An academic psychologist, or school counselor, is an important staff member at elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools.
These dedicated professionals assist students with their social and emotional development, identify and remove barriers that prevent students from maximizing their academic potential, and help guide students to post-high school education and job opportunities.
Of course, school counselors wear many other hats as well. They’re advocates for students, they research best practices for improving educational opportunities, and they teach teachers, administrators, and parents skills that will help them better support the growth and development of children.
Entering the field of academic psychology can be a rewarding career option, especially since academic psychologists are able to help school-age kids through life’s difficult issues. Making an impact is vital in this profession, and academic psychologists need to fully understand what it takes to become successful in this field.
What Do Academic Psychologists Do?
Academic psychologists focus on the coordination of the goals and actions of students, teachers, parents, and involved parties through informal and formal treatment plans.
For example, let’s say an academic counselor at an elementary school is working with a student that is struggling to get his homework turned in. To address this issue, the psychologist might have a telephone conference with the child’s parents to see if there are any issues at home that are causing barriers to the child completing his work. If problems exist (i.e., the family can’t afford internet service), the psychologist might then coordinate with the school district to make accommodations, be that providing the child a hot spot so he can access the internet at home or allowing the child to come to school early or stay late to do his homework in the library.
In this example, the academic psychologist is working as an advocate for their client. They began with a specific classroom problem and worked with the child’s parents to identify the home-based issue that is causing the child to not have his homework done on time. But, as noted earlier, advocacy is just one task that academic psychologists commonly address.
School counselors may also be responsible for school-wide programs on important social issues. Depending on the current administrative concerns, the counselor may implement awareness and education programs on issues concerning sexual abuse, sexism, and racism. So, rather than working one-on-one with a child, the academic psychologist would develop a curriculum that can be provided to all students in school.
For example, if there is a pervasive problem with bullying in a high school, an academic psychologist might develop an educational program that sheds light on the reasons why people engage in bullying behaviors. The program might also offer specific steps students can take when they witness bullying as well as strategies that bullied kids can use to cope with being bullied. The methods and details for developing this kind of plan depend on the school’s grade level and specific demographics.
Other areas that academic psychologists often address include:
- Developmental changes in kids
- Family challenges
- Sexual abuse
- Academic planning
- Social skills development
- Conflict resolution
Additionally, many academic psychologists work with students that have special needs.
Specifically, academic psychologists are typically responsible for the development and coordination of individualized educational plans (IEPs) and helping pupils with behavioral issues or learning disabilities.
Developing IEPs can be a long process, and it requires input from multiple stakeholders, including the child, the child’s parents or guardians, the child’s teachers, and perhaps outside agencies like social services or the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. As such, academic psychologists must be able to be an effective leader with excellent organizational and communication skills if the group is to achieve its goal of assisting the pupil in making positive academic progress.
Academic psychologists also assist teachers who suspect a student has a learning disability, parents who want answers for their child’s poor performance, and principals who identify chronic behavioral issues.
When academic psychologists meet with students, they determine the actions needed to correctly identify the problem, such as seeking an outside referral from a physician or specialist to identify possible organic causes. Academic psychologists conduct certain evaluations as well, such as academic examinations and diagnostic screenings.
Unfortunately, academic psychologists in today’s world are often tasked with comforting students after a tragedy. Be it an accident that takes the life of another student or an all-too-common school shooting, academic psychologists often serve as trauma therapists for kids that are struggling with the emotions that result from a tragic loss.
But there are wonderful moments, too, that make academic psychology a highly rewarding career. You might work with a student on study skills that enable them to get their grades up and get scholarships to go to college. A child you worked with on anger and aggression issues that blossoms into a caring and compassionate classmate is a success story that many academic psychologists share. Likewise, the feeling you get when you see a once sad and lonely child grow into an outgoing kid with many strong friendships makes all the hard work worth it.
Where Do Academic Psychologists Work?
Many academic psychologists are employed by public or private schools. In some cases, they might work in a single school, which is more common at the high school level, or in multiple schools, which is more common for elementary and middle grades. Regardless of the grade level, academic psychologists usually have an office where they can meet individually with kids, with groups of kids, or with children and their families.
But, since academic psychologists often collaborate with classroom teachers and administrators, they will often work in classrooms directly with teachers and students or they will take part in meetings with other teachers, such as IEP meetings or academic planning meetings with other counselors and staff.
Some academic psychologists are employed in higher education. Though their job duties might be a little different than at the K-12 level, the ultimate goal remains the same – to support the growth and development of students.
So, instead of working with a child who has trouble handing in his homework, an academic psychologist at a college or university might lead a group therapy session for survivors of sexual assault. As another example, an academic psychologist might connect students with academic resources on campus, such as the tutoring lab, that will help them improve their academic performance and increase the likelihood that they meet the requirements of their degree program in a timely fashion.
What is the Required Education for Academic Psychologists?
Most states require aspiring academic psychologists to complete a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology program like school psychology or school counseling. Though the specific requirements differ, you should expect to participate in a program that requires at least 30 semester credit hours (and as many as 60 semester credit hours) as well as an internship or even multiple internships.
For example, a master’s program in school counseling might be 60 credits in length with a practicum experience in which you mostly observe a school counselor, and then an internship experience in which you must complete 1,000 hours of work. That work might be divided into 250 hours of educational activities, like conducting research or reading relevant texts on school counseling. The other 750 hours might be required client contact time in which you are required to have direct contact with clients in an individual, group, or classroom setting.
Some school counselors go on to get their Ph.D. in counseling. While a Ph.D. is not typically required for most academic psychologist positions, it can be beneficial to have the additional schooling and experience for carrying out the duties of the position.
Getting a Ph.D. is a long process – likely at least five years – and a lot of work, too. Ph.D. programs in this field might include an internship component of 1,500 hours on top of a dissertation requirement, which entails years of research that culminates in a defense of the dissertation to a committee.
Whether you stop with your master’s degree or go on to get a doctorate, you will have to obtain licensure as an academic psychologist in the state where you intend to work. The tricky part about licensure is that each state is responsible for setting the requirements for licensure. This means that the steps involved can be quite different from one state to the next.
Despite this, there are some fundamentals you’ll need to address. First, your degree needs to be from an accredited institution. If it isn’t it is likely that you will not be licensed in any state. Second, there is certain coursework that most state licensure bodies require you to take, like psychological theory, individual counseling techniques, group counseling techniques, and ethics.
The other component of licensure is successfully completing a licensure exam. While some states do not have a licensure examination requirement, most do, and many of those are Praxis tests that cover very broad concepts in school counseling. Additionally, prospective academic psychologists will have to pay the relevant fees for licensure and will have to pass a criminal background check.
What is the Salary and Job Outlook for Academic Psychologists?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists earn a median salary of $82,180 annually. When broken down to an hourly wage, this averages out to $39.51 per hour.
The pay scale for psychologists is quite wide, too. Top-earning psychologists can make in excess of $137,000 per year. The lowest-earning psychologists might make closer to $46,000 per year.
There are many different reasons for this variation in pay. First and foremost, the more education and work experience you have, the higher the income you will earn. For example, two academic psychologists, one with a master’s degree and five years of experience and the other with a Ph.D. and five years of experience, will likely not earn the same yearly salary. The psychologist with a Ph.D. will typically earn more.
Other factors affect one’s salary as well. The location at which you work, the geographic area in which you work, and the overall health of the economy can all impact your salary as an academic psychologist.
For example, you might find that working as an academic psychologist in a public school setting involves a salary that is higher than a similar position at a private school. As another example, academic psychologists that are in private practice might make more money than those employed by a government agency. This is not always true, but it is a good rule of thumb.
As for the job outlook, the BLS doesn’t paint a very rosy picture for the coming years for psychology. It is predicted that job growth will be slower than average, at just three percent through 2029.
This does not mean that there won’t be any jobs for academic psychologists. Instead, it simply means that the job market might be a little tighter than it has in previous years. For example, the BLS predicted 22 percent job growth for this field between 2010 and 2020, so things can change – and change quickly.
Typically, the BLS updates its job outlook numbers every two years. Sometimes there are large swings between predictions from one report to the next, so you might find that job growth in this area is stronger in a couple of years than it is currently predicted to be.
Ultimately, whether the job market is hot or not, it’s up to you to build the requisite knowledge and skills that make you a competent academic psychologist. You might need to have additional schooling or training to get a leg up on other applicants. You might also need to complete additional on-the-job training like work studies, practicum experiences, or internships. The point is that the more you do and learn, the better you can differentiate yourself from other applications, and the more likely it is that you can increase your job prospects.
Choosing to Become an Academic Psychologist
Choosing a career path can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to making an impact in others’ lives. Academic psychology is a rewarding industry that many will enjoy, allowing them to make a difference in children’s lives before they reach adulthood.
Remember that it will take time and a lot of work to get the proper qualifications to become an academic psychologist. But if you’re passionate about helping other people, and if you enjoy working with children, this is an excellent career path for you.
B.A. Social Studies Education | University of Wyoming
M.S. Counseling | University of Wyoming
B.S. Information Technology | University of Massachusetts
Updated May 2021
- What is an Animal Psychologist?
- What is Sports Psychology?
- What is Consumer Psychologist?
What is academic psychologist in psychology? ›
Academic psychologists are scientists who use observation and experimental evidence to arrive at valid conclusions.Are online psychology degrees respected? ›
Yes, accredited online psychology degree programs are usually just as good as their on-campus equivalents. As long as the school and the degree program you choose have regional accreditation, then your online psychology degree should be viewed the same as a degree earned at an on-campus institution.What is the difference between BS psychology and AB psychology? ›
The B.S., or Bachelor of Science in Psychology, has a lot in common with the B.A. in Psychology. What sets it apart, however, is that the B.S. program usually includes additional math and science courses rather than electives or topic specializations.What is the difference between academic psychology and applied psychology? ›
Basic psychology is different than applied psychology in that it focuses on theory and fundamental understanding over practical solutions to issues. Applied psychology focuses on the real-world implementation of these theories to better serve their community.How do I become an academic psychologist? ›
- Complete your A-levels. ...
- Apply for a bachelor's degree. ...
- Look for apprenticeships. ...
- Apply for graduate membership. ...
- Earn a postgraduate degree. ...
- Apply for jobs.
Both may also diagnose patients, but this is often more common for clinical psychologists. However, clinical psychologists address a broad range of disorders and concerns for patients of all ages. Conversely, school psychologists focus primarily on addressing behavioral and learning concerns in children.What certification is best with a psychology degree? ›
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) ...
- Certified Alzheimer Caregiver. ...
- Certified Sexuality Educator or Counselor. ...
- Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)
How Fast Can I Get an Online Bachelor's in Psychology Degree? The study times vary, but an accelerated degree in psychology may allow learners to complete their training in less than two years. These programs usually feature 120 credits, the same as traditional programs, though the courses are condensed.Is a BA in psychology worth it? ›
A degree in psychology opens up many opportunities to have a positive effect on someone's life. For example, as a practitioner in the field, you may help people overcome the effects of trauma, deal with a mental illness, face a mental health crisis or achieve personal goals.Is it better to get a BA or BS in psychology? ›
Explore Psychology Careers
A BA opens up opportunities in fields like criminal justice and social work, while a BS prepares learners for more research-based, clinical professions. Many psychology bachelor's degrees prepare students for specializations, like organizational psychology and forensic psychology.
Can I become a clinical psychologist with a BA in psychology? ›
A bachelor's degree (B.A/B.Sc) in Psychology will help you explore the many aspects that psychology has to offer. However, you cannot become a psychologist right after your graduation. You need to study further for that.Can you be a psychologist with a Bachelor's degree? ›
Psychology is consistently one of the most popular college majors in the country. Yet there's a common misconception that there aren't many careers in psychology with a bachelor's degree. This is because anyone who intends to become a practicing clinical psychologist must earn a doctoral degree.Should I choose psychology or applied psychology? ›
While in psychology it focuses on the everyday phenomenon. so, psychology is where you learn about normal theories, memory and personality. Applied psychology is specialised about practicality and research oriented. thus you should pursue a course in which you are interested.Which is better MA in psychology or MA in applied psychology? ›
Applied Psychology is more inclined towards the specific psychological topics. M.A. Psychology focuses more on explaining everyday phenomenons while M.A. Applied Psychology subjects explain the Structure of psyche and its impacts on life.Can you become a psychologist with applied psychology? ›
Firstly, if you want to be an clinical Psychologist, then MSc Applied Psychology can also lead you to the profile. So don't worry about. Now Applied Psychology and Clinical Psychology both applies the Psychological Researches conducted over the years in order to solve problems.How many years does it take to become an educational psychologist? ›
The Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology (DECPsy) is a three-year programme of professional training in educational psychology, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).Is it hard to become an educational psychologist? ›
Becoming an educational psychologist needs years of education, training, skill and experience. It can be a demanding and rigorous process. You have to make it a career goal right from the beginning when you start your higher education. Firstly, you need to earn four years of Bachelor's Degree in psychology.Can you be a psychologist without a PhD? ›
You will need a 3-year Taught Doctorate in Clinical Psychology to gain eligibility to be registered by the HPC (Health Professions Council) enabling you to become (and use the protected title) Clinical Psychologist, and to be eligible to be registered as a Chartered Psychologist (C Psychol) with the BPS.What is the difference between a PsyD and a psychologist? ›
Like a PhD in Psychology, the Doctor of Psychology degree (PsyD) prepares students to practice psychology in a wide range of clinical settings. A PsyD, however, focuses more on clinical practice and less on research. As a result, this degree requires fewer research and statistics courses and thus takes less time.Which is better clinical or educational psychology? ›
Clinical psychologists may choose to work with different groups across during their career. However, educational psychologists work principally with children, young people and those involved in supporting them. This might be families, schools, teachers, social workers and health professionals.
Do educational psychologists provide therapy? ›
EPs, as applied psychologists with knowledge of both child and adolescent development and educational contexts, may be well placed to deliver therapeutic interventions in schools.What is the easiest psychology degree to get? ›
Psychology Studies at the Undergraduate Levels
Two-year degrees in psychology offered by community colleges and junior colleges are the easiest psychology programs you will find. Available on campus and online, associate's degrees in psychology typically require around 60 credits of college coursework.
A doctoral degree is the highest level of education in the field of psychology. These degrees make you eligible to work without supervision and with the legal title of psychologist. Depending on the degree you choose, earning a doctorate in psychology could take anywhere from 4 to 8 years.Which degree is the highest that most psychologists will obtain? ›
Most clinical, counseling, and research psychologists need a doctoral degree. Students can complete a Ph.D. in psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. A Ph.D. in psychology is a research degree that is obtained after taking a comprehensive exam and writing a dissertation based on original research.Is 45 too late to become a psychologist? ›
not at all. Age is just a number ! If you are really passionate about the subject, go ahead, learn and practice as a psychologist. It's never too late if it is your passion.What is the fastest way to become a psychologist? ›
The quickest way to become a clinical psychologist is to enroll in an accelerated or competency-based undergraduate program. These programs usually take around 2.5 years to complete.How do I start a career in psychology? ›
- The first step to becoming a psychologist is to earn a bachelor's degree.
- Earn a master's and/or doctorate in psychology.
- Complete an internship or postdoctoral program.
- Obtain a psychology license.
A bachelor's degree in psychology typically takes four years to complete. There are both B.A. (bachelor of arts) psychology degrees and B.S. (bachelor of science) psychology degrees. B.A. programs typically allow students to take more electives and a B.S. program involves more math and science courses.How can I make money with a BA in psychology? ›
- School Faculty. $61,000 median salary per year. ...
- Case Worker. $50,390 median salary per year. ...
- Market Research Analyst. $60,000-105,000 per year. ...
- Human Resources Manager. ...
- Training or Development Specialist. ...
- Technical Writer. ...
- Real Estate Agent. ...
- Computer Programmer.
Answer. Dear Rito, Maths is not necessary to study Psychology.
Is a BS more respected than a BA? ›
Neither degree ranks as better than the other, but one might better suit specific career goals. For example, students interested in technical careers may need a BS for graduate school applications. In some majors, undergrads choose between a BA and a BS. Many psychology programs, for instance, offer both options.Which degree is best after BA in psychology? ›
- PG Diploma in counselling psychology.
- PG Diploma in clinical psychology.
- PG Diploma in Mental Health Counselling.
- PG Diploma in rehabilitation psychology.
- MA Psychology.
- MA in Applied Psychology.
- Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology.
- Doctor of Philosophy in stress analysis.
To become a Registered Psychometrician in the Philippines, a graduate of BS in Psychology needs to pass the Psychometrician Licensure Exam. The examination is conducted by the Board of Psychology under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).Can I be a neuropsychologist with a BA in psychology? ›
Neuropsychologists usually need a doctoral degree in psychology with a neuropsychology concentration, plus a year or more at an internship (depending on the state). To practice clinically, you also need to apply for a state license and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).Can I become a neuropsychologist with a BA psychology degree? ›
The path to becoming a neuropsychologist begins with obtaining a Bachelor's Degree, preferably with a major in Psychology, followed by an Honours Degree in Psychology. Alternatively, you could do a four-year Bachelor of Psychology Degree (which has a “built-in” Honours equivalent).What field of psychology makes the most money? ›
Psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors. The average salary is $217,798, according to PayScale.Can I do a psychology masters without a psychology degree? ›
This depends on the program, but there are many schools that allow you to pursue a master's in psychology without a bachelor's specifically in the field. Some schools offer “bridge” programs where students with non-psychology backgrounds can take foundational courses before applying to their master's program.What can I do instead of psychology? ›
- Adoption specialist.
- Child advocate.
- Career counselor.
- Probation officer.
- SEO specialist.
- Marketing consultant.
- Social worker.
In India, the scope of BA (Hons) Applied Psychology is quite vast. After completing this degree, one can work in various fields such as human resources, marketing, advertising, sales, customer service, teaching, and counselling.What are 11 different psychology jobs within the applied psychology field? ›
- Research assistant.
- Career counselor.
- Disability specialist.
- Administrative assistant.
- Behavior technician.
- Child protection practitioner.
- Probation officer.
Is a Masters in applied psychology worth it? ›
The good news is that a master's in psychology can be a valuable asset in your job search. This degree can be useful for employment opportunities in a variety of fields, from family services to behavioral counseling and beyond, and it may open up salary opportunities that you otherwise may not have had.Can I get a job with a MA in psychology? ›
Jobs in Local, State, and Federal Government
Government offices frequently hire individuals with a master's degree in psychology to perform research or provide psychological services. Some different government positions that you might qualify for include: Developmental specialist.
As per Payscale, the average MA Psychology job income in India is INR 4.83 LPA.Which field is best for masters in psychology? ›
- Social Work.
- Marriage and Family Therapy.
- Mental Health Counseling.
- School Counseling/Educational Psychology.
- Rehabilitation Counseling.
- Clinical Psychology.
- Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Basic vs. Applied Psychology. Basic psychology is different than applied psychology in that it focuses on theory and fundamental understanding over practical solutions to issues. Applied psychology focuses on the real-world implementation of these theories to better serve their community.What is academic psychology? ›
Academic psychology is a biological and experimental branch of science concerned with the mind, brain and behaviour. Because its subject matter is “human nature” it has widespread applications to healthcare, education, industry and commerce.What are the five applied psychology? ›
Applied psychology includes the areas of clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, instructional psychology, human factors, forensic psychology, engineering psychology, as well as many other areas such as school psychology, sports psychology and community psychology.What do academic research psychologists do? ›
Also known as experimental psychologists, research psychologists study a broad range of human and animal behavior. They design and conduct experiments exploring how people act, think, behave, interact, learn, feel, and perform under different conditions.Is a psychiatrist an academic psychologist? ›
Psychiatrists differ from psychologists because they are medical doctors and can prescribe medication. In a sense, psychiatrists focus on the body and mind as a whole while psychologists primarily work with the mind. The treatment of a patient can include: medication prescription and management.What do educational psychologists do? ›
Educational psychologists help people understand situations differently so they can resolve their problems. We often take the lead in facilitating meetings with a variety of professionals in multi- disciplinary teams, as well as with children, whānau and caregivers.
What is the academic side of psychology? ›
Academic psychology is opposite to applied psychology. That is, academic psychology focuses on using scientific and scholarly research to understand all aspects of human behavior and cognition. While most people assume academic psychologists are either counselors or professors, there are also other careers available.What degree do you need to be a psychology researcher? ›
Career opportunities in research psychology typically require a master's or doctorate degree (see: Grad School Prep). Researchers work mostly within higher education in psychology departments, as well as medical and business schools.Do research psychologist make a lot of money? ›
How much does a Research Psychologist make? Research psychologists make $90,440 per year on average, or $43.48 per hour, in the United States.Do academic researchers make money? ›
The average researcher makes around $70,000 a year. However, this amount can range from $44,000 to $240,000 a year. Factors such as the type of researcher, the company, and location, impact how much a researcher can earn.Can educational psychologists diagnose? ›
Yes, an Educational Psychologist is able to diagnose both Dyspraxia and Dyslexia. They may also recommend and devise strategies to assist children with any of these intellectual development disorders overcome any obstacles they may be facing in their learning and growth.Is it better to become a psychologist or psychiatrist? ›
Job Outlook for Psychologists vs. Psychiatrists. Generally, both psychologists and psychiatrists can make a comfortable living working in various industries and environments. However, according to data from PayScale, psychiatrists have the potential to earn significantly more than psychologists.Do you need a degree to be an educational psychologist? ›
To qualify for a position as an educational psychologist, candidates need to earn a doctorate.Is an educational psychologist a Dr? ›
Both programmes are of doctorate level. The Doctorate in Educational Psychology is a professional taught programme (units and dissertation) and serves as the entry qualification for professional practice and employment in educational psychology.What are examples of educational psychology? ›
- Studying the most effective methods for teaching people with specific learning challenges like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, or dyslexia.
- Researching how well people learn in different settings.
Clinical psychologists make up the single largest specialty area in psychology. 1 Clinicians are psychologists who assess, diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They frequently work in mental health centers, private or group practices or hospitals.
What are the 4 main types of psychology? ›
There are different types of psychology, such as cognitive, forensic, social, and developmental psychology.What are cons in majoring in psychology? ›
- You will need to earn a bachelor's degree. ...
- You will need to earn a master's degree. ...
- You may need to earn a doctorate degree. ...
- Your education will come with a hefty price tag. ...
- You may end up in debt. ...
- You may need to complete clinical training.