How to Become an Educational Psychologist
Educational psychologists work directly with children and adolescents who may have behavioral, developmental, or social difficulties that can make learning challenging. Although it takes years of higher education, you can become an educational psychologist by receiving a Bachelor's Degree in psychology, getting a master’s degree, and gaining hands-on experience.
Studying to Be an Educational Psychologist
Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.To become an educational psychologist, it is important to add in the course or courses that will help you get closer to achieving your goal. By adding in courses that directly relate to what you plan to study in graduate school and professionally, it will make you the ideal candidate when looking for employment.
- After declaring a major in psychology, it is a good idea to find the specialized area of study you want to pursue. From program development to psychometric testing, and data analysis, there are many different areas to focus in.
- Major categories of educational psychology include program development and implementation, instructor education and training, psychometric testing and data assessment, and instructional and educational materials.
Engage with your professors to learn more about the field.You will more than likely need reference letters when applying to graduate school and your professors are great resources to utilize. Try to stand out from your peers by asking questions in class and attending your professor’s office hours.
- Since professors have experience in the field you are trying to enter, connecting with them will help you learn more about your field. Connecting with professors may also help you find future career opportunities.
Attend a graduate school known for their psychology department.Many universities are known for particular programs, so attending an accredited university for educational psychology may very well be how you get your first job post-graduation.
- Make sure that the school you choose has a network of alumni who work in educational psychology.Connecting with these alumni will help you network throughout your education, which will be imperative to find a job in your field.
Obtain a Doctorate in Psychology.A doctorate is not required for many areas of educational psychology. However, it is required if you are planning to research and teach at the collegiate level and completing a Ph.D. will set you apart from other candidates.
- Make sure that if you do pursue your Ph.D. that you research your prospective schools the same way you did for your master’s. Finding an accredited university specializing in educational psychology is important to getting the job you want.
Complete an internship.Getting at least one internship will be imperative to getting a job as an educational psychologist. Many graduate programs require you to complete an internship before allowing you to graduate.If you are pursuing a Ph.D., an internship will be required.
- When looking for internships, use resources such as the Association of School Psychologists and the American Psychological Association.
- Internships may not always be available or easy to get. Always give yourself enough time to find the one that works best for you.
Volunteer your time.Volunteering in an area of educational psychology will provide you with great work experience to add to your resume. Check out your prospective employers or areas of interest when deciding what volunteer positions to look for.
- Volunteer opportunities in educational psychology are widely available through hospitals, clinics, and counseling services.
Participate in research programs.Although research programs at the graduate level are similar to undergraduate internships, they will provide you will hands-on researching experience. This will be extremely beneficial to have on your resume while looking for jobs.
- To find a research program, begin your search through your universities psychology departments. These departments will be able to help you find opportunities on-campus and are likely to help you find great off-campus positions as well.
Finding a Job as an Educational Psychologist
Obtain your certification or license.A license in educational psychology is a requirement that varies from state to state. If you have obtained a doctoral degree, then becoming certified is highly recommended.
- To obtain a license, you will need to take a licensing exam and have at least 2 years of supervised experience. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards is a great resource to help you determine the licensing requirements in your state.
Register with the American Psychological Association.To begin practicing educational psychology on your own, you must be registered with the APA. To apply for registration, you will need to have received a master’s degree from an accredited university that is recognized by the APA.
- Many countries do not require a license to become an educational psychologist. Most countries such as Europe emphasize having an undergraduate degree in psychology.
Keep your resume and cover letter up-to-date.This will help you stay prepared for job opportunities that may come your way.Make sure you are highlighting all of your strengths, as this will be important to convey, especially during interviews.
Keep work-related networking sites updated.Networking sites such as LinkedIn will help you connect with others practicing educational psychology.These connections can offer support when looking for employment and will help you search for jobs online and provide career networking.
Use networking to find a job.Networking is a tool that can be utilized formally or informally to search for employment opportunities. Try going to events or socials to meet others who are pursuing educational psychology. The people you meet will not only be great resources for you down the road, but you will be connected with others who have the same goals.
- Reach out to your friends, family, college alumni, and neighbors. You may be surprised by the connections they have.
- While networking through email is acceptable, make sure that you keep your messages brief and free of any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
- At least 60% of jobs are obtained through networking.
- Get as much experience working in a classroom and educational settings as possible. This will help you gain a better understanding of school systems and educational demands.
- Volunteer with any organization and activity that will help you gain insight into what children and young adults deal with on a daily basis.
- Consider shadowing professionals to gain knowledge of the professional field. Make sure to actively engage while shadowing by asking questions and coming prepared.
- Subscribe to educational journals that will help you stay up-to-date with the latest research and findings in educational psychology.
- Conduct informational interviews with prospective employers and contacts.
- Always thank your contacts in writing.
- Take notes during informational interviews.
- Keep track of those you have contacted, especially online.
- Be able to articulate your strengths, both in your resume and during interviews.
Video: Studying to become an Educational Psychologist
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