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Becoming an Educational Psychologist
What do educational psychologists do?
What they do
Educational psychologists tackle the problems encountered by young people in education, which may involve learning difficulties and social or emotional problems. They carry out a wide range of tasks with the aim of enhancing children's learning and enabling teachers to become more aware of the social factors affecting teaching and learning. Reports may be written about children for allocation of special educational places or as part of court proceedings or children's panels.
Where they work
Local education authorities employ the majority of educational psychologists. They work in schools, colleges, nurseries and special units, primarily with teachers and parents. They regularly liaise with other professionals in education, health and social services. A growing number work as independent or private consultants.
The work of an educational psychologist can either be directly with a child (assessing progress, giving counselling) or indirectly (through their work with parents, teachers and other professionals).
Direct work involves some form of assessment to uncover a child’s problem through consultation with professional colleagues, observation, interview or use of test materials. Interventions might plan learning programmes and collaborative work with a teacher. Recommendations are then made to determine the most appropriate educational provision for that child. Indirect work requires consultation and careful discussion, as the psychologist's contribution needs to be seen as relevant to people who know little about psychology.
In their role within a local authority, educational psychologists are often called upon to advise or join working groups concerned with organisation and policy planning. With their research background they are in an ideal and often unique position within the education authority to plan and carry out research activities.
How do I become one?
To become a Chartered Member of the Society through the educational psychology training route, you will need the following qualifications:
- Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This is achieved by completing a Society accredited degree or conversion course.
- A Society accredited Doctorate in Educational Psychology or, for Scotland only, an accredited masters course in Educational Psychology followed by the Society's Award in Educational Psychology.
In order to use the title Educational Psychologist, you will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This will involve completing a Doctorate in Educational Psychology (or equivalent) that has been approved by the HCPC. Contact the HCPC for more information on the entry requirements for their register.
What is relevant work experience and how do I get it?
Examples of settings in which relevant experience is likely to be gained include work as a teacher, a graduate assistant in an educational psychology service, a learning support assistant, an educational social worker, a learning mentor, a speech and language therapist, a care worker and a worker in early years settings.
Voluntary experience of various kinds may assist applicants in demonstrating a breadth of relevant experience. Whatever kind of work has been done, courses will be primarily interested in what applicants have learnt from the experience that is relevant to work as an educational psychologist and how they have been able to apply the knowledge of psychology gained through their first degree.
How much will I get paid?
In England and Wales pay and conditions are negotiated with local government employers (Soulbury Committee) by four trade Unions: the Association of Educational Psychologists, the Association of Professionals in Education and Children’s Trusts, the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Youth and Community Education Officers.
In Northern Ireland educational psychologists are employed by the province's five education and library boards, and salaries are also negotiated within the Soulbury Committee.
Structured professional assessments have been introduced to recognise the contributions of the Soulbury paid officers. These operate locally but according to agreed national criteria.
For up to date salary information please contact the Association of Educational Psychologists or the National Union of Teachers.
Where are jobs advertised?
- In Psychologist Appointments, which is part of The Psychologist, the Society's monthly publication magazine
- In national newspapers (e.g. The Times, The Guardian, The Independent)
- In specialist publications such as those from the Department for Education
- In Association of Educational Psychologists mailings
What if I'm a mature student?
Mature students often ask us if their age will prevent them from succeeding in a psychology career. You can find out more information under the Change of Career section.
What to do with a 2:2?
Admissions tutors will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2 unless they have achieved a higher qualification too. Courses are looking for evidence that you have demonstrated academic and research ability of a level commensurate with doctoral level study. Usually this means an MSc or MPhil in which the candidate has successfully completed an applied research project, preferably in a education-related area. Contact the courses directly for more information on their entry criteria.
Where do I find out more?
- For information on the application process for all funded places in England please view the Department for Education website.
- The British Psychological Society's Student Members Group is a networking group for undergraduates in psychology. Its website has useful interviews with psychologists following various career paths.
- The Society's Division of Educational and Child Psychology. Its web pages offer access to publications, conferences, and special interest groups and chat rooms for its membership.
- Association for Educational Psychologists, the trade union for Educational psychologists, can give information about salaries and working conditions.
- Careers resources: published work covering educational psychology and other areas of psychology.
- BPS Shop: Find an array of educational psychology publications through our online shop.
- Contact us: request form for further specific information.