How to Become an Educational Psychologist
If you want to further research the role of a clinical psychologist then it is highly recommended that you read Educational Psychology Casework, Second Edition: A Practice Guide.
Educational Psychology is an extremely important area of applied psychology. One of the reasons that the education system today is so vastly different from the past is because of the work of educational psychologists. Educational psychologist have the opportunity to change the face of tomorrow by improving the education system, which is a fundamental part of civilised society. This is a competitive area of psychology, but it can be highly rewarding.
What do Educational Psychologists do?
Not surprisingly, educational psychologists are concerned with education, particularly how to improve it. They can work with students, many times they will work with students who are having difficulty with school work and school life, which may be due to learning difficulties or other factors, which the educational psychologist will learn of through working with teachers or direct observations and interviews with the students – the educational psychologist will attempt to find the root cause of these problems and attempt to solve them, which many involve therapy, teaching relaxation techniques or goal setting with the student – alongside this in some cases the educational psychologist may work with social services in order to fix any problems that some students may have. This can have an enormous impact of the educational success of those individuals. They can also consult with educational bodies in order to help them maximise their teaching methods and educational success. They may also advise parents in order to help their children maximise their educational potential.
Educational psychologists find employment from many different places. One of the most common places that educational psychologists are employed is with local education authorities, as these authorities need the expertise of educational psychologists in order to maintain and continually improve their services. This will lead to the educational psychologist working with local schools, colleges and universities, both with the staff and with the students. They can also be employed to work with younger children in nurseries and daycare centres.
Research is a large part of educational psychology – many educational psychologists stay within academia and pursue research and lecturing. Research is vital to the development of the field and can lead to educational improvements in the future. Some attempt to challenged paradigms that are taken for granted, such as the idea that some children are ‘bright’ and some children are ‘slow’. Some of the topics which educational psychologists research include:
- Children’s educational development
- The ways in which people learn
- Preventing drop-out rates
Bare in mind that not every educational psychologist follows this list directly. Some work in research and then work in other areas, whereas some work in both research and with local authorities and other agencies.
The Route into Educational Psychology
The very first step in your career into educational is to complete an undergraduate psychology course that is certified by the BPS and is eligible for the ‘Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)’.
It would also be a good idea while you are completing your degree to look for relevant work experience, even if it is simply volunteering with a local sports club. Remember you should think of everything as part of the stepping stones which lead you to your desired career.
When you are searching for a university to take you psychology degree at make sure that you look at the units and modules that are in that degree. For a career in educational psychology, it would be important for you to choose a degree with modules in developmental psychology.
Now, if you already have an undergraduate degree and it is not eligible for the ‘Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership’ then you may have to pay for a conversion course.
Ideally, you should aim for the highest degree classification as possible, because then this makes it easier for you to be accepted on to a masters course, which some employers will require.
From this point you will have to complete an educational psychology masters degree (MSC) – these normally take between one and two years.
Following this, you will have to complete at least one year of supervised practise – this in when you will get a real taste of what educational psychology is like.
Alternatively, if you do not get a masters and then you will need to complete a doctorate level graduate training programme, which can take between three and four years to complete.
On average, it will take between six and seven years to become a fully qualified and practising educational psychologist.
Your salary will vary depending on the type of work you are doing and the organisation employing you.
Those starting out in the field should expect around £21,000 per annum. More experienced educational psychologists can expect much more (depending on their employer and clients) – the average salary for educational psychologists is between £40,000 and £45,000.
Questions to Consider
Do I like working with children and young people?
Can I handle working with children and young people?
Can I deal with other people’s problems sensitively?
Am I prepared to spend 6-7 years working to become an educational psychologist? (This is a very important question to consider).
Upon completing my degree, what else can I do if I change my mind about a educational psychology?
If you are not currently undertaking an undergraduate degree, then the first thing that you will need to do is find a university course (you can use the BPS link higher on the page to help you with this).
Try to map out a seven year plan – this plan should include:
- How you are going to support yourself when you are undertaking your degree and further training.
- Which masters or graduate training programme you want to undertake and where you want to do it – this is important because it will give you an idea of how hard you need to work during your undergraduate studies.
- What type of educational psychology you want to do and who may employ you. It is always a good idea to contact these people ahead of time in order to see what they require and if you can get any early work experience with them.