What is Child Psychology?
Child psychologists study learning patterns, behavioral developments, and environmental factors affecting children from infancy through adolescence.
They may specialize in developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, or adolescent psychology. Parents of children who have suffered trauma or who have physical, mental, or learning disabilities often seek help from child psychologists.
These professionals can work as counselors, advisors, or researchers for social, academic, corporate or community programs. Read on to learn more about the practice of child psychology and how to maximize opportunities in the field.
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What Does a Child Psychologist Do?
Many child psychologists work in private practices, often collaborating with academic and healthcare professionals. Depending on their specialty, child psychologists may work in the court system, daycares, elementary and secondary schools, government organizations, hospitals, or research facilities. Successful child psychologists possess the following core skills:
Skills and Competencies
Strong Communication and Observation
Motivation to Help Others
Various concentrations address different patient needs based on age or specific psychological or behavioral issues. The following sections detail the three primary concentrations in child psychology:
Areas of Expertise in Child Psychology
Child Psychology By the Numbers
Psychologists can explore a variety of lucrative career opportunities across the field, focusing on different disciplines. Psychologists enjoy annual median salaries of $79,010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2018, the lowest 10% of psychologists earned less than $43,800, while the highest 10% earned more than $129,250.
These salary figures break down further by psychology type, with clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earning median annual wages of $87,450. Industrial-organizational psychologists earn median annual wages of $111,150, while all other psychologists enjoy annual median wages of $98,230.
The top-paying industries for psychologists include government, hospitals (state, local, and private), ambulatory healthcare services, and elementary and secondary schools.
The BLS projects jobs for psychologists to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. Employment for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists continue to grow, since the demand for psychological services in schools, mental health centers, hospitals, and social service agencies remains constant.
How Do I Become a Child Psychologist?
Becoming a child psychologist requires a minimum of a master’s degree, with a major in child development or clinical psychology studies. Psychologists need a Ph.D., which focuses on research, or a Psy.D., which focuses on clinical practice, to advance to top positions in the field. Beginning at the master’s level, clinical internships and practicums are integrated into standard curriculum. Individuals need post-internship experience or fieldwork to obtain state licensure and professional certification.
If you want to know how to become a child psychologist, read on to explore your options. Select the status that best describes your present level of education in the field:
Licensure for Child Psychologists
Each state requires its own specific licensing requirements that professionals must meet. To practice child psychology, professionals must obtain licensure from their state’s licensing board. In some states, psychologists working at a college, university, research laboratory, state or federal institution, or a research corporation might not need to obtain licensure.
Licensing requirements include meeting educational criteria. Most states require a doctoral degree in psychology from a regionally accredited college or university. All states require candidates for licensure to complete and pass the EPPP test, demonstrating their competencies in core areas of psychology. Each state sets its own parameters for minimum score requirements that applicants must meet to obtain their license.
In addition to educational criteria and passing the EPPP exam, candidates for psychology licensure must accrue supervised clinical hours designated by their state’s licensing board. Some states might also require candidates to pass a jurisprudence exam.
Psychology Internship Opportunities
Child psychologist education requirements typically include an internship or practicum component. Specific requirements differ depending on the degree level, college or university, and program focus. Internships and practicums share many similarities, including providing valuable in-the-field experience that allows learners to connect coursework concepts to professional responsibilities.
The scope of work students perform differs between practicums and internships. Practicums allow degree-seekers to work closely with psychology professionals, watching them perform tasks like recommending treatments and counseling their patients. Meanwhile, internships allow learners to work more independently, reporting to a supervisor, but often performing duties without a supervisor’s direct presence.
Internships and practicums in the psychology field allow learners to consider a variety of settings, encouraging them to choose an opportunity that directly relates to their desired career path. These settings include substance abuse facilities, private practices, correctional facilities, and hospitals. Psychology students can review this page to learn more about internship organizations and resources.
Internship or practicum length depends on a school’s specific requirements. Most opportunities require learners to complete more than 1,000 hours of in-the-field experience. Instead of payment, these experiences usually provide learners with academic credits.