Child Psychologist: Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a child psychologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Child psychologists are required to have a doctoral degree with clinical experience, and may also need post-doctoral training in child psychology if they plan to seek specialty certification. State licensing requirements must also be met before one can work as a child psychologist.

Essential Information

Child psychologists help children with mental and behavioral disorders, as well as those who have experienced traumatic events. These professionals observe a child's interactions and behavior patterns in order to interpret and assess why a child acts the way he or she does. Most individuals in this field hold doctoral degrees. During their studies they engage in research, study child development, and complete an internship. Psychologists generally must be licensed by the state in which they practice. Licensure typically requires a doctorate in psychology, clinical experience, and a passing grade on a licensing examination.

Required Education Doctoral degree with clinical experience; post-doctoral training in child psychology required for specialty certification
Licensing Most states require certification or licensing; specialty certification in child psychology is available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 19% for clinical, counseling and school psychologists
Median Salary (2015)* $70,580 for clinical, counseling and school psychologists

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Job Description of a Child Psychologist

Child psychologists understandings of behavior, emotions and feelings to help children deal with problems. These problems may be psychological, such as depression, or personal like those resulting from turbulent past experiences. Personal problems for children may also come from family issues like the absence of a parent or problems with development, including self-esteem and confidence issues.

Child psychologists may work as researchers, studying the actions of children and seeking to find specific patterns or providing answers for development. Child psychologists also work in support or supervision of social workers in a clinical setting. These psychologists are uniquely equipped to deal with childhood-specific issues of emotional development and substance abuse. In this capacity, child psychologists may try to help children understand consequences and avoid bad habits.

Educational Requirements to Become a Child Psychologist

Careers in child psychology typically require doctoral degrees. The training includes the basics of psychology pertaining to child development, family systems and learning processes. Some coursework in child psychology programs may include the academic study of pharmacology. Most programs require students to perform research on an issue in the field, like economic or biological factors that affect child development.

In addition to their studies, students are generally required to complete a 1-year internship. During the internship, students may monitor, observe and assess children for behavioral or other disorders. Other duties may include administering personality tests and researching the effects of medical drug treatments.

Career Outlook for a Child Psychologist

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employment opportunities for clinical, counseling and school psychologists are expected to increase by 19% between 2014 and 2024 ( Increased demand from government, social service agencies and schools in light of increased mental health awareness should cause the child psychology field to grow.

Some of the venues child psychologist can work in include hospitals, schools and doctor's offices. This field is currently experiencing projected job growth of 19% through 2024, which is much higher than average. Candidates preparing to enter this field should expect to complete their doctoral degree, state licensing requirements, and possibly post-doctoral training in child psychology.

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