School Psychologist Advancement Opportunities

May 22, 2018

School psychologists play an important role in diagnosing and remediating concerns regarding student learning and mental health. School psychologists may consider advancing into other roles in education or mental health.

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Career Growth Opportunities for School Psychologists

School psychologists work in schools at all levels. They conduct tests to diagnose and evaluate student learning, emotional and behavioral difficulties; and consult with teachers, administrators and families regarding the remediation of these concerns. Typically, these professionals hold an advanced degree and have state licensure. School psychologists wishing to advance their careers may wish to engage in administrative duties in education or behavioral health, move into college-level student support, or apply psychological principles to the world of work.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education
Postsecondary Education Administrator $92,360 (2017)* 10% Master's Degree
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $87,100 (2017)* 8% Master's Degree
Director of Special Education $74,104 (2018)** 8% (education administrators, elementary and secondary school) Master's Degree
Behavioral Health Director $81,665 (2018)** 20% (medical and health services managers) Master's Degree

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale

Career Information

Postsecondary Education Administrator

Postsecondary education administrators work for public or private colleges to oversee various departments in the university. A school psychologist, with experience in providing student support, would be well suited to oversee student affairs at the college level. Student affairs professionals focus on university life outside of the classroom. Student affairs administrators advise students on areas of personal or academic concern. They also plan and assess non-academic programs. To pursue this career, a minimum of a master's degree is required; and many employers are interested in experience in these areas.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

School psychologists, who often work with teachers and administrators to improve school administration and instruction, may consider utilizing these skills as an industrial-organizational psychologist. Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological principles to the world of work. They help with various workplace dilemmas including new employee screening, organization development, training, and productivity. These psychologists work across industries, including unions, health care, and manufacturing. Various tools used include observation and survey administration. A master's degree focused on industrial-organizational psychology is necessary for entry-level positions; a doctoral degree is necessary for upwards movement in this field.

Director of Special Education

A main component of the job of a school psychologist is to coordinate testing to determine if a student requires special education services. As such, moving to a school district central office administrative position such as a director of special education would be a logical next step. Directors of special education ensure that all students enrolled in a school district are receiving the appropriate special services that they need to be successful. Understanding federal and state laws around special education are a crucial component to this job. They will also consult with special education teachers to model good practices in teaching. Directors of special education typically have at least a master's degree in school administration, and must be certified for this role through their state.

Behavioral Health Director

The director of a behavioral health program plans and coordinates appropriate care, whether inpatient or outpatient, for the clients of a behavioral health facility. They are highly knowledgeable regarding best practices in behavioral health, and may supervise or train staff in the implementation of these procedures. They must also be knowledgeable regarding state and federal regulations in behavioral health. Individuals who take on this role typically have extensive experience and licensure in a behavioral health specific field.

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