Requirements to Become a School Psychologist in Illinois [2023 Certification Guide]

Study School Psychology in Illinois

As the sixth most populated state in the country, Illinois also has one of the largest populations of school-aged children. With so many children in schools across the state, going into an education-related career like school psychology makes sense.

Whether you got your school psychology degree in Illinois or another state, there are pathways for you to obtain the appropriate license, including short-term and long-term licenses that enable you to work with students in pre-K and K-12 settings and with students up to 22 years of age.

Below are details regarding how to get a school psychology certification in Illinois, as well as details about the scope of practice of school psychologists, where you can work as a school psychologist, and employment predictions for this field.

What are the Requirements to Become a School Psychologist in Illinois?

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

  • Obtain your bachelor’s degree
  • Obtain an approved school psychology or educational psychology program
  • Complete 250-hour supervised field experience
  • Complete practicum and internship requirements
  • Pass the school psychology licensure test (for out-of-state programs)
  • Submit your application

Illinois offers two pathways to becoming a school psychologist: a Professional Educator License and a Provisional School Service Personnel Certificate. Both options are detailed below.

Professional Educator License

A Professional Educator License in Illinois requires that you have a graduate degree in psychology with a specialization in school psychology. A degree in educational psychology with a specialization in school psychology is also accepted.

Furthermore, the school psychology program you complete must include a 250-hour supervised field experience during which you work directly with students in a school or student center setting. There must also be a one-year, full-time internship experience.

You can meet these requirements in a variety of ways.

National Certification

If you hold a valid credential as a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), you qualify for an Illinois Professional Educator License without fulfilling any other requirements. You need only fill out this form to verify your status as an NCSP.

Reciprocity

You might be eligible for a Professional Educator License in Illinois if you completed an approved school psychology program in another state and were licensed as a school psychologist in another state.

To determine your eligibility, you must submit a copy of your valid school psychologist license and a copy of your graduate degree (or higher). Your degree must be from a regionally-accredited college or university.

Completion of an Illinois Educator Preparation Program

Approved school psychology or educational psychology programs in Illinois may qualify you for licensure, provided you complete the practicum and internship requirements discussed earlier.

Completion of Out-of-State Program

If you completed an approved out-of-state school psychology program but still need to obtain a license, you may still meet Illinois’s licensure requirements.

You must have at least a graduate degree from a regionally-accredited college or university and present proof that you completed a state-approved school psychology program. Additionally, you must have completed an internship or comparable experiences as part of your program of study.

Your degree program must also include coursework in the following areas: teaching English learners, teaching exceptional children, content area reading, and reading methods. You must pass the school psychology licensure test #237 as well.

Provisional School Service Personnel Certificate

If you are an out-of-state applicant for an Illinois school psychology license, you may qualify for a Provisional School Service Personnel Certificate while you complete all the requirements for a Professional Educator License.

To qualify for the certificate, you must already have a comparable endorsement in another state. Once the certificate is granted, you have two full fiscal years to complete the requirements for the Professional Educator License.

What are the Continuing Education (CE) and License Renewal Requirements in Illinois?

The Professional Educator License is good for five years. During that time, you must complete 120 hours of continuing professional development. Professional development workshops must be through an approved Illinois provider. Your Illinois Educator Information Number (IEIN) must be on the attendance list of the workshop for it to count towards continuing education.

School psychologists with an NCSP credential already satisfy the requirements for licensure renewal after the initial license is held for five years.

What is the School Psychologist Scope of Practice in Illinois?

Primarily, school psychologists in Illinois focus on the academic, social, and emotional development of pre-K and K-12 students in a school setting. School psychologists’ activities in these settings range widely from providing mental health services to students to developing crisis intervention programs to engaging families in the educational process.

For example, school psychologists must understand the dynamics of various family systems and demonstrate competence in encouraging families to be involved in their child’s education.

As another example, school psychologists must demonstrate an understanding of school systems and organizational development and work within those systems to deliver programs and services that enhance each student’s learning ability.

This might include consulting with classroom teachers on developmentally-appropriate curriculum activities. It might also involve working with administrators, curriculum and instruction experts, and other stakeholders to devise academic programs for learners of varying ability levels.

It also falls on school psychologists to foster a welcoming school atmosphere for all students and families. For example, a school psychologist might develop a school-wide diversity program that helps children understand and celebrate the differences among them.

These are just a few examples of what school psychologists might do in Illinois schools. The truth of the matter is that the scope of practice is extraordinarily diverse, and the tasks you’re assigned will likely vary quite a bit from one school to the next.

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

The time it takes to become a school psychologist depends mostly on how quickly you complete your master’s degree and fulfill the other licensure requirements.

For example, if you attend school full-time, you can complete your undergraduate degree in about four years and your graduate school psychology degree in Illinois in about three years. This being the case, you will need about seven years to tick all the boxes for a school psychologist license in Illinois.

However, if you attend school part-time, work in another state as a school psychologist, or need to complete some licensure requirements upon moving to Illinois, that timeline could be extended. For example, as discussed earlier, if you get a provisional certificate, you have two years to meet the requirements for licensure. This means you’ll need at least nine total years to get your license.

Where Do Certified School Psychologists Work in Illinois?

School psychologists are licensed to work with students from pre-K to 22 years of age. By and large, school psychologists in Illinois work in public K-12 settings, but it’s also possible to work in charter schools, private schools, and post-secondary schools as well. Working in these settings can either be on a contract basis or as a direct employee of the school or district.

Moreover, some school psychologists in Illinois can provide clinical services to clients in a non-school setting. To qualify, you must be a credentialed school psychologist with at least three years of full-time experience in the field. You must also be 21 years of age or older and practice with a licensed clinical psychologist who supervises you.

School psychologists can also practice independently outside of the school system, provided they have a valid psychologist license from the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation.

Do You Need a Doctorate to be a School Psychologist in Illinois?

No. The minimum educational requirement to be a school psychologist in Illinois is a master’s degree in psychology or educational psychology with a specialization in school psychology.

Are School Psychologists in High Demand in Illinois?

Demand for school psychologists in Illinois is higher than in most other states. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Illinois ranks fourth in the nation for the employment level of school psychologists. Illinois also ranks fifth in the nation for the highest concentration of jobs for school psychologists.

Furthermore, the greater Chicago area ranks second in the nation among metropolitan areas for the highest employment level of school psychologists. This makes sense, given that Chicago has one of the largest public school systems in the nation.

However, it isn’t just Chicago where school psychologists are in demand. Small and mid-size cities throughout the state have a demonstrated need for qualified school psychologists, as evidenced by the state’s high rankings for employment level and concentration of jobs in this field.

If you want to pursue a career in school psychology, Illinois offers many opportunities in districts of all sizes. And, as discussed earlier, there are many pathways the state offers for you to satisfy the necessary licensure requirements. With the ability to work outside of the school as well, you can address the needs of students in many different settings.

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