Clinical Child Psychologist: Career Information and Requirements

Jun 12, 2021

A clinical child psychologist uses therapy and other psychology treatment techniques to help children. They may interview, evaluate, diagnose and treat children with emotional or behavioral issues. Typical requirements for this career include a doctoral degree and licensure.

Essential Information

Clinical child psychologists help children with behavioral and psychological issues by employing methods such as play therapy, psychotherapy and hypnosis. Psychologists may treat children in private practice, hospitals or mental health facilities. A doctoral degree is required for clinical psychologists in private practice, and all states require that they be licensed. Licensure generally requires earning a degree, completing an internship and passing a licensing examination.

Required Education Doctoral degree in clinical child psychology or related field
Other Requirements State licensing
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 3% for all clinical, counseling and school psychologists*
Median Salary (2020) $79,820 for all clinical, counseling and school psychologists*

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

Career Information

The duties of a clinical child psychologist include providing assessment through interviews, psychological tests and analysis of the child's history. Psychologists may then prepare a diagnosis and treatment plan, such as psychotherapy, behavior modification, hypnosis or play therapy.

In most states, clinical child psychologists cannot write prescriptions, but may refer the patient to a psychiatrist if medication is necessary. These psychologists may contribute to research literature in their field, which can advance the treatment possibilities for children with psychological or behavioral issues.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for clinical, counseling and school psychologists is expected to grow about as fast as the average between 2019 and 2029. In May 2020, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $138,550 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $46,410 or less per year.


Clinical child psychologists must have a doctoral degree to work as an independent practitioner, such as the Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Child Psychology. Students entering a doctoral degree program with a master's in psychology, as well as an approved thesis, may be able to complete their doctorate in four years.

Licensure requirements for clinical psychologists vary by state, but can include a doctoral degree in psychology, professional experience, an approved internship and an examination. The BLS notes that in some states, psychologists need to complete continuing education to renew their license. Individuals can enhance employment opportunities by earning credentials from the American Board of Professional Psychology, such as the clinical child and adolescent psychology specialty certification.

The general requirements for board certification include a doctoral degree in psychology and current license. Clinical child psychologists must also meet the specialty board requirements, which include an examination to qualify for the credential, as well as an internship of at least one year and supervised experience.

Clinical child psychologists may work in private practices, doctor's offices, or hospitals. Clinical work requires a doctoral degree, and most states require licensure to work as a psychologist. Licensure requirements may dictate clinical experience beyond a doctoral program and a licensing exam.

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