School Psychologist License: How To Get One

A school psychologist smiling and speaking with a student.

A school psychologist works directly within a school, offering support to any students who might need help and guidance. They can help students navigate the tricky world of education, and transition to life outside the school system.

School psychologists require a license to practice, and this license is issued by the state. Read this guide to learn more about how to obtain a school psychologist license.

How Do I Become A School Psychologist?

School psychologists typically need to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology, further education in school psychology, and complete supervised experience as a psychologist before becoming licensed.

It’s often necessary to receive specialized training in school psychology, even if you have a psychologist’s license, before you can apply for a school psychologist license. Having obtained a license, most states will require you to renew it periodically, and complete continuing education.

School psychologist licenses are issued at a state level, and each state will have its own unique requirements. However, formal education and experience are both standard requirements, and many states will need you to complete additional examinations before issuing the license.

If you are interested in becoming licensed as a school psychologist, then we recommend checking out the unique requirements of your state.

Steps To Obtaining A School Psychologist License

The exact requirements for obtaining a school psychologist license vary from state to state, but it typically follows a similar pathway. The standard steps to receive a school psychologist license are:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree, preferably majoring in psychology. It isn’t necessary to major in psychology, but it is beneficial when applying for a further education course. If you haven’t majored in psychology, you may need to complete additional courses before starting further education.
  • Complete further education in school psychology. This can take many different forms, including a master’s qualification, or an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree. These courses will typically need to be approved and recognized by the state. Although you can complete a doctoral degree, this is rarely necessary for qualifying as a school psychologist.
  • Gain supervised experience practicing psychology in a school setting. The level of experience required to obtain a school psychologist license does vary across the states. While some will require minimal experience, typically gained during education, others require prospective license applicants to complete full time work before they can qualify. Often, this experience will need to be completed in a school setting, with some states specifying a certain number of hours in public school.
  • Complete any additional examinations. Some states have certain examination requirements before issuing licenses to any psychologist, in any setting. These exams will typically be completed after you’ve finished any education and experience requirements. Examples of exams you may need to pass include the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), and your state’s jurisprudence exam.
  • Pass the background check. Once you’ve applied for your school psychologist’s license, you will need to pass a background check. Nowadays, this will often include electronic fingerprinting.

Many states offer school psychologist licensing through the Department of Education. This might not be the same board that offers psychologist’s licenses.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides information on the general requirements of each state, but we recommend checking your state’s Department of Education website for more details.

Renewing A School Psychologist License

It is likely you will need to renew your school psychologist license periodically, typically between every one and three years. The requirements for renewing your license will depend on which state issued your license.

Some states do require psychologists to complete continuing education, before they can renew their education. This will consist of a set number of hours dedicated to receiving additional education, with the hours tracked and recorded. In some states, you may need to complete additional exams before you can renew your license.

Although you may need to complete additional steps before renewing your license, the process is typically quite easy, and significantly quicker than obtaining the license in the first place.

License Reciprocity For School Psychologists

If you’re already licensed as a school psychologist in one state, often the quickest way to obtain a license in another state is by license reciprocity. This option allows school psychologists in good standing to transfer their credentials, rather than undertaking additional education and experience requirements.

The exact details of license reciprocity are set in place by each state. In many cases, a school psychologist will have to demonstrate that they’ve completed the licensing requirements to an equivalent level in another state.

If you’re interested in licensing reciprocity, check out the specific regulations for the state you intend to transfer to.

While many states offer an easy transition for psychologists in good standing, it isn’t unusual for there to be an additional examination or experience requirement.

For example, some states will expect those applying for license reciprocity to complete the jurisprudence exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I Have A School Psychologist License, Can I Practice Psychology Outside A School?

No, a school psychologist license only allows the license holder to practice psychology in a school setting. If you want to practice outside the school, you’ll need a psychologist’s license.

Psychologist’s licenses have different requirements, typically requiring the completion of a doctoral degree, and full-time work experience.

Do School Psychologists Get Summer Off?

While many school psychologists won’t work in the school during summer vacation, it wouldn’t be exactly accurate to say they get summer’s off work.

Instead, many school psychologists spend the summer break completing additional education, taking care of administrative work, and planning for the next school year.

Do You Have To Pay To Get A School Psychologist License?

Yes, you will need to pay a fee to obtain a school psychologist license. The exact fee is set by each individual state.

How Long Does It Take To Get A School Psychologist License?

Including education and experience, it often takes upwards of six years to gain a license to practice school psychology. While a bachelor’s degree will take four years, further education requirements can typically be completed in just two years.

Final Thoughts

To obtain a school psychologist license, you will typically need to complete a bachelor’s degree, further education in school psychology, and gain experience in the field. However, the exact requirements differ from state to state, so make sure to check out what your state expects.

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