Educational Psychology Careers

  • Developing School Programs
  • Working Directly With Students
  • Teaching the Teachers
  • Pure Reserarch
  • Strategies For the Future

If you're interested in the best ways students can learn, and have strong research and critical thinking skills–plus a way with people and a knack for numbers–a career in educational psychology may be for you. The path includes a bachelor's and a master's degree, and maybe a doctorate. You'll also likely need to complete an internship. But rewards are considerable: The market for educational psychologists is growing by 20 percent nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; salaries are a mean wage of $75,670 for those who work in elementary or secondary school, with more for those who work in research or are specialists.

Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Online Master's in Educational Psychology Degrees

Your career path in educational psychology could take several routes, including:

Developing School Programs

As an educational psychologist, you might work with struggling schools or struggling students, to find out what is not working and how to improve learning strategies. You would use research and theory to explore solutions, and work with administrators and teachers to put these into practice. You might also work with companies that produce textbooks, learning materials or online coursework.

Working Directly With Students

Many educational psychologists work with students and parents as school psychologists, at the elementary, secondary or college levels. School psychologists help students with academic, social or emotional problems; guide educational plans for gifted or learning disabled students; and counsel students as they plan for college or chart a future throughout and after college.

Teaching the Teachers

If you enjoy an academic setting, put it to work teaching future educators. Educational psychologists with doctorates can teach undergraduates or graduate students and conduct research on college campuses to forge the future and develop improved educational strategies.

Pure Research

Maybe you prefer delving into the hows and whys of educational psychology. Researchers study learning processes and how best to put those into practice. As an educational researcher, you might work for a company that produces educational products, for a government or school system, or for a social service agency. Educational psychologists might work for the U.S. Department of Education or the Department of Defense. They might work to develop regulations, help schools with issues like diversity and cultural differences, or evaluate tools and techniques for learning.

A related field, quantitative psychology, uses statistics to study psychological processes and analyzes data.

Strategies For the Future

Students considering a career in educational psychology can take a look at current research for hints about the field. The journal Educational Psychologist includes topics such as "Do Learners Really Know Best? Urban Legends in Education," which explores new media versus old teaching styles, whether people have specific "best" learning styles, and how much control the learner should have over his own experience. Other articles explore student resilience and motivation, and how emotion interacts with academic achievement.

Whether you see your future in public schools, in academia, in government or in the private sector, a career in educational psychology can help build future learners as it builds your own future in an ever-changing and challenging field.