School psychologists play a crucial role in the educational system by supporting students’ mental health and academic success. If you’re passionate about supporting children, helping them overcome challenges, and providing them with the tools they need to achieve their full potential, a career as a school psychologist might be the perfect fit for you.

In this guide, ProCare Therapy experts break down everything you need to know about becoming a school psychologist, including the education needed, how long it takes to become a school psychologist, the difference between a psychologist and a school psychologist, the benefits of the career, and more.

What is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a School Psychologist?

While both psychologists and school psychologists hold degrees in psychology and work to improve mental health, the primary difference between the two jobs is their areas of focus. Psychologists typically work with a wide range of clients, from children to adults, and address various mental health issues. School psychologists, on the other hand, specialize in working within the educational system and typically operate in schools, addressing the academic, emotional, and social needs of students, teachers, and families.

How Long Does It Take to Become a School Psychologist?

While the route to becoming a school psychologist looks different for everyone, it generally takes about six to seven years to become a fully certified school psychologist. This estimation considers four years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and two to three years to obtain a specialist or graduate degree in school psychology, complete required internship hours, obtain a national school psychologist credential, and receive state licensure. Some aspiring school psychologists may also choose to pursue a doctoral degree, which requires additional years of study.

How Many Years of School Are Needed to Become a School Psychologist?

The years of school needed to become a school psychologist varies by individual. For example, while no state requires a doctoral degree to become a school psychologist, many psychologists pursue this degree, resulting in an additional three to six years, depending on the individual. In addition, the time length varies greatly depending on whether prospective school psychologists attend school as full-time or part-time students.

Generally speaking, here’s how many years of school you will need to complete in order to apply for a national school psychologist credential:

  • Bachelor’s degree: 4-6 years
  • Specialist degree: 3-4 years


  • Graduate degree: 2-3 years

How to Become a School Psychologist

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree: Most aspiring school psychologists begin by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, or a related field.
  2. Obtain a graduate or specialist degree: After completing a bachelor’s degree, individuals need to earn a specialist or master’s degree in school psychology.
  3. Complete an internship: School psychology programs generally require students to complete a supervised internship, which provides valuable hands-on experience.
  4. Obtain national certification: Next, individuals must become a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), which is a credential issued by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). Prospective school psychologists will need a passing score on the Praxis #5402 examination to receive the NCSP credential, among other requirements.
  5. Acquire state licensure: Finally, school psychologists need to obtain a state license to practice in their chosen state. The state requirements to become a licensed school psychologist vary greatly from state to state, so we recommend checking with your state’s Department of Education to ensure you meet the most recent requirements.

What Are School Psychologist Online Programs?

Online school psychologist programs are graduate degree programs that can be completed primarily through remote learning. These programs allow students to complete coursework, collaborate with other students, meet with instructors, and attend lessons online, providing flexibility for those with work or family commitments.

Benefits of Attending an Online School Psychologist Program:

  • Flexibility: Online programs allow students to balance their education with other life commitments, such as work or family.
  • Accessibility: Students can access coursework and resources from anywhere with an internet connection, making it convenient for those who may not live near a university offering a school psychology program.
  • Networking opportunities: Online programs often connect students with professionals and peers from across the country, providing valuable networking opportunities.

How Hard Is It To Become a School Psychologist?

Becoming a school psychologist can be challenging, as it requires extensive education, training, and dedication. However, for those passionate about helping students and making a difference in the educational system, the hard work is well worth it.

Why Becoming a School Psychologist Is Worth It

A career as a school psychologist is incredibly rewarding, as school psychologists have the opportunity to make a significant positive impact on their students each day, enabling them to thrive throughout their educational journey and future endeavors. This positive impact makes the role incredibly fulfilling.

Additionally, with a high and growing demand for qualified professionals, school psychologists benefit from job security, opportunities for growth and career advancement, and high-paying salaries. Employment of school psychologists is expected to grow by 10.4% from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Explore ProCare’s School Psychologist opportunities

As a leading school therapy staffing agency, ProCare Therapy understands the significant role that school psychologists play in shaping the lives of children in school each and every day. This is one reason why we offer customized opportunities that suit your preferences and career goals, along with competitive salaries, extensive benefits packages, continuous career assistance, and many more perks.

Ready to apply for your dream job? Find helpful resources from ProCare, including an interview guide, resume guide, and license guide for school psychologists. Embark on an incredibly exciting and fulfilling career as a school psychologist with ProCare Therapy today by browsing our wide variety of school psychologist jobs!