School Psychologist Salary

school psychologist salary
School psychology is a career that puts a passion for helping others together with a love for education. School psychologists primarily work in traditional K-12 schools, but there are positions for school psychologists at all educational levels. And these positions are available across the United States. But how much does a school psychologist make each year?

If you are considering a career as a school psychologist, here is what you need to know about your potential salary and what factors into how much you might make in the future.

School Psychologist Salary

Wondering how much you could earn as a school psychologist? The median full-time salary for school psychologists in the United States is $74,000. There are, however, some differences based on region. The Central Region has a median annual salary of $72,000 while the Southeast Region’s median annual salary is $63,000. Furthermore, the Western Region has a median salary of $80,000.

The truth of the matter is that pay depends on the pay scale approved by the school district or the state in which you work. Factors worked into your salary can include your college degree status and your previous work experience.

Let us look at the specific cities that pay the most for school psychologists:

  • Santa Rosa, CA: $138,550
  • Jefferson City, Missouri: $133,640
  • Los Angeles, CA: $125,020
  • San Diego, CA: $121,490
  • Oxnard, CA: $120,830

Now, let’s look at the states that are paying the most:

  • New Mexico: $136,704
  • California: $115,830
  • Hawaii: $110,780
  • Louisiana: $109,180
  • Oregon: $108,000

As you can see, earnings are all about location, location, location. Right now, the Western Region has the cities that pay the best for a highly skilled school psychologist. These areas tend to be less populated or are situated along borders. Of course, if you do not live in these areas and cannot relocate, some US states and school districts might be willing to pay you a more competitive salary.

Earning Potential

As already mentioned, your potential earnings hinge on several key factors:

  • The district or state pay scale
  • Your education level/credentialing status
  • Previous work experience

They can also depend on the type of setting in which you work. Most school psychologists work in a traditional public school, but they can also work in public charter schools, private schools (including private charter schools), and colleges and universities. There are also school psychologists employed in independent practices, the State Department of Education, and hospital or medical settings.

School Psychologist Salary vs Other Salaries

How do school psychologist salaries stack up to those in other sub-fields of psychology? A trained psychologist will usually work in one of three settings:

  • A school setting
  • A clinical setting
  • A counseling setting

These subfields do have some overlap given that they are all working within the same general field. It is entirely possible that a school psychologist will provide counseling to the family of a student they are also counseling.

Out of these three subfields, the clinical psychologist typically earns the highest salary. They have a median annual salary of $82,510 with a projected job growth of 9.9% in the next few years.

A counseling psychologist can make somewhere in the same ballpark. But, again, salaries are highly dependent on location for all subfields. The states that pay higher salaries to school psychologists tend to also pay higher salaries to clinical psychologists and counselors.

Where You Will Work

There is a wide range of versatility in terms of where school psychologists work even though the job title might automatically make you think of public K-12 schools. While that is where the majority of school psychologists work, that is not the only option out there. A lot of colleges and universities are looking for school psychologists to work with their students.

Those working in K-12 school settings often work with children who are struggling with strong emotions that affect their learning. For example, these psychologists might work with kids who are being abused at home or who have endured the tragic loss of a parent.

Those working in colleges or universities will work with adult students facing their own unique struggles. These psychologists will need to be aware of drug and alcohol use on campus, domestic violence situations, and other extra-curriculars going on, on and off of the campus.

There are other settings, including hospitals and medical offices, in which school psychologists might find employment. However, these positions are harder to find.

Degree(s) You Will Need

You will need several college degrees to qualify for a school psychologist role. First, you will need to earn your bachelor’s degree in Psychology or a related field from an accredited college or university. From there, you will want to pursue a master’s degree in Psychology. A Bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years to complete but gives you a solid foundation for the principles and methods used in the field of psychology. A Master’s degree gives you more specialized education and opportunities to advance your career.

You will then need to earn your PhD or PsyD in psychology. A PsyD will gear you more toward a clinically based career while a PhD is more oriented toward the counseling aspect of psychology.

Credentialing is imperative for school psychologists. This means that, once you have your doctoral degree in hand, you will need to sit for your certifications with the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, from 2021 to 2031, the field of school psychology will grow by about 5.5%. In other words, about 3,200 jobs should open up within that time period. Growth will probably be faster in certain areas where there is a higher demand for school psychologists.

Advancing Your Career as a School Psychologist

You will need to pursue graduate and post-graduate degrees to work as a school psychologist. Obtaining a master’s degree allows you to earn a reasonable income each year, and it puts you in the top 14% of graduates who are looking to advance their careers.

With a doctoral degree to your name, you can earn an even higher annual salary. You can choose which route you want to go: a PsyD for a more clinical approach or a PhD for a counseling career. There are benefits to both, depending on your preferences.

Finally, you are going to want to get certified as a school psychologist by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). Certification is optional but highly desirable since you will be professionally recognized as a specialist within your field. You might be seen as a more attractive candidate for a job position, and specialists in this field are in higher demand.

When considering your options, think about becoming a school psychologist. Depending on where you work, you could earn a high annual salary and have a lot of job options at your disposal. Having a master’s degree, doctoral degree, and board certification will give you the extra advantage as they reflect both your education and employment experiences.