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School Psychologist Certification in Alabama: Become a School Psychologist in AL

The Alabama State Department of Education certifies school psychologists. Candidates may apply for certification as school psychologists in Alabama through the traditional pathway or the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) pathway. Either will require a graduate degree. Candidates will also need to complete an internship, pass an examination, and clear a criminal background check.

Select an Alabama School Psychologist topic below...

Education and Internship: Traditional Pathway

Alabama classifies education certificates by years of post-secondary education (http://www.alsde.edu/sec/tc/pages/home.aspx). An 'AA' school psychology certificate requires two years of graduate level education. A candidate applying through the traditional pathway will complete an approved psychometry master's program of at least 30 semester hours and then an approved educational specialist degree of at least 30 semester hours. Alabama expects a minimum 3.25 in the school psychology program.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is offering several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including Educational Psychology, Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Capella University, is also offering three online CACREP - accredited master's programs: School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. Click here to request information about the Capella University programs.

New York University Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology offers a Master of Arts in School Counseling (Counseling and Guidance: School and Bilingual School Counseling). The program is accredited by the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC). Click Here to contact NYU Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology about this program.

The internship is to be at least 300 hours; it is to be supervised by a professional who is certified in Alabama.

Alabama's State-approved school psychology programs are designed to build on prior education and experience in the education field. School psychology students should be prepared to meet entrance requirements set by the state. A criminal background check will be required very early in the program. Beginning August 1, 2012, students are prohibited from taking more than five courses before full acceptance into the program.

Candidates who have completed psychometry or psychology master's programs in other states but do not qualify for the AA license may be accepted into AA programs.

Education and Internship: NCSP Pathway

Alabama will accept the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential as an alternate route to certification (http://www.alsde.edu/sec/tc/Alabama%20Administrative%20Code/290-3-2-.21%20Nationally%20Certified%20School%20Psychologist%20Approach.pdf).

The credential is issued by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). A graduate degree of at least 60 semester hours is required (http://www.nasponline.org/certification/becomeNCSP.aspx). It is not necessary to graduate from a NASP-approved school psychology program to achieve NCSP certification. However, those that don't will need to submit more documentation; a portfolio will be required.

Candidates applying for NCSP certification must meet NASP professional standards and ethics requirements.

1,200 semester hours of internship is required for the NCSP credential; at least 600 of the hours must be accrued in a school environment.

Examination

The Praxis II subject area test is a requirement for Alabama certification. Requirements are described in Rule 290-3-3-.53(6). Questions about Alabama testing may be addressed to the Teacher Testing Section of the Office of Teaching and Leading; the office may be reached by phone at (334) 242-9983.

Candidates will register for the Praxis through Educational Testing Service (ETS). Testing centers and dates are available on the ETS site (http://www.ets.org/praxis/register/centers_dates/). A candidate handbook is also available for download (http://www.ets.org/s/praxis/pdf/0401.pdf).

If one is applying through the NCSP pathway, the examination will be taken before certification as part of certification requirements (http://www.ets.org/praxis/nasp).

Criminal Background Checks

Fingerprint-based background checks are a condition of certification (http://web.alsde.edu/home/Sections/SectionFAQs.aspx?SectionID=60). Background checks are carried out by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the FBI.

3M Cogent is Alabama's approved fingerprint vendor. Pre-registration is required. Candidates may register online (www.cogentid.com/AL) or dial 866-989-9316. They should be prepared to remit a $51.40 fee. Those wishing to use a credit card should pay upon registration; it is also acceptable to pay by money order or cashier check at the fingerprinting site.

A list of in-state fingerprinting locations is available on the 3M Cogent site. The candidate must bring acceptable identification to the fingerprinting site (https://www.cogentid.com/al/AL_Documents/AL_ID_Verification.htm).

Out-of-state applicants may have their fingerprints inked and then sent to Alabama's approved vendor. In this instance, re-registration should be done online. After registering with the vendor, the candidate may call (334) 353-8567 or email the Alabama Department to receive two fingerprint cards. They will then arrange to have prints made at a local agency.

3M Cogent charges a $59.40 fee for processing out-of-state fingerprints (https://www.cogentid.com/al/index_ade.htm). This is in addition to any fee that may be charged by the out-of-state fingerprinting agency. The registration ID must appear on the back of the card.

The Department notes that a criminal history will not automatically preclude certification. The Department considers whether the incident has a bearing on one's fitness to work with children.

The Application Process

Application forms are available in the 'Publications' section of the Department of Education website (http://www.alsde.edu/sec/tc/Lists/Publications/AllItems.aspx). The document 'General Information Regarding Alabama Certification’ notes which forms will be required for particular certifications.

Candidates will need to provide official transcripts of all college credit. Transcripts that were previously submitted when applying for another Alabama educator certificate, however, do not need to be resubmitted.

There is a $30 nonrefundable application fee. There is an additional $4.00 fee for those who pay through the Department of Education Teacher Certification Online Payment System.

If applying by the NCSP pathway, candidates will need to provide a copy of their credential or verify that they are in the Directory of Nationally Certified School Psychologists (http://www.alsde.edu/sec/tc/Alabama%20Administrative%20Code/290-3-2-.21%20Nationally%20Certified%20School%20Psychologist%20Approach.pdf).

The Department is unable to review applications until all materials have been received; they note that faxed or emailed documents are not accepted.

School Psychometry Credential

‘School psychometrist’ is the related lower level credential. School psychometry credentials are issued at the 'A' level; this reflects one year of graduate coursework. An internship of 300 clock hours is required; it may be supervised by a school psychometrist or school psychologist.

The credential requires a master's and completion of a State-approved program. The school psychometry program is also designed to build on prior experience. Before being certified as a school psychometrist, an individual needs a level B certificate and two years of educational experience.

Reciprocity

Alabama allows for certificates to be issued based on out-of-state credentials as outlined in Rule 290-3-2-.22. Candidates must meet Alabama’s examination and experience requirements.

Reciprocity candidates who have taken the Praxis II school psychologist test in another state must demonstrate a score of 143 (http://www.ets.org/praxis/al/reciprocity/).

Psychology Licenses

Psychologists who wish to practice outside a school setting must have a license issued by the Alabama Board of Psychological Examiners (http://www.psychology.state.al.us). The Alabama Board recognizes school psychology as a specialty within professional psychology.

Additional Information

The Department of Education may be reached at (334) 353-8567 or through the contact form linked to on the main page of the website (http://www.alsde.edu/Pages/home.aspx).

The Alabama Association of School Psychologists (http://www.alasp.org) is an additional resource.