Job descriptions and industry overviews

Psychologist (educational): job description

19 Jul 2023, 08:52

Educational psychologists assess the behavioural, social, emotional and educational needs of children and young people.

An educational psychologist speaking with a young person.

Educational psychologist : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Educational psychologists work with children and young people under 25 who experience barriers to learning. For example, they may have learning difficulties, emotional problems or have low self-confidence. An educational psychologist will assess their psychological and educational needs, and provide advice to ensure these needs are met.

Typical duties include:

  • meeting young people needing support.
  • observing young people at school.
  • speaking to children’s parents, carers and teachers.
  • conducting tests and interviews.
  • analysing children’s work to understand their strengths and challenges.
  • developing plans of support based on psychological theory to address young people’s needs.
  • liaising with schools, other health professionals (such as speech therapists and social workers) and parents/carers to ensure support is delivered.
  • training health professionals on new approaches and techniques.
  • writing reports.
  • conducting research.
  • advising and making recommendations on educational policies.

The work commonly requires local travel to visit clients in their homes or in schools, colleges and nurseries. Regularly dealing with the problems faced by children and young people can make the job stressful and emotionally demanding.

Graduate salaries

The Association of Educational Psychologists reports that starting salaries for trainee educational psychologists are around £25,000. Salaries are set nationally and rise at regular intervals. Earnings increase once you’re fully qualified and continue with professional development: senior educational psychologists’ salaries start at around £48,000.

If you work in London, you’re likely to be entitled to additional payments to cover the higher costs of living and working in the capital.

Typical employers of educational psychologists

  • Local authorities.
  • Educational consultancies.
  • Educational charities.
  • NHS trusts.

With experience, it’s possible to work as a freelance educational psychologist.

Jobs for educational psychologists are advertised on local authorities websites, specialist job sites and the websites of professional bodies within the field.

Qualifications and training required

You’ll need to study academic courses and vocational training to become an educational psychologist.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you'll need a psychology degree accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). If your degree isn’t in psychology, you can take a conversion course accredited by the BPS or study for a masters in psychology.

You’ll then need to complete a three-year professional doctorate in educational psychology that combines practical experience with academic knowledge. Applications for doctorates in England are made through the Association of Educational Psychologists, and government funding is available towards the cost of training.

In Scotland, the postgraduate element of study and training is an accredited masters course in educational psychology followed by a year in supervised practice.

Competition for postgraduate psychology courses is tough, so work experience will help your application stand out. You can gain experience through paid or voluntary work with children and young people.

Key skills for educational psychologists

  • The ability to relate to children and young adults.
  • Sensitivity.
  • The ability to cope with emotional situations.
  • Excellent listening skills.
  • Observational skills.
  • Verbal communication skills , including the ability to explain complex concepts to non-experts.
  • Team working skills.
  • Empathy and the ability to build rapport.
  • The drive to continue to research and learn throughout your career.

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