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What Is an Educational Psychologist?

Educational Psychologists are scientists who study the learning process, including the social, emotional, and cognitive activities that comprise learning and understanding new concepts. These psychologists are interested in uncovering how people learn. They want to use their research to improve teaching methods and the instructional process.

Their specialty doesn’t mean they only work with children and teenagers though. Educational Psychologists study learning processes for all populations. Some may work exclusively with young students, but others study specific groups, like adult learners, or people with a learning disability such as dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Educational Psychologists may study how people learn best at school or work — they also examine how people function in social situations. Any situation that involves learning is of interest to this specialty.

What Is an Educational Psychologist Responsible For?

Within their role, Educational Psychologists focus on creating and maintaining the optimal learning environment, no matter what the task is. This space differs for both the type of person they’re working with and the setting they’re studying — for instance, a child with ADHD struggling in school compared to an adult trying to comprehend a new skill at work. Everyone has unique educational needs and preferences.

In their workplace, Educational Psychologists are often recruited to design curriculum. They must see what’s working and what’s not within a school system, business, or another organization so they can create the type of program that’s most needed for students.

These psychologists may also advise schools and other learning institutions with low test scores. In this situation, an Educational Psychologist will assess how the program is administering tests and the other factors that go into giving them and make suggestions on improvements.

Educational Psychologists can advise teachers on the best teaching methods for their subjects of expertise and also evaluate an organization’s educational technology needs.

On the job, a, Educational Psychologist can expect to:

  • Analyze tests, teachers, and educational materials to see what’s working and what’s not.
  • Research learning disabilities and stay current on the newest information about what people with these conditions need in education.
  • Collaborate with their Educational Psychology peers to create studies and analyze the results of their work.
  • Diagnose students with learning disabilities or other behavioral problems using interviews and psychological tests.

Where Does an Educational Psychologist Work?

Educational Psychologists are most commonly employed by a school system. This isn’t the only sector where they can find work though. Learning agencies, community centers, research institutions, and local, state, or federal government agencies also hire Educational Psychologists to improve their teaching initiatives.

What Other Career Options Are Available to an Educational Psychologist?

There is a plethora of great jobs you can get with a degree in Educational Psychology — the caveat is you’ll need at least a master’s degree for most of them. If you’re willing to put in the extra educational effort, you’ll be able to land a secure role with a reasonable salary.

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An Educational Psychologist can expect to find a career in the following areas:

  • School Psychologist: Similar to an Educational Psychologist, a School Psychologist is often found in a school district. It’s their job to work with children who may have learning-related challenges and help them succeed. School Psychologists test and diagnose students with disabilities, counsel teachers and parents about these kids’ needs, and create Independent Education Plans. They may work with preschool-age children to high school students.
  • College Counselor: College students need plenty of help as they plan their future careers. This is where a College Counselor comes in. They meet with students to discuss their job aspirations, help them pick the right major, and make sure they’re meeting their degree requirements, so they graduate on time.
  • College Professor: Being a College Professor means conducting research in your field, sharing those findings, and teaching classes. Professors may work with undergraduate or graduate students. They’re expected to have at least a master’s degree in their subject, but many universities will require a doctorate as well. It depends on where they’re employed.
  • Sociologist: Sociology is the study of human behavior and the society we’ve created. Sociologists focus on the social institutions, cultures, and processes that developed through human interaction and how these impact our species. Their work often reveals social issues. Teaching professionals and the government can use a Sociologist’s research to develop laws and other regulations.

What Degree Is Required to Become an Educational Psychologist? What Do They Study?

Being an Educational Psychologist means preparing yourself for plenty of schooling and extra work after graduation, especially if you want to pursue Educational Psychology itself.

The first step is getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a closely related field, like sociology. Depending on your college, you may be able to major in a specific psychological branch, but these programs are still relatively rare. Be prepared for subjects like developmental psychology and statistics.

After graduating with your bachelor’s, it’s time to get a higher education degree. You’ll need at least a master’s degree, but if you want the ability to diagnose learning disorders, you’ll have to earn a doctorate.

When your education is completed, you’ll need to complete more licensing requirements (including 1,000 hours of internships) and take the professional practice in psychology test. If you need a second chance to pass, you can retake the exam up to four times per year.

Once you have your degrees, a license, and aced your test, you’ll be ready to find an Educational Psychology job.

What Skills are Required in Educational Psychology? 

Much like other public-facing psychological fields, Educational Psychologists must be adept at verbal and written communication. They also need to be a strong statistician and detail oriented. Public speaking is another important skill since Educational Psychologists are often required to present to large groups of people.

How Much Money Does an Educational Psychologist Earn?

Their place of employment and years of experience heavily influence an Educational Psychologist’s salary. They can expect to earn between $70,000-$100,000 once they are established in their specialty.

Latest Educational Psychology Jobs Listings

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Position Company Location Posted
Senior Academic Support Specialist East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 09/24/2022
Job Description: The Senior Academic Support Specialist will advance unit, division, and institutional goals for learner success by: Developing, implementing, and evaluating proactive and early intervention support initiatives in the foundational science and clinical years of medical school. Serving as a consultative resource for team members, faculty/staff, and Academic Affairs units regarding complex learner support situations. Providing interventions that support academic, ... More
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Educational Studies (focus on critical studies) University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI, Michigan 09/23/2022
The School of Education at the University of Michigan seeks a colleague for a tenure-track assistant rank appointment in the Educational Studies program. We seek applications from a diverse pool of scholars with a strong focus on critical studies in education; specifically, we seek scholars whose academic research and public scholarship has focused on one or more areas: critical and social and cultural theories; race, gender, class, ability, and social inequities; systems of dominations ... More
Instructor - EPLC - Part-time (Fall FY23) Texas Tech University Lubbock, Texas 09/23/2022
Major/Essential FunctionsTeaches face-to-face/online and/or undergraduate or graduate courses in the Department of Educational Psychology Leadership & Counseling of the College of Education. Job assignment is dependent on the needs of the department.Position DescriptionContributes to the university's mission through teaching, research and service, some variation by academic unit.Required QualificationsAbility to teach effectively. ... More
Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology Purdue University - Department of Educational Studies West Lafayette, Indiana 09/22/2022
The Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University invites applications for a two-year Visiting Assistant Professor position in Educational Psychology to begin January 2023 at the West Lafayette campus. The ideal candidate will have scholarly and applied interests in educational psychology (or related field). More
Student Success Coordinator(s) Christopher Newport University Newport News, Virginia 09/21/2022
Working Title Student Success Coordinator(s) Position Number FA374 FLSA Exempt Appointment Type Full Time Sensitive Position ... More
Chair & Associate Professor or Professor Miami University Oxford, Ohio US 09/20/2022
Job Title: Chair & Associate Professor or Professor Job Summary: Chair and Associate or full Professor level who is committed to building a culture of excellence and collaboration through consultative decision-making. The Chair is expected to foster exemplary teaching, research, (including the pursuit of external funding), and creativity while promoting diversity, global awareness, and social responsibility ... More
Assistant Professor of Educational and School Psychology University of Southern Maine Gorham, Maine US 09/20/2022
Are you committed to preparing highly qualified school psychologists and behavior analysts to support academic, social, emotional, and behavioral success for the diverse school-aged population? If so, we invite you to apply to join our team. The Department of Educational and School Psychology at the University of Southern Maine (USM) is seeking a tenure-track Assistant Professor to join our collaborative graduate faculty in Fall 2023. ... More
Associate/Full Professor of Family and Community Influences on Education and Health, College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas 09/20/2022
Description The College of Education (COE) is seeking a faculty member at the Associate or Full Professor level with expertise in the design, development, delivery, and/or the rigorous evaluation (e.g., single case design, randomized controlled trials, qualitative research) of psychosocial and/or academic programs focused on linguistically and culturally diverse children, adolescents and their families, and the study of contextual factors that may influence the impact of such ... More
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