Educational Psychologist: Education and Career Information
Educational Psychology is the study of how individuals think and learn in classrooms and other educational settings. This includes their emotional, social and cognitive learning processes. Educational psychologists focus on areas of teaching and testing methods, classroom environments, social, and behavioral problems that may prohibit learning. They work to recommend solutions to these issues for better learning environments.
What does an educational psychologist do?
An educational psychologist is also known as a school psychologist that works with children in helping them to cope with social, emotional, behavioral and academic issues. Although an educational psychologist is called a school psychologist, there are some differences. An educational psychologist concentrates on the macro issues, while school psychologists are trained to work directly with children who have these issues. Educational psychologists may also do work centered on adult learners. An educational psychologist may not be qualified to administer diagnostic assessments to a child in school, but may be the perfect person to analyze data and diagnose a school district. You will find educational psychologists all over the country. They are working as consultants, in educational institutions, learning centers, community organizations, government and research centers, social services departments, child psychiatric units, and independent schools.
How much does an educational psychologist earn?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an educational psychologist earns about $72,580, on average. This is based on experience, education and location of the position. The job growth outlook for for psychologists is estimated to grow 19% through 2024.
What types of skills are needed to become an educational psychologist?
There are a number of skills needed to be successful as an educational psychologist:
Reading comprehension: This role should be able to read clearly for comprehension and apply the information learned to assist with decision making.
Critical thinking: An educational psychologist should be able to use logic and reasoning to identify areas of strength and weakness, considering alternative solutions and approaches to problems they encounter.
Speaking: An educational psychologist should be able to speak with a number of audiences and individuals with clarity and knowledge. They should be able to convey information to these audiences in an effective manner.
Active learning: An educational psychologist is always learning new information and should operate with an open mind. This is very effective when conducting research to implement during problem solving and decision making.
Social perceptiveness: An educational psychologist should be aware of others’ reactions and work to understand why the reaction occurred.
Observational skills: An educational psychologist should have excellent observational skills in order to pick up on things that may not be quite so obvious. This will also help in properly assessing and diagnosing the patients.
Empathy: When working with children or studying their behavior, an educational psychologist must have a high degree of empathy when assessing their cases. In many instances, the underlying issues of children’s behavior is directly correlated with a social or mental disorder. Being able to understand and work to recommend sufficient treatment is needed.
Internship requirements vary based on schools, states and programs. Most states require educational psychologists to have at the minimum, a 1,200 hour internship beyond the standard in the undergraduate program. If pursuing a doctoral degree, the requirements increase, including a large number of clinical hours under the direct supervision of an educational psychologist.
In order to pursue a career as an educational psychologist, a student will have to commit themselves to years of educational study. This begins with a four-year bachelor’s degree program in school psychology, counseling psychology, educational psychology or general psychology. The program must be accredited. Individuals seeking a career in this field usually study biology, psychology, pre-medicine, neuroscience or a field that is closely related. Coursework should be done in all these areas, including coursework in developmental psychology.
After obtaining the bachelor’s degree, the student must prepare to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to be accepted into the master’s program. Once the student has entered the master’s degree program, they will study foundational coursework in developmental psychology. They will also begin an in-depth study of behavioral, memory and learning brain processes.
After completing the master’s degree program, the student must prepare to enter a doctoral program to study educational psychology. The doctoral program is very challenging, and students usually complete an additional three to seven years of formal education. Throughout those years, students gain experience through coursework that includes: Principles of Educational Psychology, Qualitative Analysis, Research in Psychology, Advanced Inferential Statistics, Lifespan Development, and Research Foundations of History and Systems in Psychology. A doctoral dissertation and internship credit hours are needed to graduate.
To practice in the field, a license is needed. Minimal requirements to obtain this license include a doctoral degree in psychology, a completed internship and two or more years of clinical experience. Individuals who receive their license should also seek professional certification, which will provide validation to the work and credentials in the field, opening more doors of opportunity. In order to obtain this certification, candidates must have a doctoral degree, have completed an APA-accredited internship or equivalent year of supervised experience, pass both the written and oral examinations, and be licensed to practice.
Although there are a number of years of education involved in becoming an educational psychologist, it will be well worth the time and effort. This position is very flexible and can operate in a number of different roles and facilities. Licensure is the key to becoming recognized as a credible source, and in moving forward on this career path. For someone who is interested in education and psychology, this would be a good blend of both while maintaining control of the areas in which they could work. A lucrative career opportunity, one could easily retire as a college professor while doing consulting work for social services or governmental agencies, as these positions are in demand.