Outlook & Growth
Employment of school, educational and vocational counselors will grow at 14 percent—faster than average—through 2018. Employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists will grow at 11 percent. Demand for school counselors will grow as more post-secondary institutions employ them.
Salary & Wages
In 2008, psychologists earned an average salary of $64,140. The middle 50 percent earned between $48,700 and $82,800. Median annual wages of educational, vocational, and school counselors in May 2008 were $51,050. The middle 50 percent earned between $38,740 and $65,360. Top-earning school psychologists made more than $103,000, while top-earning school counselors took in more than $83,000.
What is a School Psychologist or Counselor?
School psychologists and school counselors work with students in early childhood, elementary and secondary schools, and in post-secondary settings. They help students understand and deal with social, behavioral and personal problems, often in collaboration with teachers and parents. Their roles can vary based on their different educational backgrounds (psychologists usually have specialist degrees; counselors have master's degrees) and the settings they work in.
Both school psychologists and school counselors address students’ learning and behavioral problems. They suggest improvements in classroom management strategies and parenting techniques. They test and evaluate students with disabilities and gifted students to decide how best to educate them.
They may also help students develop realistic academic and career goals. Both psychologists and counselors also teach life skills. They sometimes offer special services, like alcohol and drug counseling and conflict resolution classes.
Education & Degree Path
In most states, school psychologists must have a specialist degree (Ed.S or Doctorate of Education) in psychology. A few states still award credentials to school psychologists with master’s degrees.
Education requirements for counselors vary by state. A master’s degree is usually required to be licensed as a counselor. Some states accept a bachelor’s degree with appropriate counseling courses.
Licensing: Licensure requirements for school counselors differ greatly by state and work setting. Many states require school counselors to hold a state school counseling certification and to have completed at least some graduate course work. Most require the completion of a master’s degree that includes special courses and training.
Psychologists must also meet state-specific certification or licensing requirements.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) awards the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) designation, which recognizes professional competency in school psychology at a national, rather than state, level.
Entering the Field: Because educational requirements vary widely, you must consult your state’s licensing boards in psychology and in school counseling. Only your state board can interpret the specific type of educational credential you will need to pursue the kind of job you want to have. You may need a specific type of bachelor’s degree in education to qualify for entry into this career field. In addition, any degree you have may have to include specific courses.
Career Changers: Career changers pursue the same educational paths as initial entrants to the field. It may sometimes be possible to add courses to an existing bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in psychology, human services or education to enter this career field. To find out more, consult your state education board for specific requirements for public school counselors and psychologists.
Source for salary and growth data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information on careers in school psychology or counseling, salaries, and job prospects visit: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Counselors, or Psychologists.