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How To Become A Developmental Psychologist: Degree & Career Guide

Have you ever had a childhood friend and you look at them later in life and realize that they have changed so much from years before? Your close acquaintances probably think the same thing about you. This is not to say that it is a negative thing but change and development in life are welcomed expectations.

Developmental psychologists study this change that occurs over the lifespan of an individual. They look at the changes a person experiences and how these changes in their lives may affect and impact their growth, maturity, and development.

To pursue a career in developmental psychology, you must first obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology or a psychology-related field, then you would need to obtain a master's degree and a doctoral degree, and the appropriate license and certification to practice as a developmental psychologist.

Let us delve into the career prospect of the fascinating field of developmental psychology.

What Is A Developmental Psychologist?

A developmental psychologist looks at how human life progresses from one stage to the next. It looks at and assesses how a person develops and what are the innate and environmental inputs that affect this development.

In so doing, developmental psychologists look closely at nature versus nurture and how these aspects may influence a person's behavior and overall development. Developmental psychologists assess the early and later development of individuals, and they assess if development is happening as expected or if individuals are developing faster than normal or slower than normal.

If there are developmental delays, developmental psychologists will work with the patients in compiling and enforcing developmental exercises or they will advise individuals to enroll in specific schools or institutes that will aid their development.

Developmental psychologists will also look at certain instances from a person's childhood to determine what behavioral elements they exhibit later in life. For example, if a person experiences extreme trauma in their childhood, they may be more likely or prone to developing addictions later in life.

Developmental psychologists will look at this trauma and will assess how it may have molded or shaped a person later in life.

What Does A Developmental Psychologist Do?

While it is impossible to assess the entire lifespan of a person, many developmental psychologists will focus on a particular time frame of life. This means that they will assess developmental aspects and milestones that take place during early childhood, adolescents, and even adulthood.

They will look at different populations to establish a benchmark or a norm, and they will look at and assess any deviations from these norms.

Developmental psychologists look at development in a variety of different facets of life. They look at cognitive development, gender development, personality development, physical growth, psychosocial and psychosexual development, and sexual development.

Steps To Become A Developmental Psychologist

Step One: Obtain A Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is the first step you take in any career in psychology. You would need to pursue this degree to further your studies and pursue a career in developmental psychology.

Step Two: Earn Your Master's And Doctoral Degrees

Many people have to earn their doctoral degrees to practice psychology and open up their own private practices. Developmental psychologists are not exempt from this. If you want to work with children, adolescents, or even adults who are facing developmental difficulties, then you would need to obtain a doctoral degree.

You would need to garner experience under the supervision of a more experienced developmental psychologist. It will also be during this time that you would select your desired field of study. You will choose the specific age group and the specific aspect of development you are hoping to specialize in.

Step Four: Obtain Your License And Certification

To practice as a developmental psychologist and provide assistance and treatment for those suffering from any form of developmental delay, you will need to obtain a license and a certification to practice developmental psychology.

Step Five: Seek Employment

Once you have your qualification, your experience, and your license and certification in hand, you can then begin pursuing employment opportunities. You may even look into establishing your own private practice.

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Developmental Psychologist?

To practice as a developmental psychologist and treat people directly, you would need a doctorate in developmental psychology.

What Is The Average Salary For A Developmental Psychologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists earn a median annual salary of $81,040. This career path expects to see a projected growth of 6%.

What Makes A Good Developmental Psychologist?

It is important to have an integral understanding of the processes involved in human development. You need to understand what is expected and what deviates from the norm in developmental elements, and you are required to diagnose and treat any patient that falls outside of the expected norm.

You are required to have empathy, understanding, and patience in working with those who suffer from developmental delays and need help in understanding things that others may take for granted.

You will need to work with the patient and the family in establishing and sticking with advancement programs for the patient.


What Is The Difference Between Developmental Psychology And Child Psychology?

While child psychology focuses solely on the development within childhood and the formative years, developmental psychology looks at developmental transitions through the entire lifespan, which includes elements within adulthood.

Do You Have To Be Licensed To Be A Developmental Psychologist?

If you are hoping to practice in the role of a developmental psychologist, you will need a license and certification to practice. But If you are hoping to use a degree or qualification in developmental psychology to pursue a different but related job, you may not necessarily need to be licensed.

What Is The Main Focus Of Developmental Psychology?

Developmental psychologists pay close attention to human growth, changes, and developments that individuals may face across their lifespans.


If you are interested in how life progresses from one stage to the next, if these stages happen at a distinctive stopping and starting point, or if these stages smoothly and unnoticeably develop from one into another, then the field of developmental psychology may be the field of study for you.

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