When you’re sitting in front of your textbook, hours away from taking a big test, you probably want to know the best ways to learn. Does memorization help? Should you have started studying this information weeks ago? Why do you struggle taking tests when your best friend aces everything without even studying?
Understanding how we learn isn’t just important to educational psychologists - it’s important to teachers, principals, students, and anyone who wants to teach others new information. But educational psychologists are the people who study and share these concepts, day in and day out.
If education and psychology are both passions of yours, consider a career in educational psychology. You may find that there are more opportunities for you to indulge in these passions than you might think!
What does an Educational Psychologist Do?
Educational psychologists study the way that people learn and retain information in an effort to improve how information is taught. Their work takes place in and out of the classroom, in research facilities, and out in the community, using a blend of cognitive, behavioral, and social psychology.
The work that educational psychologists do may change the way that schools administer tests, teachers plan their lessons, or employers structure training sessions. Not all learning takes place inside a physical classroom, giving educational psychologists room to share their expertise with a variety of organizations.
In order to become an educational psychologist (also known as a school psychologist,) you have to get educated!
Psychologists who work as research assistants may only need an undergraduate degree in their field, but if you are looking to conduct your own research or be recognized as a practicing psychologist, you’ve got to get a doctorate degree. This puts you on a path toward state licensure, although the requirements to obtain this license are different in every state. Further licensure may be required based on the organization where you want to work.
Knowledge is power - understanding how knowledge is obtained and stored is power, too! It’s not uncommon for educational psychologists to earn six figures. This is a highly desired, but still niche field of psychology. A strong understanding of education and experience studying these topics can earn you six figures.
Educational Psychologist Reported Salary
Schools for Educational Psychology Degrees
Ready to learn? These are the top-rated schools for educational psychology degrees.
- Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
- The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
- University of Wisconsin - Madison (Madison, WI)
- Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
- Michigan State University (Lansing, MI)
- University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL)
- University of Maryland - College Park (College Park, MD)
- The University of Texas - Austin (Austin, TX)
- University of California - Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
- University of California - Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Companies That Hire Educational Psychologists
It’s pretty obvious that most educational psychologists work in schools, whether that is in grade school districts or colleges and universities. But learning doesn’t always take place in classrooms. Educational psychologists may serve as consultants for a variety of organizations that have goals to teach customers, employees, or the people that they work with and serve. Educational psychologists may also work with companies that work directly with schools. As an educational psychologist, you might find job opportunities with:
- Government agencies
- Private prisons
- Healthcare providers
- Learning centers and testing facilities
- Community-based education providers
- Research facilities
Interviews from an Educational Psychologist
Want to follow the typical day in the life of a school psychologist? Head to YouTube! In this video, Dr. Charles Barrett describes his typical day.
You can also hear plenty of educational psychologists speak on the research they have conducted and the topics they study by watching Ted Talks. Olympia Della Flora, for example, shares what she has learned about how kids can succeed in school through different practices and strategies.
Famous Educational Psychologists
The work of educational psychologists has made a direct impact on the tests you take, the way you study for tests, and the policies that community leaders make. Know these names as you go forward in pursuing a career in educational psychology:
Howard Gardner is known for his theory of multiple intelligences. Have you ever taken a test to see if you have more visual intelligence, musical intelligence, or kinesthetic intelligence? Thank Gardner and all of the educational psychologists who studied this topic before him.
Jean Piaget developed the Four Stages of Cognitive Development, giving teachers of young children a better understanding of where their students are at in their development and what teaching strategies will best resonate with them.
Robert M. Gagné created the Conditions of Learning, expanding the idea of what it means to “learn” and to “instruct.”
Nadine Lambert was a pioneer in educational psychology, focusing a lot of her research on the best ways to learn as a child with ADHD. Although she started her career teaching kindergarten, she went on to found the school psychology program at the University of California - Berkeley.
Maria Montessori is best known as the founder of the Montessori method. Montessori schools across the world take her specific approach to instruction. She was also Italy’s first female physician.
Educational Psychology Examples
As an educational psychologist, you too can shape the way that students learn, teachers teach, and communities grow together. In your career, you might:
- Conduct research on different learning methods
- Consult with testing facilities on questions, answers, and how to facilitate tests in a way that is fair to all students
- Teach college classes on concepts in educational psychology
- Develop a new method of teaching