How to become a Child Psychologist

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Child Psychologist? What Child Psychologists do? Degrees for Child Psychologists, 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 the emotions and experiences of a child in order to progress treatment plans and ways of coping with their illness. Becoming a child psychologist, you may specialize in developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, or adolescent psychology.

Learn how to become a child psychologist by the following steps:

  • Earn a bachelor's degree in psychology
  • Gain a Master's degree in Psychology
  • Gain relevant experience
  • Aim at earning a license
  • Become American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) certified.

Here is an overview of the child psychologist profession,

Career Title

Child Psychologist

Degree Requirements

Master’s degree

Job Growth

15%

Experience required

2-3 years

Salary (2020)

$81,331

How long to become a Child Psychologist

6 years

Required Skills

Problem-solving, Communication, Compassion, Connect with patient

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

1

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.

Step 1  Earn a Bachelor's degree in psychology

2

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.

Step 2  Earn a Graduate degree in psychology

3

Gain Experience

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

Step 3 Gain Experience

4

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.

 Step 4 Earn a state license

5

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.

Step 5  Become Board Certified


Child Psychologist Salaries

Child Psychologist

Child Psychologist Degree Levels

Bachelors

As we know that there are various career paths to become a child psychologist, understanding the educational requirements to become a child psychologist helps in planning your career path better. 

A bachelor's degree in child psychology offers 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 interested in analyzing human behavior. 

Introduction to Psychology
  • Study regarding discipline of child psychology

  • Study theories related to child development

  • Discuss central to child psychology

Objectives

Understand how child psychologists work in different applied settings.

Personality Development
  • Basic introduction to personality.

  • Theories of personality development

  • Stages of development theories

Objectives

This program provides an in-depth information about personalities

Cognitive Processes
  • Introduction to cognitive psychology

  • Study of basic mental processes

  • Methods used in Contemporary Cognitive 

Objectives

Essential assumptions & issues that inspire the state of the art research in contemporary cognitive psychology

Masters

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.

Developmental Science
  • Examine the biopsychosocial mechanisms

  • Describing deviant behavior at a specific age

  • Focus on mental and behavioral phenomena

Objectives

This program aims to understand how learning and development are supported by environmental factors across infancy and childhood. 

School Counselling
  • Personal and social development

  • Career decision-making

  • Engage in school-based crisis management

Objectives

Apply developmental and intervention models for the development of students as unique individuals within educational settings

Diversity and Childhood Development
  • Applying developmental theories to patients

  • Role of diversity in development

  • Theoretical frameworks 

Objectives

Understanding how diversity affects the cognitive and behavioral development

Doctorate

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 of 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.

Child Neuropsychology
  • Conducting neuropsychological assessments

  • Diagnoses and treatment plans

  • Understanding the aspects of assessment

Objectives

This program explains how information gathered from neuropsychological assessments help in a treatment plan for a child or adolescent.

Childhood and Adolescent Behavioral Disorders
  • Understanding of behavioral disorders

  • Factors affect children behavior

  • Study of temperament, family etc

Objectives

This course focuses range of behavioral disorders affecting this population.

Clinical Child Psychology Practicum
  • Treatment plans and outcomes

  • Review and synthesize data

  • Developing further interview skills

Objectives

This program helps students become oriented to the practice of child psychologists.


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 specialization, they get the best exposure in the fields.

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 on 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 of the behavioral assessment, they tailor the treatment plan for an individual. However, they are different from the psychologists who are involved in administrative as well as the 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 master's 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 this, 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 a rapport with various techniques to talk to children. 

Empathic: when the child has faced issues and trauma, the psychologist must show compassion and empathize with 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.