Child Psychologist: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Explore the career requirements for child psychologists. Get the facts about educational requirements, licensure, career outlook and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Child Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

A child psychologist helps children with mental and developmental issues. The following chart shows an overview of what you may want to know about becoming a child psychologist.

Degree Required Doctoral degree
Education Field of Study Child psychology
Training Required Clinical or supervised experience
Licensure Required All states require licensure, but requirements vary by state
Job Growth (2012-2022) 11% for clinical, counseling and school psychologists*
Average Salary (2013) $72,710 for clinical, counseling and school psychologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Will My Job Duties Be as a Child Psychologist?

Your work can be grouped into the areas of assessment, consultation, intervention and prevention. Your clients might include premature, ill and drug-addicted newborns, children with schizophrenia, autism and delayed or uneven development or trauma survivors.

Assessments are conducted through techniques such as interviews with parents and children, cognitive testing and behavioral observation. Consultation entails conferring with pediatricians, teachers, social workers, child protection workers and fellow child psychologists about treatment or care options.

Intervention encompasses a range of treatment approaches, including family therapy and counseling, individual therapy, cognitive therapy and behavior modification in the home or classroom. Prevention aims to steer children away from delinquency, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, shield them from prolonged exposure to abusive or neglectful environments and avoid delays in language and cognitive development.

What Are My Job Prospects?

Mental health clinics, hospitals, schools and government agencies are possible employers for child psychologists, but you can also establish a private practice. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that job growth for clinical, counseling and school psychologists could see an 11% increase between 2012-2022, which is about average job growth (www.bls.gov).

According to the BLS, in 2013, the average annual salary for clinical, counseling and school psychologists was $72,710. Elementary and secondary schools reported the highest number of employed psychologists.

What Education Do I Need?

You need a doctoral degree in child psychology and a state license to practice as a child psychologist. General requirements for licensure include passing the National Psychology Licensing Exam and possibly two years of supervised counseling or clinical experience.

Doctoral programs examine children as individuals and as products of the social forces exerted by their families, peer groups, communities and culture. Normal mental and emotional development, the emergence of abnormal or pathological behavior and methods of treatment are explored from multiple theoretical and clinical perspectives through a combination of academic courses, seminars and field practicums. Field practicums will also help you develop your own approach to therapy. Courses and seminars are completed in the first 2-3 years of the degree program, with the remainder of the program devoted to researching and writing a dissertation on an original topic in the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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