Requirements to Become a School Psychologist in North Carolina [2024 Guide]

School Psychology and North Carolina (NC)

In the vibrant state of North Carolina, the need for qualified school psychologists is ever-present as schools strive to support the academic, social, and emotional well-being of their students.

Boasting a diverse population and a deep commitment to education, North Carolina offers an excellent backdrop for individuals looking to positively impact children’s and adolescents’ lives. As a school psychologist in North Carolina, your contributions will be instrumental in creating a supportive educational environment and empowering students to realize their full potential.

This article will walk you through the process of becoming a school psychologist in North Carolina, covering essential aspects such as educational prerequisites, licensure procedures, and valuable resources to help you navigate this gratifying career journey.

What are the Requirements to Become a Licensed School Psychologist in North Carolina?

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

  1. Complete your bachelor’s degree
  2. Acquire an advanced degree in school psychology
  3. Complete supervised internship requirement
  4. Pass the Praxis School Psychologist exam (5402)
  5. Submit your application

Professional Educator’s License

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction, to pursue a career as a school psychologist in North Carolina, applicants must fulfill the following essential requirements:

  • Acquire an advanced degree in school psychology, typically either a specialist-level degree (e.g., Ed.S.) or a doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D. or Psy.D.). This degree should be approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) or the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • The school psychology program should encompass a minimum of 60 graduate semester hours, inclusive of a supervised internship.
  • For those at the specialist level, internships should consist of at least 1,200 hours, while doctoral candidates must complete no less than 1,500 hours.
  • A minimum of 600 hours of the internship experience must occur within a school setting to ensure that prospective school psychologists acquire practical experience.
  • Obtain a passing score of 147 or higher on the Praxis School Psychologist exam (5402). This standardized test evaluates candidates’ expertise across various aspects of school psychology, confirming that licensed professionals have the required skills to effectively support students, educators, and parents in the educational community.

Provisional License

Provisional licenses in North Carolina are granted exclusively upon the request of the employing school district. To be eligible for a provisional license, the candidate must be assigned to a job in the corresponding license area (i.e. school psychology in this case).

The specific eligibility requirements for obtaining a provisional license are as follows:

  • The candidate must have completed all program requirements at the advanced level, with the exception of the thesis or internship. This ensures that the individual has acquired sufficient theoretical knowledge and has demonstrated the necessary competencies in the field of school psychology prior to obtaining practical experience.
  • The candidate must provide written confirmation from the college or university where they are enrolled, agreeing with their employment in the designated school district. This confirmation serves as an endorsement from the educational institution, signifying that the candidate is prepared to engage in practical work as a school psychologist under provisional licensing.

By fulfilling these requirements, candidates can obtain a provisional license, allowing them to work in a school setting while completing the remaining requirements for full licensure as a school psychologist.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

The renewal of a school psychologist license in North Carolina takes place every five years, necessitating the accumulation of 8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), which equates to 80 hours of continuing professional development.

School psychologists are required to complete 3 CEUs in their Professional Discipline, 2 CEUs in Digital Learning, and 3 General CEUs in order to maintain their license and stay current with best practices in their field.

Activities accepted for renewal CEUs are: College or university courses, local in-service courses or workshops, and classes and workshops approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education.

North Carolina Lifetime License

The NC State Board of Education is responsible for granting a lifetime license, which necessitates no further renewal, to a presently licensed professional educator who has fulfilled at least one of the conditions mentioned below:

  • Accumulated a minimum of 30 years of creditable service in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System.
  • Accomplished an aggregate of 30 years or more of employment as a licensed teacher, administrator, or student services personnel across one or more public school districts in North Carolina.

By meeting either of these criteria, a professional educator becomes eligible for a lifetime license, exempting them from future renewal requirements.

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

The path to becoming a school psychologist in North Carolina varies in length, depending on factors such as the individual’s prior education, their chosen degree program, and the specific requirements of that program. Generally, the process involves the following stages:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (4 years): A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as psychology or education, typically serves as the initial step in pursuing a career in school psychology.
  • Advanced Degree (2-4 years): Prospective school psychologists must earn an advanced degree, either a specialist-level degree (Ed.S.) or a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). The duration of a specialist-level program is usually 2-3 years, while a doctoral program can take 4-6 years.
  • Internship (1 year): A supervised internship is a crucial component of the degree program. Specialist-level candidates must complete a minimum of 1,200 hours, while doctoral-level candidates require at least 1,500 hours. This internship generally lasts for one academic year.
  • Licensing: After fulfilling educational and internship requirements, candidates need to pass the Praxis School Psychologist exam, achieving a qualifying score of at least 147.

Taking these steps into account, the process of becoming a school psychologist in North Carolina typically spans 7 to 10 years. However, the actual time frame can vary based on an individual’s specific degree path and any further licensing requirements.

Can I Become a School Psychologist in North Carolina With a Bachelor’s Degree?

While a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, or a related field is an essential starting point for a career in school psychology, it is not enough to become a school psychologist in North Carolina. To practice as a licensed school psychologist in North Carolina, you need to obtain an advanced degree, such as a specialist-level Ed.S. degree or a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in school psychology.

What is the Role of School Psychologists in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, school psychologists hold an important position within the educational community, concentrating on students’ academic, emotional, and mental health needs. Their primary duties include:

  • Conducting psychological and academic evaluations to determine students’ educational requirements, cognitive skills, and emotional status.
  • Collaborating with teachers, parents, and other experts to develop and apply tailored education plans and interventions for students facing learning obstacles, behavioral issues, or other specific needs.
  • Providing direct counseling and support to students grappling with social, emotional, or mental health concerns.
  • Implementing school-wide initiatives that encourage positive conduct, social-emotional growth, and mental health recognition.
  • Contributing to crisis prevention and intervention efforts, addressing situations such as harassment, emotional distress, or self-harm.
  • Consulting with educators, administrators, and parents to enhance their understanding and responsiveness to students’ diverse educational needs and emotional health.
  • Partnering with community service providers and guiding families to suitable resources when necessary.
  • Engaging in continuous professional development, staying informed about current research, and perpetually refining their practice.

Ultimately, North Carolina school psychologists work closely with educators, students, and families to create a supportive and inclusive academic environment that promotes both scholastic achievement and emotional well-being for every student.

How Much Does a School Psychologist Make in North Carolina?

As of June 2023, the average annual salary for licensed school psychologists in North Carolina is $102,524, with more experienced school psychologists earning over $130,000 per year.

Are School Psychologists in High Demand in North Carolina?

The demand for school psychologists in North Carolina is on the rise, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting a 6.5% job growth rate for school psychologists in North Carolina from 2022 to 2032. This increase is higher than the average for other occupations, highlighting the importance of school psychologists.

In response to the growing awareness of the critical role of mental health in student success, schools are investing in mental health support services and hiring school psychologists to identify and address the psychological needs of their students. Early intervention is also crucial, and school psychologists play an essential role in early identification and intervention.

As inclusive education and specialized support services for students with disabilities become more prevalent, the demand for school psychologists has grown even further. They play a crucial role in developing and implementing individualized education programs (IEPs) for students with diverse learning needs, as well as preventing and responding to crises such as bullying, violence, and self-harm.

Collaboration with other professionals, such as teachers, counselors, and administrators, is also an essential aspect of supporting students. As schools recognize the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to promoting student success, the demand for school psychologists who can collaborate with other professionals continues to grow.

While the demand for school psychologists may vary depending on specific regions and school districts within North Carolina, the overall trend indicates a consistent need for qualified professionals. With society’s increasing focus on mental health, early intervention, and inclusive education, the demand for school psychologists in North Carolina is expected to remain strong over the coming years.

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