Educational psychologists are trained professionals who help students overcome mental, physical, emotional and social difficulties that prevent them from participating in academic and non-academic activities at school.
Educational psychologists are employed by local authorities in departments which deal with education, social welfare and youth services. Other employers include regional health assessment centres, educational psychology services (EPS), child psychiatry units and paediatric health centres.
The majority of jobs are in the public sector. However, opportunities for educational psychologists are becoming more common with private consultancy firms, charities, not-for-profit organisations, independent schools and higher education institutions.
Educational psychologists lead solo or group sessions to observe, test and evaluate the specific needs of young service users. They also assess pupils’ needs through one-on-one interviews.
Following this assessment process, you’ll be liaising with parents, school authorities and other interested parties to design, develop and implement educational and behavioural management programmes.
As well as these hands-on responsibilities, you’ll have to do your fair share of administrative tasks. For instance, you’ll be tasked with maintaining detailed records of counselling sessions and any other interactions you have with troubled students.
Educational psychologists can provide as much help to academic institutions as the students whom they are supporting, often playing an integral role in the development of educational policy and strategies to improve academic performance standards.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for trainee education psychologists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland tend to range between £22,000 and £30,000, while qualified and registered educational psychologists can earn between £30,000 and £52,000 a year.
Senior educational psychologists with bags of experience can even earn up to £63,000.
In Scotland, educational psychologists can earn between £40,000 and £50,000 per annum, while senior and principal educational psychologists can earn around £50,000 to £60,000.
Educational psychologists work from a central-office, usually the local education authority premises, and travel to conduct their testing and assessment duties in schools, community centres and students’ homes.
Educational psychologists tend to work between eight and ten hours a day, but some additional evening and weekend hours may be required from time to time (mostly in cases where solo evaluation and discussions with immediate family members are required).
The minimum requirements and skills required to become an educational psychologist in Scotland are slightly different for prospective trainees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
No matter where you live in the UK, you will need a degree in psychology which is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Don’t fret if you’re already doing a different degree though; you can always do a conversion course!
In England and Wales, a PhD in educational psychology must be completed following an undergraduate degree. In Scotland, you’ll need to do a master’s in educational psychology and the BPS Award in educational psychology too.
All educational psychologists need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) before they can start practising.
Training & progression
Training is mainly provided whilst on the job. However, in order to be successful post-qualification, educational psychologists are required to keep up-to-date on the latest developments and trends in the industry, such as new forms of treatment and innovative assessment methods.
As you progress in your career, you may move into a senior educational psychologist position or you may wish to specialise in a niche area of educational psychology.
Some professionals in this area even go freelance and offer their services to a range of different clients.