School Psychology Licensure Information

Licensure requirements for school psychologists vary by state, but there are a few basic requirements for initial certification and renewal. Once licensed, school counselors can land jobs in a variety of school settings.

Licensure for School Psychologists

Laws for the licensing of school psychologists vary by state. However, all states and the District of Columbia require some form of licensure. In general, requirements include:

  • A master's degree in school counseling or a related field
  • An internship under the guidance of a licensed school counselor
  • A criminal background check
  • 1-2 years of teaching experience or a teaching license (only in some states)

The National Association of School Psychologists awards the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) designation. In order to attain NCSP status, there are certain requirements the psychologist must fulfill, both as a student and post-graduate. These include:

  • 60 graduate semester hours focusing on school psychology
  • 1,200 hours of internships, half of which must be completed in a school setting
  • A passing score on the Praxis School Psychologist exam

Pre-Licensure Education

In most states, school psychologists may be employed after having earned their educational specialist degree (Ed.S.), although a master's degree is sufficient in a few states. Doctoral and advanced graduate certificate programs are also available. These degree options may take various amounts of time, with master's degrees and certificates often taking two years. The Ed.S. generally takes three years, with the third year consisting entirely of an internship. Doctoral degrees in psychology with a school psychology emphasis may take as long as 7-8 years.

Program Accreditation

When searching for a program, especially at the doctoral level, it's important that the student finds one that's accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA); the APA is the leading accrediting agency in school psychology, as well as clinical psychology and counseling. In addition to this, the program may be co-accredited by the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Licensure Renewal Information

Like licensing requirements, licensure renewal requirements vary by state. However, in many states, school counselors are required to renew their license about every five years. For this, they need to earn continuing education credits (CEUs). Options for earning CEUs might include:

  • Studying journal articles and other professional materials
  • Participating in distance learning education
  • Attending conferences
  • Completing specialist training programs

Duties of School Psychologists

School psychologists work in elementary schools, middle schools and/or high schools. In these settings, they may work with teachers, parents and children by suggesting and creating supportive learning environments for students. They also help improve social and learning skills for students by conducting evaluations and working at an administrative level to improve the effectiveness of academic, preventive and behavioral school programs. Specific job duties include:

  • Helping students overcome behavioral problems
  • Providing high school students with college and career advice
  • Reporting neglect or abuse to higher authorities
  • Determining the causes of low attendance rates

School psychologists need to hold a graduate degree and earn licensure before they can work in education settings. To maintain licensure, they must earn CEUs in order to renew their state credential about every five years.

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