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Educational psychologist job profile

Educational psychology is concerned with helping children and young people experiencing problems that can hinder their chance of learning.

Educational psychology is concerned with children and young people in educational and early years settings.

Educational psychologists tackle challenges such as learning difficulties, social and emotional problems, issues around disability as well as more complex developmental disorders.

They work in a variety of ways including observations, interviews and assessments and offer consultation, advice and support to teachers, parents, the wider community as well as the young people concerned.

They research innovative ways of helping vulnerable young people and often train teachers, learning support assistants and others working with children.

Where do educational psychologists practice?

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, and 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 to become a BPS chartered member

To become a Chartered Member of the society through the educational psychology training route, you will need the following qualifications:

  1. Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This is achieved by completing a society-accredited degree or conversion course
  2. A society-accredited Doctorate in Educational Psychology  or, for Scotland only, an accredited masters course in Educational Psychology followed by the Qualification in Educational Psychology (Scotland) (Stage 2) 

Applications for the Doctorate courses in England are made through the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP).

The University of Cardiff and Queens University Belfast operate their own admissions process. Please contact the relevant institution for more information.

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.

Educational psychologist work opportunities

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.

Salaries for educational psychologists 

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 provinces 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.

Educational psychologist jobs

Job advertisements may be found in the following locations:

Further information about educational psychology

What to do with a 2:2?

Admissions tutors will not normally accept graduates with a second class-upper (2:2) unless they have achieved a higher qualification too. Courses are looking for evidence that you have demonstrated academic and research ability at 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 an education-related area. Contact the courses directly for more information on their entry criteria.

What funding is available for educational psychologists?

Funding is available for places in England through the Educational Psychology Funded Training Scheme (EPFT). The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is responsible for the administration of the scheme on behalf of the Department for Education. The application process is managed by the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP).

Please contact the relevant Universities directly for information on funding opportunities in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

There are also a number of other websites that offer information about postgraduate funding. A few examples are listed below:

Other useful educational psychology links