A school is a place where students turn into fully functioning adults. It takes a village to support children mentally, physically, and emotionally while they come into their own. Several people work within the education system to produce these upstanding citizens. However, two people play an indispensable role in students’ lives: the school counselor and the school psychologist. If you are looking to make a difference in students’ lives, you can choose either of these professions.


Both these positions are similar and different at the same time. They focus on the mental health of students and have matching strategies to address the issues. 

Often, counselors and psychologists work together to improve the performance of students.

However, that is where the similarities end. School psychologists and school counselors have different license requirements, degrees, and training. They also have different career paths and areas of focus.

So which one is the best fit for you? To answer this question, we must consider both the professions in detail.

School Psychologists:

School psychologists are in charge of assessing the students’ psychological well-being and introducing interventions if required.

  • What do they do?

At the first stage, they play the role of investigators. They monitor the progress of students to diagnose learning disabilities. They do that by either testing the students or consulting with teachers about their progress.  

There are several tests the psychologist can choose to diagnose different learning disabilities. These tests are intelligence tests, language tests, achievement tests, and visual-motor integration tests. 

In the second phase, psychologists introduce some strategies students can use to overcome their issues through intervention. 

Furthermore, they help students resolve any issues that prevent them from becoming the best versions of themselves. In some cases, students diagnosed with mild to severe psychological disorders might need individual care and attention to overcome their issues. Hence, psychologists develop personalized education programs to accommodate such children. 

  • What are the benefits?

School psychologists fare better than counselors in the school psychologist vs school counselor debate, to the extent of the pay scale. They may earn up to $75,090 per annum. That is a 27% increase compared to the average pay of counselors. Further, unlike other sectors, this sector will see a growth rate of 14%. So you can easily land a job if you choose this profession. Unlike school counselors, school psychologists do not just work in schools. They can work in health centers, hospitals, and clinics. So you will always have a backup option if you find out that a school is not the place for you.

  • What are the education requirements?

Most requirements vary according to the state. However, employers generally look for candidates with Master’s level degrees in Education or Psychology. School psychologists should be well acquainted with the principles of speech-language, pathology, teaching, and behavioral sciences. 

Now we shall consider the role, responsibilities, and benefits of the school counselor.

School Counselors:

School counselors have a general approach to things compared to psychologists. Instead of focusing on the problem of students, they are supposed to help the entire student population. Counselors work with students of any age between five-year-olds to eighteen-year-olds. 

  • What do they do?

Compared to psychologists, counselors have a diverse focus on things. They help students with everyday struggles and focus on their social, emotional needs, and mental conditions. However, specific responsibilities differ according to the grade levels. 

So, elementary school counselors focus on the development of foundational skills amongst young children. For instance, they guide children to hone their decision-making capabilities. They also promote good habits in children to polish their personality.

Contrastingly, secondary school counselors focus on the academic development of students. They work with the parents and school staff to create an environment conducive to learning. But that is not all they do. Adolescence is when children start to develop ideas about self-identity and belonging. Thus, they may begin to question their place within their peers. Middle school counselors lend an ear to students and offer emotional counseling. They play a significant role in the formation of the identity of the self.

Lastly, high school counselors help high schoolers make a seamless transition into the adult world. They closely work with students on their college application process. Students who opt against going to college can also discuss alternate routes with their counselors. 

Sometimes, high schoolers might be grappling with difficult personal problems. These concerns can be about relationships, mental health issues, or social issues. Counselors help struggling students wade through the choppy waters of bullying and personal relationships. 

  • What are the benefits?

School counselors get an average of $55,410 per annum. Counselors are limited to schools, and they have separate offices. This field will see some growth soon, with an expected increase of 13% in counselor jobs by 2026. 

  • What are the education requirements? 

Counselors must have a degree in school counseling, along with some knowledge of career development. Since counselors are responsible for the total school population, they must be management experts. 

Conclusion: Which is the right fit for you?

If you are passionate about changing pupils’ lives, you can choose either of these roles. The goals of both are the same, but they have different approaches to achieve them. Counselors focus on the social, emotional, and physical aspects, whereas psychologists focus on the psychological area. Both designations have distinct pros and cons, so consider each career in detail before choosing it. Go through the educational requirements and financial benefits to make an informed decision about your future.