Educational Psychology Careers and Degrees
Excelling in education is becoming increasingly important for young people facing a challenging world. Educational institutions and parents alike are looking for ways to help their children gain the most from their education and prepare them for independence and success.
Educational psychology is the study of the behavior of children, adolescents and adults in schools and colleges. An educational psychologist studies students' behavior and their ability to learn in academic environments. They focus on teaching methods and tools in classrooms in order to help facilitate learning. This includes conducting research on teaching styles and classroom dynamics. They also examine sub-groups within student populations, such as gifted students or students with learning disabilities or behavior problems.
Note that educational psychologists are different from school psychologists, who focus on the needs of individual students. School psychologists perform diagnostic assessments and performance evaluations, develop treatment plans, and monitor progress and effectiveness. In contrast, educational psychologists are concerned with the overall educational process, applying their expertise in the psychology of learning and the environment to improve the educational experience.
Completing a graduate degree in educational psychology or a closely related field is the first step to becoming an educational psychologist. Most universities offer educational psychology graduate programs.
To become an educational psychologist, you'll need a Master in Educational Psychology (MEd) degree. The course work for your MEd degree will cover various topics, such as:
- Research methodology
- Human learning
- Motivation in socio-cultural contexts
- Basic and applied levels of research
- Evaluating needs of private and public schools
If you want to become a school psychologist, you'll need an Education Specialist (EdS) in School Psychology. The EdS program generally takes between one and three years to complete and is a follow-up to the MEd degree.
A Doctor of Education (EdD) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Educational Psychology takes you deeper into the field of educational psychology. These degrees usually involve a four to six year commitment. Your doctoral-level coursework will include topics such as:
- Behavioral issues
- Educational challenges
- Emotional difficulties
- Human development
The Roles of Educational Psychologists and School Psychologists
With a career in educational psychology, you'll contribute to society by positively impacting the quality of education. Using research, educational psychologists study and develop teaching methods in schools and universities. They also introduce positive changes in the way students apply their education.
School psychologists, rather than focusing on learning methods, offer counseling services to students. They may offer academic and career guidance or help students through personal times of crisis.
Skills of an Educational Psychologist
To be a successful educational psychologist, you will need to be able to carry out the following tasks:
- Evaluate needs
- Analyze behavior in children
- Develop written and oral communication skills
- Make good decisions
- Have highly developed interactive skills
- Gain knowledge about child development
- Understand behavioral changes
- Understand individual education programming
- Develop assessment techniques
Your dedication to the welfare of young people and your ability to inspire confidence in them will lead you to success in an educational psychology career. You'll also need to keep up with current research findings and continually aim to improve the quality of teaching methods and classroom learning.
Salary and Wages
There are no precise salary statistics for educational psychologists at present; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for psychologists in general is expected to increase faster than the national average for all occupations through to 2014. The Princeton Review states that starting salaries will depend on the type of employer, but estimates indicate that new educational psychologists can expect to earn between $35,000 and $50,000 per year.
Outlook for Employment
With a career in educational psychology, you'll find job opportunities in schools and universities researching education methods. You may also find jobs doing educational consulting for companies creating classroom materials and educational institutions putting together online courses and programs.
An educational psychologist with a doctorate in applied fields such as health, school psychology or counseling has better prospects compared to other specializations in psychology. Additional training in quantitative research methods and computer science will also make you a more attractive job applicant.
Take the First Step
With a variety of opportunities available in the field of educational psychology, getting a degree is a great step to a rewarding career. See our extensive listing of universities offering educational psychology degrees, and find the one best suited to you.