How to Become a Child Psychologist

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Child Psychologist? What Child Psychologist do? Degrees for Child Psychologist, Steps to become Child Psychologist and much more.

Child psychology is a study of learning patterns, behavioral developments and environmental aspects disturbing a child from infancy through adolescence. Child psychologists are trained experts who deal with emotions and experiences of a child in order to progress treatment plans and ways of coping with their illness. A child psychologist may specialize in developmental psychology, abnormal psychology or adolescent psychology.

What does a Child Psychologist do ?

A Child psychologist is specialised in treating the children and adolescent developmental issues and behavior. Their concern is to assess child health, child stress, development , learning disability, mental illness, emotional and behavioural issues.

The job role of a child psychologist includes a wide range of responsibilities such as:

  • Adolescent and Young Adult Development

  • Child Development

  • Multicultural and Diversity Issues in Psychology

  • Professional Issues in Clinical Child Psychology

  • Psychology and the Legal System

  • Psychopathology in Children

  • Psychotherapy with Families

  • Social and Emotional Assessment

  • Design and Analysis of Developmental Research

Steps for becoming a Child Psychologist


Earn A Bachelor's Degree In Psychology

A bachelor’s degree in psychology acts as a foundation for doctoral programs and provides necessary skills that are crucial to building one’s career. Bachelor’s degree covers numerous programs such as cultural diversity, communications, fundamentals of psychology, child development, general psychology, social sciences and statistics . Few positions with the federal government demand bachelor’s degrees as its minimum educational requirement.


Earn A Graduate Degree In Psychology

A graduate degree program focuses on advanced course works in psychological theories and research. Programs require a distinct project or theory, which includes research and study in a particular topic or area of psychology. To work as a child psychologist a student needs to pursue the Master’s degree or a doctorate degree in psychology. Coursework is designed to provide students with skills in behavioral, biological and cognitive approaches to child psychology


Gain Experience

According to state requirements, you must get a license to work as a psychologist. To obtain a license there are certain criterias such as gaining experience or completing a practicum under the guidance of the American Psychological Association. 


Earn A State License

A license plays an important role in practicing psychology in the state. The requirement is you must hold a specific degree, having practical experience in the field and completing a written exam. It is necessary for you to clear the Examination of professional Practice in psychology held by the  Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.


Become Board Certified

The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) provides an opportunity to become a board-certified psychologist. To convert into a board-certified, student needs to meet education and experience requirements and complete an examination.

Child Psychologist Salaries

Child Psychologist

Child psychologist salaries

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average salary offered to a Child psychologist is about $81,331 per year in 2020. The salary offered may primarily depend on the education, certification, specialization, additional skills and also the amount of experience in that field. 

Job growth

The employment opportunities for a Child psychologist is projected to have a growth of 14 percent during the period of 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average growth of other jobs. The role offered for a Child psychologist who has a doctoral degree in a specialisation, they get the best exposure in the fields.

Child Psychologist degree level

As we know that there are various career paths to become a child psychologist, understing the educational requirements to become a child chyshologist helps in planning your career path better. Here are various degree level that you can choose towards advancement of your career,

Bachelor’s degree in  child psychology:

A bachelor's degree in child psychology is a four year program that offers 120-160 credit offers to complete the basic foundation required to establish a career as a teacher or counselor for school-aged children. Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree learn concepts of child growth and development as well as clinical research methods. The skills gained in the learning process of this program may be used by students who wish to directly treat psychological disorders or students who possess interest in analyzing human behavior.

Master’s degree in child psychology:

A master degree in child psychology provides students an opportunity to gain knowledge and training by means of the specialized course and programs. Programs may include a graduate-level internship. Students who complete the program can seek advanced careers working with children.

Doctorate in child psychology:

A Doctor of Philosophy in Child Psychology (Ph.D.) is the highest degree level available in the field before choosing this level, you must be aware about the total time it takes to become a child psychologist. Programs under this program focus on theory as opposed to practice; this may be particularly relevant to roles in research and academia. Doctoral classes give students an understanding of how to approach and treat mental health and emotional issues.

Academic concentrations to become a Child Psychologist

Here are some courses offered under the degree level,

Introduction to Psychology:

This is an introductory course offered to students regarding the discipline of child psychology, theories related to child development and the concepts focusing on child psychology.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand how the child psychology works

  • Reactions and behavior of children in different applied settings.

Personality Development:

Students are exposed to the Basic introduction to personality, Theories of personality development and Stages of development theories in this course.

Skills acquired:

  • Understanding the personality development

  • In-depth information about personality theories

Cognitive Processes

The course details on the introduction to cognitive psychology, basic mental processes and the various methods used in Contemporary Cognitive.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand on the essential assumptions made during the research

  • Learn the issues that inspire the state of the art research in contemporary cognitive psychology

Developmental Science:

This course helps to understand the biopsychosocial mechanisms, the deviant behavior at a specific age and also focuses on the mental and behavioral phenomena.

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the learning and development 

  • environmental factors impacting infancy and childhood. 

School Counselling:

This course summarizes the personal and social development, support in career decision-making and engage in school-based crisis management of the students at school

Skills acquired:

  • Motivate students in development as an unique individual

  • Counsel them on their education and overall development

  • Support decision making

Diversity and Childhood Development:

This course helps in understanding the role of diversity in development, theoretical concepts and development theories of patents

Skills acquired:

  • Understand the diversity in development of children

  • Understand how diversity affects the cognitive and behavioral development

Child Neuropsychology

The course provides both academic and administrative knowledge such as conducting neuropsychological assessments, diagnosis and treatment plans and also understanding the aspects of assessment.

Skills acquired:

  • Learn how information gathered from neuropsychological assessments help in a treatment plan for a child or adolescent.

Childhood and Adolescent Behavioral Disorders:

The course allows you in understanding of behavioral disorders, the factors affect children behavior and study of temperament, family etc

Skills acquired:

  • focus on the range of behavioral disorders affecting this population.

Clinical Child Psychology Practicum:

The course beliefs about the treatment plans and outcomes, review and synthesize data and also develop further interview skills.

Skills acquired:

  • Helps in becoming oriented to the practice of child psychologists.

Job concentrations

the certifications and the education to become a psychologist will also fetch you other job opportunities such as,

School Psychologist:

Average salary: $70,580 

School Psychologists are trained to treat school children by conducting one-on-one sessions to help them with overall development as an individual as well as in academics. They perform research on the teaching and learning techniques to make sure they address issues concerned with children. They work with teachers to develop better techniques to engage children in classroom learning  while their issues are being solved. 

Developmental Psychologist:

Average salary: $94,590

The developmental psychologists are focused with human development in various stages of their lives. They deal with the psychology of infants, children, adolescents and also on how they develop at every stage of life. They specialize in fields such as cognitive skills, personality, emotions, language acquisition, and how morals are developed and understood. 

Clinical Child Psychologist:

Average salary: $70,580 

Clinical child psychologists are involved in diagnosing and treating patients with a variety of treatment methodologies and frameworks. With their knowledge on the behavioural assessment , they tailor the treatment plan for an individual. However they are different from the psychologists who are involved in administrative as well as development of individuals. 

Postsecondary Child Psychology Professor:

Average salary: $70,260

The child psychologist works as professors at an institution after conducting research on the topics or by attaining a masters degree with courses on behavioral and cognitive development, behavioral disorders, and psychological treatment theories. They may involve in the coordinate practicums and fieldwork placements for their students and perform independent research to deepen their knowledge in their area of interest. T

Stand out skills for a Child Psychologist

As a child psychologist, identifying and treating the issues is important. Alongside, the additional skills are required to excel in the career. They are,

Communication: Interacting with the children and adolescents who face problems to communicate about themselves is a challenge. Hence the child psychologist must be well versed in communicating and develop rapport with various techniques to talk to children. 

Empathic: when the child has faced issues and trauma, the psychologist must show compassion and empathize the children. This helps in understanding what the child has gone through and comforting the child with different books, toys, and programs. These techniques make the child open up sooner. 

Problem-Solving: as a child psychologist there may be various challenges such as an unstable situation, uncertainties. Hence you must assess the patient well and develop a treatment plan that fits with the child’s life with the professional skills and years of experience.

Trustworthy: As a doctor, you must make your patients feel safe and secure with the information they share. You must build trust with the patients so that they talk openly about themselves. With a welcoming personality the patients feel comfortable and welcoming to talk about the concerned issue.