School counselors are employed by institutions providing primary and secondary education to ensure that all the students are healthy, well-adjusted, and safe. School counselors at the elementary level work in tandem with parents, administrators, teachers, and students to assess a student’s strengths and special needs. They also assist administrators and teachers in creating appropriate school curricula. The duties of a high school counselor are similar. Besides, they have to counsel students on social, personal, and academic problems such as bullying, teen pregnancy, and drug addiction. Moreover, school counselors aid students in choosing appropriate careers and the needed education.
As with other counselors, those aspiring to work in schools too need to obtain a state license. The requirements differ according to the state and employer. An aspiring school psychologist should enquire with state and local bodies as well as employers and organizations with volunteers to find out the specific requirements in your locality. Normally, both primary and secondary school counselors are required to have a state-administered certification in school counseling. They should also have completed at least a master's degree coursework. Additional requirements could include teaching experience or a certificate qualifying you to teach.
A course that trains you to become a school counselor will have subjects such as social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, career development, human relationships, pedagogy, child psychology, and adolescent development. Apart from classroom studies, the student might be able to practice counseling skills under supervised conditions. The coursework required to qualify as a school counselor is normally taught in college degree programs that focus on education, psychology, social sciences, or interdisciplinary degree programs. After sufficient field experience as a school counselor, some psychologists study further to obtain higher-paying work as counseling educators or school administrators.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects job opportunities for school counselors to grow at 13 percent until 2016. This is the same as that for most other occupations. The BLS expects greater enrollment in colleges, postsecondary schools, and universities to help grow school counseling careers. More school counseling jobs are likely to be found away from the suburbs, as it is more difficult to recruit qualified school counselors in rural and urban areas.
A school psychologist applies the principles of educational psychology in a school environment to enhance the educational experience of individual students. For this they focus on assessment, design, and treatment. For instance, school psychologists can help train educators, design courses, assess the progress of students, and remediate issues discovered during assessment. School psychology is an holistic practice, meaning that parents, teachers and administrators are also engaged to ensure that the problems faced by a student are solved effectively.
The majority of educational psychologists major in psychology or education at the undergraduate level. To enroll in an accredited post-graduate course you need to submit you’re your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.
Those wanting a doctoral degree can choose between becoming a doctor of philosophy in psychology (Ph.D.) or a doctor of education (Ed.D.). In both cases you will have to study for five years after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. There are no major differences between the two courses of study. Earlier, the Ph.D. program focused on research. Now, only a few Ph.D. programs follow this policy. Typically, those holding a master’s degrees in educational psychology are not qualified to practice as educational psychologists. However, some states grant licenses to appropriately qualified people. Those with only a master’s degree are not called "psychologists." However, they can develop curriculum and train and assess (not treat) students. Some states are willing to license those with a specialist degree in education (Ed.S.). This is a post-masters and pre-doctoral degree that takes three years to complete.
All degree-holders have to obtain a government license by clearing an examination and showing proof of professional experience. The minimum experience required differs according to state and usually range from 1500 to 3000 hours (that is, one to two years) of clinical internships that have been supervised. Those school psychologists who desire to assess and treat students, especially children, must be understanding, personable, and patient.
Most school psychologists work in schools--elementary and high. A few work in government agencies, universities, and as private consultants. The National Association of School Psychologists has said that the average income in this field was $60,581 in the year 2004-2005. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, national average annual income for educational psychologists (a group that includes school psychologists) was around $68,400. The BLS further expects job opportunities for school psychologists to increase by 11 percent from 2008 to 2018.
The enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act by the Federal government in 2002 is also likely to help increase and sustain the need for school psychologists. This act focuses on the implementation of research practices based on science in the classroom apart from insisting on accountability and scholastic improvement.