Though many people hear the term school psychologist and think that those professional counselors work in elementary, middle and high schools, there are a large number of school psychologists working at universities. These counselors help students struggling with a variety of issues, including problems with courses relating to their majors, pressure from their peers and problems with drugs and alcohol. School psychologists help students acknowledge and find solutions to their problems in order to be successful in their school careers.
What is a School Psychologist?
A school psychologist is essentially a professional counselor trained to work with students. School psychology courses teach more about the particular issues facing students today and how you can help them in your role as a psychologist. Though some schools hire counselors specifically trained to help students dealing with emotional problems, other schools look for psychologists who can handle emotional issues as a part of a larger set of student issues. A school psychologist must know the laws regarding client information, and most schools have policies in place that prevent psychologists and counselors from sharing information with parents and teachers that is revealed by students.
Do You Need a College Degree?
You need at least two degrees before working as a psychologist. Most working professionals start with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling or a similar field. After finishing that degree, you can enter a graduate program designed specifically for school psychologists. Many of these programs require that students spend two years working on their studies and a third year completing fieldwork. You can choose the grade level you want to work with and spend your last year working with students of that age. Some states also require that school psychologists working at universities have either a teaching or a counseling license before accepting a psychologist position.
Pay and Future Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), school and career counselors earn a median salary of $52,610 a year or $25.77 an hour. As of 2012, there were more than 262,000 counselors working in the field, but the BLS estimates that the number of counselors will increase by 12 percent to add more than 31,000 new jobs. These figures include those working for universities and those working with students of a younger age. At the same time that the number of counselors increases across other types of schools, it will likely increase at colleges and universities.
Working in a University
While, school psychologists working with younger children often look for signs of abuse and deal with issues of sibling rivalry and parental neglect, working at the college level requires that you have experience with the issues specifically facing college students. You need to remain aware of the drug and alcohol problems on your campus, but you’ll also need to know about the extra-curricular on-campus and off-campus activities of students. Working in a university may also require that you meet with professors and talk with them about their teaching or grading methods, especially after receiving complaints from multiple students.
Colleges and universities hire school psychologists to help students with their vocational and educational needs, but those students may also need help dealing with alcohol abuse, bullying or emotional problems. A school pyschologist can be a vital resource for young students who are away from home and struggling with the challenges of school and university life.