Difference Between School Counselor & School Psychologist

School counselors and school psychologists both work with students and school staff to try to maintain a positive learning environment. This article compares these careers and looks at how some of their specific tasks differ.

Comparing School Counselor to School Psychologist

School counselors and school psychologists provide professional insight on how students learn and develop and can play an important role in helping them do well in a school environment. Counselors may work with all students to help them navigate social challenges and perform well in the classroom, while school psychologists focus on students who need assistance overcoming specific types of disabilities or disorders that are affecting their success in school.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
School Counselor Master's Degree $54,560 for School and Career Counselors 8% for School and Career Counselors
School Psychologist Master's, Doctoral or Education Specialist Degree $73,270 for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists 20% for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of School Counselor vs. School Psychologist

School counselors and school psychologists both spend time meeting with students and their families to discuss any issues they might be having in the classroom. Their work can involve maintaining confidentiality when appropriate, although they may also need to file a report with the authorities if they have reason to believe a student is being neglected or abused. School counselors collaborate with teachers and other school staff to develop strategies that address general student body issues, such as bullying, and work to ensure that all students' academic and social needs are being met. School psychologists may also work with teachers and administrators, but their focus is on developing strategies to address specific behavioral concerns or assist students with learning and developmental disabilities.

School Counselor

School counselors typically need to study school counseling or a similar discipline through a master's degree program. They may also need a license, certification or other state-approved credential to work in the school system. School counselors typically perform most of their duties within an office setting in the school and may have the summer months off.

Job responsibilities of a school counselor include:

  • Conducting assessments of students' abilities
  • Teaching students time-management and study skills
  • Providing group counseling when necessary to address specific issues
  • Helping assess the appropriateness of the school curriculum
  • Assisting high school students with academic and career decisions

School Psychologist

It's common for psychologists to complete graduate studies to work in their field. School psychologists may be required to have a master's or doctoral degree, though an education specialist degree is the most common requirement. They may also need to be certified or have a license. School psychologists primarily work in a school environment, but positions with community health centers and clinics are also among the options for employment.

Job responsibilities of a school psychologist include:

  • Identifying students affected by behavioral or learning issues
  • Preparing individualized education plans (IEPs) for students
  • Helping students develop methods to modify problem behaviors or manage obstacles to learning
  • Evaluating and maintaining records of students' progress

Related Careers

Aspiring school counselors may also want to consider a career as a marriage and family therapist, since this career also involves counseling people and helping them address personal issues. Individuals who are interested in working as a school psychologist may also be interested in working as a special education teacher, since these teachers play an important role in developing strategies to help students with learning disabilities succeed in school.

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