Individuals interested in working with children to improve their lives and emotional well-being may want to consider a career as a child psychologist. The child psychology field offers potential for professional growth and personal gratification, but also requires a large academic commitment and dedication to continued learning. Before starting down the path to a career in child psychology, it is important to answer several important questions, such as: What level of postsecondary education must I complete to become a child psychologist? How much can I expect to earn? What is the potential for career advancement as a professional in child psychology?
This “how to become” guide offers a solid introduction to the field of child psychology. Below are some answers to the above questions and many others, with helpful sections on educational requirements, salary and job outlook, tools to search for college programs, and steps to take to launch a child psychologist career.Search Child Psychology Degree Programs
What Does a Child Psychologist Do?
Child psychology is a specialized area of professional psychology that applies scientific knowledge and therapeutic skills in the assessment and treatment of psychological issues of infants, toddlers, children and adolescents. Child psychologists may work with children of all ages in a specific area of treatment, or with a specific age group on more generalized emotional and developmental issues. Areas of specialization include abnormal child psychology, developmental psychology, school psychology and educational psychology. Typical tasks include the diagnosis and treatment of learning and developmental disabilities, administration of psychological tests, managing child behavioral issues and conducting scientific research. With the appropriate credentials, child psychologists may also be employed as teachers, counselors, social workers and legal consultants.
The Steps: Becoming a Child Psychologist
Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
In almost all cases, a career as a child psychologist require earning a doctorate. The first step toward a doctoral degree is to complete a bachelor's degree program from a reputable college or university. Major programs specifically in child psychology are rare on the bachelor's level, so most students opt for a general psychology course of study. Bachelor's degree programs in psychology are popular and can be found on major college and university campuses throughout the United States, as well as through primarily online institutions. Full accreditation is essential, and students should verify before enrolling that schools are accredited by an agency that is recognized by the Department of Education (DOE). Earning a bachelor's degree in psychology is not a guarantee of subsequent acceptance into a quality graduate program, so students must endeavor to maintain a high GPA during their four years of undergraduate study.