Students need a robust support system to thrive in their schools, which can be stressful for most of them. The need to prove themselves academically, socially, and behaviorally can really bear down on them. So, if you choose to become a school psychologist, you would be a blessing in disguise for these students.
But, before you can extend your kindness and warmth, you need to evaluate the demands of this career to do justice to those you wish to help. A school psychologist is a mental health expert who works primarily with students. Their honed skills enable them to help these students unlock potential and blossom into well-adjusted adults.
While the job sounds straightforward, you need to account for how it will impact you personally, financially, and mentally. It is not wise to pursue any career without knowing what is in store for you. Here’s what you need to know to make a more informed decision:
What’s in It for You?
Besides the sheer joy of knowing that you are making an invaluable difference in the world, there are many other benefits to being a school psychologist. Here are some to consider as you explore this career:
The Help You Offer Students Is Vital
Students cannot thrive unless they are mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally at peace. As elusive as this inner balance may be, you can help them find it. However, most states require you to have specialized qualifications before you can start practicing. It ensures you possess skills that make you a valuable resource for pupils.
So, once you acquire an Educational Psychology Degree, you will have all the skills and knowledge to fit the role perfectly. Like a beacon of light guiding ships through troubled water, you will help students find their way. Whether a student needs your help in the classroom, struggles to make friends, or feels burned out, you will have an answer for it all.
The Pay is Excellent
When choosing a career, job security is a valid concern. You wouldn’t want to end up with a profession where you had to invest heavily and get little in return. As a school psychologist, you will earn handsomely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for a school psychologist is up to $70,000 annually. This can help offset any financial pressures you may face and allow you to focus on spreading the most good you can.
The Demand is Here to Stay
Becoming a school psychologist is a good career choice in terms of relevance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job is predicted to grow by 8% in the next decade. So, once you become a school psychologist, you will be in it for the long haul without worrying about your purpose. It is a significant perk in choosing school psychology as your vocation.
A Chance to Venture into New Settings
Becoming a school psychologist will not limit you to a school setting. Your degree will open up other opportunities and allow you to soak up new experiences and explore work environments. You can work in hospitals, clinics, and even the juvenile justice system outside of a school system.
If you ever feel the need to change the scenery and try your hand at helping others, you will have the liberty to do so.
A Flexible Schedule
As a school psychologist, you will design your schedule and shuffle cases as you like. You will have the autonomy to decide your priorities and lay out your days without any added pressure. As counseling is a high-pressure job, this flexibility will save you from burnout and protect your own mental wellbeing.
You will also feel less burdened with work and not see your students as checklist items to be crossed off the list. Stress makes you disconnected from your work, so ensure that you are mentally present to offer support by taking advantage of your schedule.
You Will Get Many Holidays
Everyone needs a break no matter how much they love their profession. As a school psychologist, you will get regular holidays, especially summers, which is unusual compared to other professional fields.
Holidays present an excellent opportunity to spend time with your family and a break from the monotony of the daily grind. Being with your loved ones will help you shake off the stress and maintain healthy relationships. Just as your students, you also need a support system hence this sense of belonging is vital to success.
Why You May Pull Back?
Despite all the perks, being a school psychologist comes with its own challenges that you need to understand. Not everything that glitters is gold, and while the profession seems attractive, it may not be for everyone. Make sure you’re up for the following as you decide to pursue this field:
A Great Chunk of Your Time Goes Into School
The process of becoming a school psychologist is daunting – you will need at least a master’s degree before you can start. Therefore, you need to be prepared to dedicate at least seven years of your life to obtaining the right educational qualifications.
You will also need to complete up to 60 graduate semester credits and over 1,200 internship hours. This may be too arduous for many people, and unless one can fully commit, becoming a school psychologist may not be their cup of tea.
The Credentials Vary Across States
Every state has its requirements that you will need to fulfill. Almost every state apart from Texas and Hawaii has specified what they want to see in a qualified school psychologist. For example, if you wish to work in North Carolina, you will need to obtain a minimum of 30 credits, while Florida asks for 60 credit hours in specific areas of psychology.
Depending on where you study, you will need to determine where you stand in credit terms, as they may not port well between states. This can make it difficult for you to practice in different states and require you to go back to school or get recertified should you move.
You May Have To Handle Multiple Schools
Different districts have varying policies about school psychologists, and in some communities, the counselor-to-teacher ratio is quite high. The community you may be employed in may ask you to manage more than one school in the vicinity. While you can design your schedule as you wish, too many cases will still be stressful to handle, and you should prepare for that.
You may feel more tired than school psychologists who only manage one school, so factor in the kind of community to work in based on your scheduling needs.
If you like academia, psychology, and helping students, you should become a school psychologist. However, like any career, you need to do your research before choosing. As a school psychologist, you will get many benefits in the form of a steady job, good pay, and varying work environments. You will also get to design your schedule and spend the holidays with your family.
While the job may sound blissful, don’t forget that you will need to be exceptionally qualified before you get considered. Different states require different levels from you, and the school’s district may appoint multiple schools to you. With this information, decide which side you feel the scales tipping on and make your choice.