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How To Become A Child Psychologist: Career And Salary Information

Children are such an important part of society. The future of the world lies in their little hands. And yet, so often, what they say and what they do is silenced. There is a false notion that children should be seen and not heard, but how can we expect to have a generation of well-adapted and functioning adults when they have been silenced in their formative years?

Child psychologists, also known as developmental psychologists, play an important role in assessing how young children interact with their environments, how they respond to their environments, and based on expected and societal norms, are there any deviations and how can this be treated?

As unfortunate as it is, children also face traumatic incidents at very young ages, sometimes more often than not. Child psychologists work with them in overcoming their trauma, healthily dealing with their emotions, and setting them on a better path for their future.

To become a child or developmental psychologist, you would need to obtain, at the very least, a graduate degree in psychology, preferably at a doctorate level, you would need to choose a field of focus, you would need to get hands-on experience, and the appropriate licensure and certification.

Let us delve into the career path of a child psychologist and learn everything you need to know about this career prospect.

What Is A Child Psychologist?

A child psychologist assesses how a child interacts with their environment and what are their behavioral responses to their environment. They work closely with populations that are under the age of 18 and 21, and they may work in clinic settings, hospital settings, schools, or even in their private practices.

What Does A Child Psychologist Do?

It has been found in recent years that children are suffering more and more from mental illnesses and mental disorders such as stress and anxiety. Child abuse, excessive use of video games, and other contributing factors have led to young children facing depression, developmental delays, and a number of other mental illnesses.

The need for child psychologists has increased greatly which is both a good thing in that children can now get the help that they need and that they deserve, but it is also a bad thing in that there is a real-world issue that we are facing that places our youth at risk almost constantly, creating a need for them to see child psychologists.

Child psychologists are required to diagnose and treat developmental, behavioral, and emotional delays that children may face on a daily basis. They also seek to pinpoint what is the source of any mental delays or disorders that children may face.

Once they have pinpointed the cause, whether as a result of emotional trauma, developmental delays, mental illnesses, or mental delays, child psychologists will then work with the child, and sometimes with their families too, in treating the mental and developmental problems at hand.

In basic terms, child psychologists do for children what psychologists do for adults. They help them overcome transitions that may affect them emotionally or mentally, this includes helping them through transitions that they may face for which they are ill-prepared.

Types of Child Psychologists

Within the field of child psychology, there are multiple subfields that you could choose to be your focus. These are clinical child psychology, developmental child psychology, school psychology that school counselors fulfill, and education child psychology.

Steps To Become A Child Psychologist

Step One: Obtain Your Qualifications

The first step to becoming a child psychologist is realizing your passion to work with kids and determining how you would like to use that passion. If you are inclined toward psychology and you have a love for children, you can pursue a role as a child psychologist.

You would need to first obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology, ensuring that you pursue coursework that is geared towards child psychology. These courses may include clinical psychology, behavioral and developmental psychology, and abnormal psychology.

Step Two: Obtain A Graduate Degree

You would then need to pursue a master's or a doctoral degree to further drive your career as a child psychologist. Before deciding to pursue these graduate degrees, it is important to know what your goals are.

If you are hoping to get into early childhood education or if you are hoping to pursue a role as a childminder, a bachelor's degree may suffice. However, if you are hoping to become a practicing child psychologist, you would need to pursue either a master's degree or a doctoral degree depending on the state requirements in which you are hoping to practice.

Step Three: Complete Experience Training

Whether it is in the form of an internship or volunteering at a school or childcare facility, it is important to garner hands-on experience to put your theoretical training and expertise into practice.

Once you have completed your training under the supervision of a senior child psychologist, you can then move on to the next step.

Step Four: Obtain Licensure And Certification

To practice as a child psychologist, you would need to complete a licensure examination from the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology that assesses your knowledge of fundamental and advanced theories in different areas of psychology. Once you have passed this license examination, you would need to be certified by The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

With this certification in hand, you will officially be qualified as a child psychologist.

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Child Psychologist?

You would need a master's degree or a doctorate to be a child psychologist.

What Is The Average Salary For A Child Psychologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), psychologists earn a median annual salary of $81,040.

What Makes A Good Child Psychologist?

As a child psychologist, you will be working with a vulnerable population. Children are extremely impressionable, and the way you handle them will impact the type of adults they will be and how they will approach their lives and society as an adult.

You will therefore need to have patience and a passion to work with children. You will also need to have empathy to understand what a child may be feeling as they experience big emotions towards things that adults may not take seriously. You would need to be able to validate their feelings and allow them to go through whatever they are facing in a safe environment.

You would also need to have a strong sense of compassion and in some cases, a strong stomach as you would have to closely work with children who may have experienced frightening and harrowing circumstances.


What Is The Job Outlook For Psychologists?

The BLS states that the overall employment for psychologists is expected to see a projected 8% growth between 2020 and 2030.

Who Is The Most Famous Child Psychologist?

Jean Piaget is a Swiss psychologist that sought to identify and develop a systematic approach to studying child psychology.

Why Would A Child Need To See A Psychologist?

If a child is not developing as expected and they are facing any form of delays, or if they experience a traumatic event in their lives, they will need to see a child psychologist.


Where a passion for working with children intersects with the field of psychology is where individuals in child psychology will thrive.

Child psychologists play an integral role in molding a society that will one day shape our world.

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