- What does an educational psychologist do?
- Educational psychologist career path
- Educational psychologist salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Educational psychologist skills
- Pros and cons of being an educational psychologist
- Educational psychologist work-life balance
- Related jobs
Are you someone who likes helping people with learning difficulties? Are you an intuitive person who can adapt to different people's needs? If you enjoy making a difference in people's lives, then a career as an educational psychologist may be the role for you.
Are you interested in a career as an educational psychologist? Explore current graduate opportunities in the public sector and government.
What does an educational psychologist do?
An educational psychologist is in charge of the education and support of children or young people with a range of learning difficulties. You will adapt your knowledge in psychology to best aid a young person from 0-25 years old and support them in their social development. Your day to day activities may include:
- Assessing a child's needs by interviewing the child and their family
- Developing educational and behavioural management strategies using your knowledge of psychology
- Advising parents and teachers on how to best adapt home life and lesson structures
- Monitoring a child’s progress and raising any changes that should be made to their management plans
- Keeping up to date with new theories and techniques
- Working one-on-one with a young person after an episode of problematic behaviour to assess triggers
- Coordinating with teachers, student counsellors and health services
- Meeting with teachers to discuss and advise on behaviour problems from students
- Planning and delivering interventions to improve educational standards
Educational psychologist career path
Newly qualified educational psychologists can expect to jump straight into a practitioner post immediately. You will start your career as a chartered educational psychologist, starting in a generalised role working with a broad spectrum of students at schools or educational facilities. You will be in charge of administrative tasks, development of curriculums and holding meetings with students in need of your help.
Career progression for an educational psychologist depends on your own personal and professional development within your role. It’s crucial for you to stay up to date with new studies and courses in order to retain your membership with the British Psychology Society and progress.
Once you have a few years of experience under your belt, you may decide to start to specialise. One career opportunity is a teaching and teacher educational role. You will be involved in classroom management, creating positive relationships between teachers and students to best optimise guidance plans and behaviours.
You may decide to start focusing on a specific line of expertise, such as young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Some may decide to focus on counselling, where you will offer one to one sessions with students and hold behavioural interventions. Your work will become more focused on specific cases and crisis intervention as opposed to generalised behavioural plans.
Those with PhDs in psychology have the ability to go into research roles, specifically employed by universities, charities or research facilities to conduct studies and develop knowledge in the world of educational psychology. This means you may decide to only take on specific behavioural cases that align with your research or instead have a team that reports back to you with findings to be analysed.
Due to the nature of this role, there is a clear progression route within the local authority sector, with the upper end of your career as either a senior or principal educational psychologist. This will be the highest you can go within the public sector and will see the highest salaries.
Those who decide to specialise in teaching or research, are able to go on to become university professors, leading the way in the schooling of new educational psychologists. You may be interested in following these career paths, substituted by specialist work, becoming the authority on specialist areas such as ASD or early learning. This means you may move to a specialist department or only specifically work with cases in that department.
Alternatively, you may choose to become self-employed. Highly specialised educational psychologists may be able to start choosing the cases they accept or otherwise manage other practitioners for certain cases. You will be hired to consult individual cases, research studies or charities and have the ability to manage your own workload and specialism more freely.
The role of educational psychologist benefits from security provided by the Soulbury Agreement.
- Trainee educational psychologists can expect an annual salary of £23,000 to £33,000 per year.
- A qualified educational psychologist salary begins at £37,000 per year and can reach highs of £55,000 per year with additional professional assessment points.
- Senior educational psychologists earn from £46,000 to £63,000 per year.
- Principal educational psychologists will earn upwards of £72,000 per year.
Qualifications and training
To become an educational psychologist you will need to have a number of qualifications under your belt. Requirements vary between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In order to work as an educational psychologist, you will need to be a registered member of the HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council).
You will start your education by obtaining a bachelor's degree accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS). Your degree will commonly be made up of 4 years of study with one year being a placement year. During this time you would be expected to take courses in psychology and broaden your knowledge across many sectors. Once you have completed your degree, you will then need to become a member of the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)
After obtaining your degree, you need to join a graduate programme that delves into deeper topics within psychology, such as cognition, human development and learning. From here you will go on to achieve your Master of Education degree. Master of Arts or Master of Science are also acceptable. From here, you are decently qualified enough to find employment, however, you will create more opportunities if you go on to get your doctorate degree. These require an additional 5 years of specialised learning and research, making you an expert in your field and opening up higher-level employment opportunities. In England, Wales and Northern Island this course must be accredited by the BPS. Your doctorate will have a year of study but then become practice-based for 3-4 years, as a placement with your local educational psychology service.
Once you have completed your doctorate degree, you can apply for full membership of the BPS Division of Educational and Child Psychology and begin your career.
Later in your career, you may decide to go into a more managerial role, in which case courses in IT and people management will be for you. You may also want to seek a formal degree in management, HR or business to make finding a senior role easier.
Work experience is a crucial piece of experience needed to be accepted onto a postgraduate course. You will be expected to have at least one of your work experience in either an educational capacity or social care role. Experienced teachers are usually the most successful when applying for postgraduate courses however other professions within social care and early learning will help in your application.
Educational psychologist skills
- Communication. You will be responsible for leading hard discussions with students who require special treatment. You will then have to communicate necessary changes and observations to a large array of people, including family and teachers.
- Self-development. This field requires constant education and the desire to learn and adapt your expertise. The psychology field is constantly changing and you must be willing to research and evolve to best help the people you work with.
- Patience. There will always be behavioural setbacks, no matter your level of skill. It is important to be able to work through these and progress in a calm and collected way. You will need to be open-minded and empathetic.
- Leadership. You will be the one evaluating, delivering and analysing all cases. You must be able to communicate clearly and advise other departments and be assertive in how they are carrying out your suggested plans. Learn more about leadership skills with this Bright Network Academy course.
- Time management. You will be responsible for multiple cases at any given time. This means it will be important to delegate your time wisely to give your attention where it is needed. Quick action may be needed in high-pressure scenarios. Read our 10 essential time-management lessons for tips and tricks on how to manage your time effectively.
Pros and cons of being an educational psychologist
- If you work alongside school schedules, you may find you have summers and school holidays off.
- Being an educational psychologist gives you a high level of autonomy and you’re able to decide on how to proceed with the cases you’re in charge of.
- There’s the possibility of earning a high salary as you gain experience and specialise in certain fields
- You will be faced with difficult scenarios on a daily basis that will require a high level of resilience. Learn more about resilience and taking feedback with this Bright Network Academy module.
- Educational psychologists must have difficult conversations and manage conflicts of opinion with people with close personal connections.
Educational psychologist work-life balance
When managed properly, working as an educational psychologist can offer a healthy work-life balance. Your working hours will be largely around school hours and on school schedules. This means you may find you only work during term time and have prolonged periods of holiday.
However, sometimes you will be needed outside of general school hours to cater to other people's schedules, such as the parents of your student. Due to the stressful and often confrontational nature of this role, it will be important to have a cut off time from calls and emails in order to manage the emotional load you can experience.