Educational psychologists analyze and improve the learning process in educational environments. They evaluate students and teachers through observation, interviews and testing, then develop specific teaching methods to promote learning.
Educational psychologists also work as school counselors or in teaching positions. Some take consulting jobs for learning institutions or educational software companies.
An undergraduate degree in psychology or education will provide a good foundation for those planning to pursue an advanced degree in educational psychology.
A master’s degree is adequate preparation for many jobs in educational psychology. Some school counselor positions as well as consultant work can be obtained with a master’s degree. Educational psychology master’s programs are a two to three year commitment.
A Ph.D. or Psy.D. in educational psychology will provide better job opportunities and higher salaries. A doctorate degree takes four to six years to complete and primes participants for faculty and research jobs in academia. A doctorate in educational psychology is also usually required for school administration management positions.
Educational psychologists evaluate the effectiveness of different teaching methods, assess learning motivation and learning problems, and study social factors in school settings. They often specialize in a particular group of individuals, such as gifted, special needs, or “at risk” children.
Educational psychologists support learning in schools through a number of ways:
School administration positions and teaching careers are another popular career path for educational psychologists. A master’s or doctorate in educational psychology can help secure positions that manage the implementation of educational programs in primary schools. Other school administration job duties involve consulting with teachers and principals on classroom management and interpreting students’ test results to determine who is eligible for special services.
A career in educational psychology can be quite profitable. Those with doctorate degrees typically earn more. According to a 2007 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), doctoral-level psychologists in educational administration earned a median salary of $110,000. Psychologists employed in direct human services in schools (such as counseling) earned an overall median salary of $87,000. Psychologists involved in business/industry consulting jobs earned a median salary of $100,000.
Teaching positions in educational psychology are plentiful. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2006, 29 percent of all psychologists were employed in educational positions other than teaching. This includes work in such areas as testing and administration. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “faster than average” growth in all areas of psychology over the next few years. This is partly due to the increased demand for psychological services in educational institutions.