What Can You Do With a PhD in Developmental Psychology? - Careers & Salary

Jul 30, 2021

Career Options for a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology

A Ph.D. in developmental psychology gives graduates a depth of understanding related to human development, including theories, concerns, and best practices. Graduates are prepared to understand and improve the lives of families and individuals in one of several careers, applying their understanding of social, physical, emotional, and cognitive health.

Job Title Median Salary (2020)* Estimated Job Growth (2019-2029)*
Marriage and Family Therapists $51,340 22%
Mental Health Counselors $47,660 (Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Behavioral Disorder Counselors) 25% (Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Behavioral Disorder Counselors)
Postsecondary Teachers: Psychology $78,180 9%
Psychologists $82,180 3%
School and Career Counselors $58,120 8%
Sociologists $86,110 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists provide counsel and treatment to individuals, families, and couples. These therapists will apply different techniques in helping their patients and use a family-centered approach. Candidates holding a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology may have preference because of their deeper understanding of psychological issues, causes, and approaches throughout an individual's life. Licensing is required for this career.

Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors provide services and treatment to couples, groups, individuals, and families. Some counselors may work with specific groups such as children and students. Counselors helps their patients to understand and address issues such as depression, grief, and anxiety. Mental health counselors typically need at least a master's degree, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology may give candidates a competitive edge. All states require licensing.

Postsecondary Teachers: Psychology

Postsecondary psychology teachers instruct students at community colleges and universities, and often are required to have a Ph.D. in their subject area. Postsecondary instructors must possess sufficient knowledge and practice in order to effectively share that knowledge with their students. Those who have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology may be responsible for teaching a variety of psychology topics, especially those pertaining to development. Responsibilities may include instruction, grading, advising, and conducting/publishing research.


Psychologists typically need a Ph.D. because of the extensive knowledge and preparation needed to complete job duties effectively. Psychologists study human emotions and behaviors through observations and analysis. Psychologists may work with individuals to identify behavioral, emotional, psychological, and other issues in order to diagnose and treat them. There are several types of psychologists, but a developmental psychologist would be the most fitting for a Ph.D. in developmental psychology because of the instruction on development, aging, and various age groups. Licensing laws vary be state.

School Counselors

School counselors work with students to improve their social and academic skills in an effort for them to succeed. School counselors conduct student assessments and interviews in order to identify any issues that may be hurting their school performance, and work with students to resolve and improve those concerns. School counselors typically need at least a master's degree in school counseling, but a Ph.D. in developmental psychology gives applicants a deeper understanding of student behaviors and a broader skillset for how to approach and resolve issues. States have various licensing requirements.


Sociologists examine behaviors by observing a variety of groups, cultures, and institutions in order to understand the processes that occur when people interact. Sociologists may create research theories and projects, collect and analyze data, and prepare presentations and reports based on their findings. Sociologists may specialize in specific areas such as families, populations, gender, education, and ethnic relations. Many employers require applicants to have a Ph.D.; an applicant holding a Ph.D. in developmental psychology should have an in-depth understanding of psychology topics, especially those relating to children, families, and education.

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