Child psychologists, also called developmental psychologists, specialize in the study and treatment of mental, social and behavioral development in children from birth to adolescence. Major topics in the field center on genetics, language, personality, gender roles, cognition, sexuality and socialization. Some child psychologists see a range of patients, including toddlers, children and teens, while others specialize in one age group. Regardless of the sub-population a child psychologist treats, the main concern will be to understand, diagnose, prevent and treat mental, emotional and social developmental challenges.
How do they help children?
Child psychologists can help children facing a variety of issues. Abnormal psychologists work with children who experience psychological disorders, including mental illnesses, personality disorders, anxiety and depression. Other child psychologists, especially those who work with adolescents, may assist patients with overcoming self-esteem issues and eating disorders.
Many schools also employ psychologists who can help students with emotional and behavioral concerns that may affect academic achievement. These educational psychologists also explore different learning models and styles to help ensure that each student is reached, with special attention focused on helping gifted children and those with learning disabilities achieve their full potential.
How do they help families?
A large part of a child psychologist’s job is to help the family understand the issues the patient is facing. Parents, siblings and legal guardians can better help the child to cope and heal if the whole family is in the loop about what that child is facing.
Child psychologists may also help children who have been through trauma, including abuse, sexual assault, divorce, the death of a parent or homelessness. Often, these situations involve the entire family. By seeking help from a child psychologist, children and their families can begin the healing process. Child psychologists coordinate care with social workers to ensure these children and families receive the immediate and long-term care they need to become healthy adults.
Where do they work?
Child psychologists may be employed in a myriad of settings. They often work in schools, hospitals, mental health services, juvenile correctional facilities, courts or private practice. Daily duties vary depending on the setting in which a child psychologist works.
How much do they make?
Salaries for child psychologists are dependent upon the amount of education and training a candidate has and the setting in which the psychologist works. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all psychologists, as of May 2010, was $68,640. For those working in clinical, counseling and school settings, the median annual pay was $66,810. However, psychologists working in private practice may find the career much more lucrative. The highest 10 percent of earners in May 2010 netted more than $111,000.
Is this career right for me?
If you like working with children, you’ve probably considering a career as a child psychologist. However, it takes a lot more than a passion for working with young people to excel in this field. Children often have a difficult time understanding the issues that are affecting them, so child psychologists need to have immense patience. Because they spend a lot of time listening to and counseling children and their families, child psychologists also need to possess excellent communication and people skills and should be comfortable working with people of all ages, not just children.
Psychologists should also be well-versed in analysis and observation. Children may not always have the faculties to verbally communicate how they feel. Child psychologists must rely on inference and observational skills to determine the issues affecting a patient.
How can I become one?
It takes a great deal of schooling to become a psychologist. Most psychologists have a Ph.D. or Psy.D., although it is possible to enter the field with a master’s in psychology. School psychologists must have training in education and psychology; in most states, they are required to complete a 60-hour graduate program in school psychology.
In all states, psychologists must be licensed or certified. Typically, certification requires an advanced degree in psychology, one to two years of professional experience and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.
While entry-level jobs in psychology with a bachelor’s degree are rare, the degree can provide a solid foundation for continued education. Psychology graduate students are not required to earn their undergrad in psychology, but it is an excellent way for students to get their feet wet in the field before committing to more schooling.
If you’re interesting in pursuing a career as a psychologist, you can start by earning your psychology degree online. Brescia University offers a fully online bachelor’s program in the field that can lay the foundation for your new career.
Established in 1950, Brescia University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution founded in the Ursuline tradition of personal and social transformation through education. With the advent of BUonline, Brescia brings accredited undergraduate and graduate programs to students across the nation. Brescia’s commitment to a student-centered environment rewards students who seek success through meaningful careers and service to others.