Careers in Educational Psychology
Educational Psychologists tend to work for Local Education Authorities and are concerned with issues such as helping children with learning difficulties. They are also work with young people who have social or emotional problems to assist them in being able to continue their education.
Educational Psychologists can either work directly with individual students or indirectly by advising teachers, parents or other educational professionals.
Working directly with children can involve assessing their progress or counselling them so their performance at school will improve. This can involve interviewing, direct observation (say of class room behaviour), use of structured testing material or discussions with other education professionals. Thus the training for the role (discussed below) is varied as there is a need to be able to interpret a variety of information and to report the findings, often to a non-specialised audience. This will lead to recommendations of how to improve a child's education and possibly ongoing work with relevant teachers.
Alternatively Educational Psychologists may work to develop appropriate policies or to train other professionals. The research element in any psychology training can be particularly important in this role, especially when there is a need to commission or carry out new research to inform policy choices.
Training To Work As An Educational PsychologistThe basic pattern of psychology training to prepare for a career in Educational Psychology is similar to other careers. At its most basic you will need to have an undergraduate degree from a psychology course approved by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This will lead to what is technically called the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR). Following this you will need to complete an approved postgraduate degree (and relevant training) leading to the status of Chartered Psychologist.
As other psychology programmes, competition is very intense for places on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes so it is important to be able to display interest so as to ensure selection. You might also find it useful to undertake relevant work experience such as a Learning Support Assistant or a Speech and Language Therapist.
At the undergraduate level most degrees follow a broadly similar curriculum. If you are clear that you wish to work as an Educational Psychologist you may wish to choose a University that either specialises in Developmental/Child Psychology or allows you to study modules from relevant degrees such as Educational Research. However, this is not necessary but again would help to convince an admissions tutor for a postgraduate degree that you are committed to educational psychology.
Relevant postgraduate degrees are currently offered in only 16 UK universities. The degrees are now mostly all structured to lead to a Doctorate in Educational Psychology (D.Ed.Psy) and last for 3 years (full time). The degree has periods of academic study, personal research and work placements. Courses offered by Scottish universities are usually two years long and lead to an MSc.
If you lack an approved degree in psychology you may still meet the first requirement to working as an Educational Psychologist (i.e. the GBR referred to above). You will need to complete either an approved conversion course or study for the BPS' own qualifying examination. All Educational Psychologists need to have completed a relevant postgraduate degree.
If you wish to practice as an Educational Psychologist in Scotland you will also need to meet the additional requirements set out in the "Award in Educational Psychology".
SummaryMost educational psychologists work in one of the Local Educational Authorities across the UK and the work can be a mixture of supporting individual students, training other education professionals or developing appropriate research based policies.
The training model is similar to other psychology professions. Essentially a sequence of an approved psychology undergraduate degree, suitable work experience and an approved post graduate degree. At the end you are likely to be employed as an Assistant Educational Psychologist with a salary of around £27,000. With experience, you will earn between £30 and £40,000 with more senior posts earning up to £55,000.