Educational psychologists help children and young people who are having problems while in education. They also help teachers to understand psychological problems and to meet the special needs of their pupils.
Most educational psychologists are employed by local education authorities (LEAs).
Also known as
- Psychologist, Educational
Video: - Claire: Educational Psychologist
Educational psychologists encounter a wide range of issues. For example, some children have learning difficulties with reading and writing. Others have social and emotional problems that lead them to display challenging behaviour in the classroom, or make it difficult for them to make friends.
Some children may have a specific learning problem, like dyslexia. Very intelligent or 'gifted' children have their own needs and may have problems coping with teachers' and parents' expectations of them.
Educational psychologists usually begin a case by carrying out a full psychological assessment. This means looking at the young person's needs, both at school and at home. Psychologists can work either directly with a child or indirectly through their work with parents, teachers and other professionals.
In direct work, an assessment can involve observing young people's behaviour, or using interviews and test materials. From this assessment, the educational psychologist will make recommendations on the most appropriate educational programme for the child.
Recommendations may include counselling, family therapy sessions or planning special teaching techniques to improve the young person's learning and work on any behavioural problems they have.
In indirect work, educational psychologists contribute their views and findings in consultations with other professionals, including education officers, social workers, medical consultants and health visitors.
Educational psychologists also train teachers in different techniques to help pupils with learning difficulties and/or behavioural problems. They help schools to think about and put into practice policies on special needs.
Educational psychologists may organise courses and workshops for parents, teachers or other professionals. These could provide training on issues such as stress management, bullying, specific learning difficulties and behaviour management.
Some educational psychologists are involved in research, helping to create effective education policies. For example, they may assess how effective a school's policy on bullying has been.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As an educational psychologist, you need:
- An investigative mind.
- A strong interest in the way young people think and act.
- A logical and methodical approach to problem solving.
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
- A calm, professional approach at all times.
- The ability to express your findings, including in reports.
- Teamworking skills, to work with other professionals.
- Strict respect for your clients' confidentiality.
- The psychological knowledge to understand behaviour in a scientific way.
You should also be:
- A good listener.
- Logical and systematic.
- Patient, non-judgemental and objective.
- Able to build a trusting, constructive relationship with clients.
- Committed to helping people transform their lives in a positive way.
- Resilient and able to avoid becoming burdened by the difficulties you encounter.
Pay and Opportunities
Earnings for educational psychologists vary depending on their area of specialisation and whether they are employed or in private practice.
The pay rates given below are approximate.
Educational psychologists earn in the range £21,500 - £27,500, rising to £37,000 - £51,000 with experience. Senior positions can attract a salary in advance of £60,000.
Hours of work
Educational psychologists usually work a basic 37-hour week. Some evening and weekend work may be required. Part-time opportunities are also available.
It can be difficult to secure a place on a postgraduate training course, due to high demand.
Where could I work?
Opportunities for educational psychologists occur throughout the UK.
Most chartered educational psychologists work in the local education authority system. Others work with adults, in staff training, or in university teaching and research.
Opportunities occur for a small number of psychologists to work in private practice.
Where are vacancies advertised?Vacancies are advertised in the following places:
- Local/national newspapers.
- Jobcentre Plus.
- The Universal Jobmatch website.
- The British Psychological Society's Psychologist Appointments website.
- Job boards, such as Jobs.ac.uk.
Entry Routes and Training
To become a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) regulated educational psychologist, you need to follow a British Psychological Society (BPS) training route.
The BPS's Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) is the first step. You can obtain the GBC by completing a BPS-accredited degree in psychology.
If your psychology degree is not accredited or your degree is in a subject other than psychology, you can obtain the GBC by taking an accredited postgraduate conversion course.
It is usual for potential psychologists to spend at least a year gaining relevant work experience, often as an assistant or research psychologist, before being accepted onto a postgraduate course.
After gaining the GBC, you need to complete a three-year accredited postgraduate training course, the Doctorate in Educational Psychology. This course is available at a number of universities throughout the UK.
With experience, psychologists can progress to supervisory and management positions.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Chartered psychologist posts are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
For entry to an accredited degree course in psychology, the usual requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs (A to C) in 2/3 other subjects
- English, Maths and science GCSE subjects are usually preferred, and a science subject at A level is sometimes required.
Psychology at A level is not a requirement.
Other qualifications, such as an Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualification or the International Baccalaureate Diploma could also be considered. Entry requirements for degree courses vary; check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Psychology) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.
There are accredited conversion courses open to graduates with degrees in subjects other than psychology (and those with non-accredited psychology degrees). You can find out more by looking on the British Psychological Society's (BPS) website.
Part-time degree study is available from a number of universities. However, most part-time degrees are not accredited by the BPS.
Distance or open learning is available from the Open University, which offers a BSc degree in Psychology. This qualification is accredited by the BPS.
Sponsorship by local education authorities is sometimes possible for places on the postgraduate courses in educational psychology. You will usually be paid by your employer in the second and third years of the course.
The BPS website has a searchable database of funding opportunities. These range from studentships to research grants.
- 22% of psychologists are self-employed.
- 33% work part-time.
- 14% have flexible hours.
- 9% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Local government vacancies
myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU
Tel: 0845 3006184
British Psychological Society (BPS)
Address: St Andrews House, 48 Princess Road East, Leicester LE1 7DR
Tel: 0116 2549568
Getting into Psychology Courses
Author: Maya Waterstone Publisher: Trotman
British Psychological Society
Publisher: British Psychological Society (BPS)
Tel: 01223 378 051
Institute of Psychoanalysis
Address: Byron House, 112A Shirland Road, London W9 2EQ
Tel: 020 7563 5000
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP)
Address: 4 The Riverside Centre, Frankland Lane, Durham DH1 5TA
Tel: 0191 3849512