I Make $103,000 As A School Psychologist

In our series My 6-Figure Paycheck, women making more than $100,000 open up about how they got there and what exactly they do. We take a closer look at what it feels like to be a woman making six-figures — when only 5% of American women make that much, according to the U.S. Census with the hope it will give women insight into how to better navigate their own career and salary trajectories.
Today, we chat with a 28-year old school psychologist in San Francisco, CA. Previously, we spoke to a 33-year-old attorney from Charleston, SC, a 28-year old sales director in the medical device industry from Austin, TX, a 28-year old senior social media associate in the aviation industry in Washington D.C.
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Job: School Psychologist, Special Education
Age: 28
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Degree: BA in Psychology and MA in Counseling with a School Psychology Credential
First Salary: $97,000
Current Salary: $103,000
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. Everyone my age wanted to be the next J.K. Rowling, but I was also inspired by seeing the text books my father wrote around the house. I loved seeing our last name on the binding of his books on our bookshelf and flipping through them when I was bored and there was nothing good on TV."
What did you study in college?
"I have a bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree in Counseling with a credential in School Psychology."
Did you have to take out student loans?
"I did not have to take out student loans, thanks to junior college and public universities. I also took a year off between my B.A. and M.A. to serve in AmeriCorps who paid me a stipend and matched part of my graduate school tuition."
Have you been working at this job since you graduated college?
"I landed this job right after graduate school. I took the summer off to travel (as I do every summer) and relax as it can be a very emotionally taxing job.
"Before entering graduate school I worked as a literacy tutor for AmeriCorps to gain some real-life experience working in the schools. I was paid a stipend and they matched part of my graduate school tuition which was great because I was working as a low paid School Psychology intern each year of my program."
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How would you explain your day-to-day role at your job?
"I work with children in special education with learning disabilities and emotional, developmental or physical differences that affect their ability to access the general education curriculum.
"I do psycho-educational testing, counseling, and consultation with teachers and parents. I attend meetings to create Individual Education Plans for my students in order to help them reach their full potential in school."
Did you negotiate your salary?
"No, we are all paid the same rate at my current job. We also received a raise the year I started, and have gotten one each year I’ve been there thanks to a bigger education budget in California. I can ask for more days in my contract, which would raise my salary, but one of the perks of being a school psychologist is not having to work all summer!"
Is your current job your “passion”? If not, what is?
"I love working with children in a school setting. Some days, I feel very passionate about the work I am doing. Other days, I feel emotionally burned out. It’s also a balance between having fun working with kids and sitting in long bureaucratic meetings. My heart is with helping kids, not long meetings and stacks of paperwork."
If you could, would you change anything in your career trajectory?
"I would love to work as a school psychologist until I retire with a pension at age 55. I chose this career because I can keep learning new skills and will never be bored. Each year is completely different than the last. I would not want to “move up” the ranks, because then I would be an administrator rather than working with children. The only thing I would change is my ability to fight burn out."
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What professional advice would you give your younger self?
"Find your voice so that you can be a voice for others."
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Are you a woman under 35 with a six-figure salary ($100,000+) and want to tell your story? Submit it here.
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