How to Become an Educational Psychologist in 8 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 19, 2022

Published November 24, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The field of psychology includes a variety of career opportunities where professionals can help children during the critical stages of cognitive development. Educational psychologists work with educators, students, parents, and colleagues to ensure that children reach their full potential, regardless of any learning disabilities. If you're considering a career as an educational psychologist, it's beneficial to learn more about this position and the steps you can take to become one. In this article, we explain how to become an educational psychologist, discuss what an educational psychologist is, describe what they do, review their salary, and look at their work environment.

How to become an educational psychologist

By reviewing these steps, you can assess the professional path of this career. Becoming an educational psychologist takes years of hard work and education. Your career path may look different from another aspiring educational psychologist who's living in a different province, so it's always best to check with your province regarding requirements and licences. Here are eight steps you can follow:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree in psychology

The first step to becoming an educational psychologist is completing a four-year bachelor's degree in psychology. Most universities' psychology programs offer a solid foundation, covering many areas within the subject. Learning about general psychology can help prepare you for continuing your education. Some courses you may take while working toward a bachelor's degree include:

  • foundations of psychology

  • general psychology

  • history of psychology

  • social psychology

  • statistics

  • abnormal psychology

  • cognitive psychology

  • experimental psychology

  • personality psychology

After completing your bachelor's degree, evaluate your prospects of entering a master's program of your choice. Although all institutions have unique acceptance criteria, common requirements may include:

  • an undergraduate degree in psychology

  • a 3.5 or higher Grade Point Average (GPA)

  • a high score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

  • a reference letter from a professor in the psychology department

Related: 17 Psychology Careers to Consider With Your Degree

2. Complete an internship

While you're completing your undergraduate program, aim to acquire an internship in the field. Getting an internship can provide you with valuable work experience and make you a more desirable candidate when you apply for a master's degree program. Some psychology-related internships you can consider include:

  • child developmental intern

  • clinical research intern

  • community clinic intern

  • correctional facility psychology intern

  • forensic science intern

  • research assistant

  • school psychologist intern

  • social work Intern

  • sports psychology Intern

Related: Finding Internships and Internship Alternatives During COVID-19

3. Earn a master's degree in educational psychology

Next, earn a master's degree in educational psychology, which typically takes two to three years to complete. It's common for these master's programs to require students to complete and defend an advanced research project. Some courses you may take include:

  • behavioural neuroscience

  • cognitive psychology

  • individual differences and abnormal psychology

  • lifespan development

  • research methods

  • social psychology

Depending on the province where you live, you may have employment opportunities with a master's degree and licensure. For example, you can become a chartered psychologist with a master's degree if you live in these provinces:

  • Alberta

  • New Brunswick

  • Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Northwest Territories

  • Quebec

4. Consider earning a doctorate in educational psychology

Once you've earned your master's degree, you can consider earning a doctorate degree in educational psychology, which often takes four to six years. Although not all provinces require you to earn a doctorate degree, some provinces do, which include:

  • British Columbia

  • Manitoba

  • Nova Scotia

  • Ontario

  • Prince Edward Island

  • Saskatchewan

Regardless of where you live, pursuing a doctorate degree can help you attain leadership positions, a higher salary, and additional career opportunities, such as teaching at universities and diagnosing learning disabilities.

5. Gain experience in the field

To become licensed in most provinces, you need to have experience working in the field. The exact number of hours varies by province, but you can typically complete the hours within one or two years. Many aspiring educational psychologists gain this experience through internships during their master's or doctorate degree programs. If you work with a licensed educational psychologist, it can be an ideal opportunity to learn from them and refine your skills. Some skills that are beneficial to educational psychologists include:

  • attention to detail

  • empathy

  • interpersonal communication

  • psychological assessment

  • public speaking

  • statistics

  • written communication

6. Pass the professional practice in psychology examination

Before becoming a licensed educational psychologist, most provinces require you to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The EPPP is a standardized test that comprises 225 questions, with each question having four choices. Out of the 225 questions, the testing committee scores 175 questions and don't score the other 50. Those taking the exam have four hours and 15 minutes to finish, and their results are available immediately. If you fail the exam, you can retake it, typically up to four times in one year. The EPPP includes the following eight content domains:

  • assessment and diagnosis

  • biological bases of behaviour

  • cognitive-affective bases of behaviour

  • ethical, legal, or professional issues

  • growth and lifespan development

  • research methods and statistics

  • social and cultural bases of behaviour

  • treatment, intervention, prevention, and supervision

7. Become licensed

The next step is becoming licensed to practise educational psychology. Requirements for licensure vary by province, but some common requirements include:

  • earning a master's or doctoral degree

  • having sufficient supervised experience hours

  • passing written and oral exams covering practice and ethical issues

You can find the precise requirements for each province on the Canadian Psychological Association website.

8. Apply for jobs in your province

After you've obtained a licence, you can apply for jobs in your province. Ensure that you update your resume to include all relevant work experience and details about your education. After you apply, prospective employers may invite you to an interview to ensure you're the right candidate for the job. Prepare for the interview by researching questions an employer might ask and consider your answers. Consider performing a simulated interview with a friend or family member, as this can help you feel more comfortable and confident during your formal interview. Consider looking for work at the following institutions:

  • community centres

  • learning agencies

  • local or provincial government agencies

  • research facilities

  • school districts

Related:

  • Psychologist Interview Questions and Answers

  • How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Psychologist?

  • What Does a School Psychologist Do? (And How to Become One)

What is an educational psychologist?

An educational psychologist is an expert in psychology who builds effective teaching methods for developing individuals with specific learning needs. Educational psychologists often work at colleges or universities, where they teach courses in educational psychology or special education. School districts hire educational psychologists to improve teaching methods and make their schools more inclusive for students with learning disabilities. They have a thorough understanding of different learning habits, which helps them optimize the learning experience for all students.

Related: How to Become a Child Psychologist (With Common Skills)

What does an educational psychologist do?

The primary goal of an educational psychologist is to ensure that teacher–student relationships are as positive as they can be so students can learn to the best of their potential. They achieve this goal by researching how the classroom experience, family, and cultural factors affect learning and development. Educational psychologists can also assess typical and atypical development, how educational interventions affect students' learning and development, and children's support needs. Usually, they apply psychological theories regarding behaviour, learning processes, and language development.

These professionals work with other educational psychologists to oversee research studies. They can review course material, exams, and teaching methods to determine how they affect a child's learning. They can also advise educators about communicating students' particular learning needs to their parents. These psychologists advise educators about how to get parents involved in their child's learning process. And they can also educate teachers so they can identify early signs of learning disabilities in their students.

Salary

Educational psychologists' salaries may vary based on experience and location. As you gain experience in the field, you may be able to negotiate a higher salary. According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a psychologist is $64.10 per hour. The salary of an educational psychologist may be similar to this figure.

Related: How Much Do Psychologists Make in Canada? (With Primary Duties)

Work environment

Educational psychologists often work directly with children, assessing their progress and providing counselling, usually in schools. They can also work indirectly with children by working with a child's parents or teachers. Typically, they help local authorities with educational policy planning. These specialists can also work with students while they're at school. They may work regular working hours from Monday to Friday. Much of their activity is research-based, which they can typically perform from anywhere as long as they have access to the Internet.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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