The dedication of educational psychologists is rewarded with the ability to help students learn and thrive
Educational psychologists help children or young people who are experiencing problems that hinder their successful learning and participation in school and other activities. These problems can include a range of emotional and social problems or learning difficulties.
As an educational psychologist, you will help children and young people, aged between ten and 19 years of age, in partnership with parents, teachers, social workers, doctors and other people involved in their education.
You will work in a variety of ways including observations, interviews and assessments of the child. Educational psychologists offer a range of appropriate interventions, such as learning programmes and collaborative work with teachers or parents.
You might also provide in-service training for teachers and other professionals on issues such as behaviour and stress management. A further aspect to the job is research and advising on educational provisions and policies.
Duties typically involve:
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland salaries are set using the Soulbury Agreement. You can find current Soulbury pay scales via the National Union of Teachers (NUT).
Pay scales in Scotland are set by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) and are similar to those set by the Soulbury Committee.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Formal working hours tend to follow the normal nine to five pattern, often with some evening work for parent-teacher meetings. Flexibility is common provided the job requirements are met.
Career breaks and part-time work are possible.
Full details of the training required to become a registered educational psychologist with the HCPC are available from the British Psychological Society (BPS). You will need the following qualifications:
To use the title 'educational psychologist', you will need to be registered with the HCPC. This involves completing a Doctorate in educational psychology (or equivalent) approved by the HCPC. Contact the HCPC for more information on the entry requirements for their register.
In Scotland, all psychologists employed by local authorities must be chartered and must also be full members of the:
Admissions tutors for Doctoral programmes will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2 degree without a higher qualification, such as an MSc or MPhil, ideally in an education-related area. However, candidates with a 2:2 and exceptional experience may be successful. Contact admissions tutors for further details.
Search for postgraduate courses in educational psychology.
For further details on how to become an educational psychologist and how to get funding for the government's training scheme see the Department for Education - Educational Psychology.
Funding is only available to applicants who are UK residents and intend to seek a permanent position as an educational psychologist with a local authority in England after successful completion of the programme.
Funding is likely to cover fees for all three years with a bursary for the first year. Trainees will be required to seek employment in a trainee post with a local authority for their second and third years. Failure to undertake this may result in the recovery of al,l or part, of the grant.
Competition for course places and funding is fierce, although the removal of the training grant in Scotland may affect future applications. There are 150 places a year available across 12 English universities. The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) runs the central application process for all educational psychology funded training scheme places.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland applications are made directly to institutions. These are the:
Early application is advisable and funding options are available in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish government no longer offers a training grant to support people doing the MSc. This has been replaced by a loan of up to £3,400 a year from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
You will need to show:
For acceptance onto a postgraduate course, you will need to be able to demonstrate that you have relevant experience of working with children in educational, childcare, or community settings. Usually you will be required to provide evidence of at least one year's full-time experience, although two years are sometimes required.
Experience as a teacher is very relevant, although it is no longer a requirement. Teachers may be given exemptions from parts of the Doctorate. Contact course directors for exemption details.
Most educational psychologists in the UK are employed by local authorities and are based in the psychological services of the education departments working in:
In Scotland, there are 32 employing local authorities and most newly qualified educational psychologists will be employed by the local authority or educational psychology services (EPS).
In Northern Ireland, employers are the Education and Library Boards (ELB) Northern Ireland.
Other public sector employers, where you might find yourself the only educational psychologist, include:
You might elect to work in a research establishment or university and become involved in teaching as well as research. In most cases your employer is likely to be within the public sector.
One growing area is working freelance, as a private consultant or within a specialised consultancy. The terminology varies, but the work might include some or all of the following:
Look for job vacancies at:
After you qualify as an educational psychologist, your training and learning will continue throughout your career.
There is an ongoing need for keeping up to date with the latest research and ideas. This research might concern conditions such as dyspraxia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The research may also involve gaining specialist knowledge in conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
There are also new therapeutic techniques or 'tools', such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or hypnotherapy that could benefit clients.
Continuing professional development (CPD) may be through short courses, reading and personal research, or attending conferences and networking.
Other training needs, such as enhanced IT skills, team working and time management courses, are normally available from your employer.
For promotion to more senior posts where additional skills are called for, e.g. staff appraisal or supervision of trainees, other training is likely to be available.
Individuals aspiring to senior roles might find a formal management qualification useful.
In local authority work there is a defined organisational structure and a clear progression route to roles of senior and principal educational psychologist, but there are a limited number of steps on the ladder.
In a large authority, psychological services are usually organised into districts, with individual psychologists responsible for the majority of the work in their own area. Also, there are likely to be some specialist posts held by experienced practitioners, e.g. working in specialist units or with one particular condition.
Career development can take many forms. For some people the option to become self-employed, undertake work on a freelance basis or become an active member within the profession would provide new challenges and be considered as career enhancement. There are also opportunities to influence policies and develop best-practice models.
Another way you might develop your career is by specialising in a particular area of psychology, often selected through local need.
If you are in a position to choose a specialty, opt for one that you have an affinity with as you should enjoy the research.
As your expertise and interests develop, your career could move into new areas or branches of psychology, transferring your skills to other careers.
One example could be the skills and knowledge gained from working in schools, helping staff and pupils to better manage those with different disabilities. These skills could then be used in other types of workplaces, such as helping to better manage a workforce with disabilities, an area associated with occupational psychology.
Vacancies are not evenly distributed across the country so geographical mobility will increase your development options and may be required for promotion.