Requirements to Become a School Psychologist in Georgia [2024 Certification Guide]

Study School Psychology in Georgia

School psychologists are needed at all levels of education in Georgia. While population growth has slowed across the United States, Georgia still ranks 11th in terms of population increase in recent years. With more people, there are usually more school-aged children. And the more children there are in schools, the more school psychologists are needed.

The question is, how does one become a school psychologist in Georgia?

Like many other states, Georgia offers a number of different pathways that qualify you for certification or licensure. Below is a description of these pathways and other important information to consider as you plan a career as a school psychologist in the Peach State.

What are the Requirements to Become a Certified School Psychologist in Georgia?

Below is a quick breakdown of requirements to become a licensed school psychologist in Georgia:

  1. Obtain a specialist level degree in school psychology
  2. Pass the GACE content knowledge assessment
  3. Meet the Standards of Conduct
  4. Clear background checks (fingerprint)
  5. Pay the application fee
  6. Apply for certification

Georgia offers two types of certificates for school psychologists. However, there are multiple means by which you can earn both certificates. Below are summaries of these pathways.

Professional Certificate

You must follow one of three tracks to obtain a professional certificate in school psychology.

No matter which pathway you select, you must also pass a state-level content knowledge test, GACE, and meet the Standards of Conduct as outlined by the state.

Furthermore, you must complete an application for certification. Doing so requires that you submit various documents to support your application. These might include:

Personal Affirmation Questions

This questionnaire explores a series of events that might disqualify you from certification. Answering “yes” to any personal affirmation question requires you to submit an attached explanation. Furthermore, any “yes” answers will be investigated by an ethics committee.

Verification of Lawful Presence

You must submit documentation and a notarized affidavit that you are a U.S. citizen or that you are in the country legally.

Official Transcripts

Official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended must be provided.

Approved Program Completion

A program completion is needed to verify that you’ve successfully finished your school psychology program.

Other documentation might be required. For example, you might need to provide supporting documentation of your graduate program if you attended school outside Georgia.

Non-Renewable Professional Certificate

The second type of school psychology certificate in Georgia is a non-renewable professional certificate. This option is reserved for school psychologists in training who have completed all aspects of an approved school psychology program other than the summative assessment (e.g., internship, dissertation, or thesis). This is a three-year certificate.

Likewise, this type of certificate can be issued to a school psychologist who has completed an approved program at the graduate level (Level 5). Again, this is a three-year certificate.

Another means by which you can get this certificate is if you hold an expired renewable certificate but have not yet met the requirements for renewal, as outlined in the next section. This type of certificate is for a one-year term.

Continuing Education (CE) and Certification Renewal Requirements in Georgia

Renewing a current professional certificate in school psychology requires that you submit a valid Georgia school psychologist license or provide a valid National Certified School Psychologist credential.

Likewise, you can renew your license if you complete the steps for license renewal. This is a very detailed process that you can complete over the course of the five-year professional license. Some of the activities required for renewal are outlined below.

Participate in a Professional Learning Community

You must provide evidence (e.g., verification from a supervisor) that you’ve participated in professional learning community activities at the school or district level.

Complete Continuing Education Requirements

If you are not currently employed as a school psychologist in a Georgia school at the time you request a renewal, you must complete ten (10) continuing education credits through the Georgia Association of School Psychologists, ten professional learning units from a Georgia education agency, or six credits of college coursework.

You can also complete 100 hours of Bright from the Start (BFTS) approved training. Credits only count toward renewal if they have been earned within five years of the renewal application.

Criminal Record Check

All applicants must submit to a criminal record check.

What is the School Psychologist Scope of Practice in Georgia?

As a school psychologist in Georgia, you can provide a range of services as part of your practice.

For example, you can provide learning assistance, behavior modification, and mental health counseling services in a school setting. Likewise, you are able to provide academic, social, and emotional support for students.

A good example of this is conducting cognitive-behavioral therapy with a student who is experiencing anxiety. You might meet with the student individually or as part of a group counseling session with other kids that have anxiety.

The goal is to help the children identify their negative thought processes and replace those negative thoughts with positive, healthy, future-building cognitive patterns.

Another example of the scope of practice is to support students in emotional distress. Students might experience the death of a loved one and struggle to cope with the associated emotions. Individual counseling with the student is a good way to help them process their feelings and begin healing.

Of course, school psychologists in Georgia also provide academic services like intelligence tests, learning assessments, and the like, which can help identify students with learning disabilities. Once a student is identified, you can help chart a course for providing specific academic support to help the student succeed.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Certified School Psychologist in Georgia?

A Level 5 graduate degree is required for basic certification in the state of Georgia. After completing a four-year baccalaureate program, you will need to complete a school psychology graduate program, which is often about three years. This means you will need about seven years to complete the educational requirements before you can apply for licensure.

Where Do School Psychologists Work in Georgia?

School psychologists in Georgia are allowed to work in pre-K through 12th-grade settings. The basic school psychology credential does not qualify school psychologists to work outside of schools.

If you wish to practice independently of a school system, you must apply for a psychologist license through the Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.

Do You Need a Doctorate to be a Certified School Psychologist in Georgia?

No. As explained earlier, the minimum required education to be a school psychologist is a Level 5 master’s degree. But, a doctorate can be helpful in providing a higher level of service to students. It can also help you earn more money and be more competitive for positions in schools throughout Georgia.

Are School Psychologists in High Demand in Georgia?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in all fields of psychology are expected to grow at a six percent rate through the beginning of the next decade. This represents average growth, with a little more than 11,000 new jobs created in that timeframe.

More specifically, school psychology jobs in Georgia are expected to grow by 20% between 2021 and 2031.

When assessing the demand for school psychologists in Georgia, we have to revisit the statistics presented in the introduction. Georgia is near the top ten fastest-growing states in the nation. That growth might fuel greater growth in pre-K through 12th-grade schools, which necessitates expanded faculty and staff to meet student needs. This includes hiring additional school psychologists.

The need for additional psychologists depends on many factors, though. Suburban school districts are most likely to experience the largest growth, so demand for school psychologists in Atlanta’s suburbs might be very high.

Conversely, the growth of rural schools tends to be much slower – and might even be negative growth – which reduces the need for school psychologists and other personnel.

Of course, the best way to ensure your particular services are in demand is to get the appropriate education and experience, commit yourself to learning and growing as a school psychologist, and providing superb services to students and other stakeholders. The better you do your job, the higher demand there will be for your unique skill set.

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