4 Reasons to Pursue a Career in School Psychology

Child psychologist at work

Most enter a career in school psychology to work with youth and families in school settings; address complex challenges; and support student learning and mental and behavioral health. Many school psychologists would agree, however, that the benefits of a career in school psychology extend beyond their reasons for initially becoming a school psychologist.

# 1: The Job Prospects

  • The U.S. has experienced a shortage of school psychologists for decades, meaning a high job placement rate for graduates of school psychology programs. A recent report indicates that over 99% of school psychology graduates find a job within the first year (Gadke, Valley-Gray, & Rossen, 2018). The entire U.S. needs school psychologists, though schools in the northwest and Rocky Mountain regions, as well as rural areas, experience the greatest need.
  • The 2019 US News and World Report has ranked School Psychologist as one of the 100 Best Jobs (#45), one of the best Social Services Jobs (#2), and one of the best STEM jobs (#20). They gave School Psychology a 10/10 for the job market rating, reported a median salary of $75,090 and listed the unemployment rate at 0.9%, well below the overall national average.
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse school psychologists are in especially high demand as the profession recognizes that the field does not mirror the demographics of the student populations and families we serve.

#2: The Lifestyle

  • Most school psychologists work in schools, typically on a nine- or ten-month calendar year. Therefore, working as a school psychologist typically means about two months off in the summer, a winter holiday break, and a spring break.
  • Despite some variation in the typical hours that school psychologists work, most follow the school day. Although school psychologists may have meetings before and after school hours, their workday will often end around 3 or 4 pm. This schedule can be particularly helpful for those school psychologists who have kids of their own, or those who plan to have children in the future.

#3: The Impact

  • School Psychologists can have a significant and positive impact on the well-being of children, youth, and families. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), “School psychologists apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.”
  • School Psychologists can provide a broad range of services that support individual children, families, teachers, classrooms, and even entire school systems.
  • School Psychologists can engage in efforts to prevent problems before they start, in addition to working to solve challenges once they arise.
  • Working in a school allows you the opportunity to make change from within, and establish meaningful relationships within the school community.

#4: The Potential

  • Traditionally, school psychologists work in public schools. However, depending on the individual practice laws in each state, school psychologists may also work in private schools, preschools, district level offices, universities, school-based and mental health centers, community-based treatment centers, residential clinics and hospitals, juvenile justice programs, and in private practice.
  • School psychological services vary depending on the individual school, district, state, and geographic region of the country. Depending on where a school psychologist works, they may focus on assessment, counseling, consultation, crisis preparedness and response, school-wide prevention and intervention, behavior support, or any combination of those activities.
  • School psychology is a dynamic field. As ideas around education and mental health change and evolve, so does school psychology!

Check out the NASP, Selecting a Graduate Program page.

There you can explore more about the details about the best graduate program for you.


Edits provided by
Aaron Gubi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kean University
Eric Rossen, PhD, Director, Professional Development and Standards at National Association of School Psychologists

About the Author

Rachel Stein
Rachel Stein, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist and Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of School Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver. Dr. Stein participates in a number of local and national service activities around early career development and graduate education in School Psychology. Her research focuses on prevention and intervention to support mental health with a focus on early childhood.
Leslie Shelton is pursuing a PsyD in School Psychology from the University of Colorado Denver. She currently works as a Research Associate in the field of Early Childhood Education and is passionate about supporting the well-being of young children and their families.