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Child Psychologist

Education and Training: Doctoral degree in Psychology
Average Salary: $72,540 per year
Job Outlook: Fair

Child psychologists are psychologists who specialize in counseling children, often helping them to cope with issues in their daily lives during talk therapy sessions. These sessions may take place either one on one with the therapist or include other members of the child’s family. In their clinical role, child psychologists assess and interpret individual behavior using scientific methods to form diagnoses. As needed they create plans of treatment for mental disorders.

Depending on the child psychologist’s employer, they might report on a child’s progress with doctors, parents, teachers or the court. Child psychologists often work for themselves in private practice, or are employed by schools, hospitals or even family courts.

Education and Training Requirements

Aspiring child psychologists should study psychology as an undergraduate and earn a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as graduate psychology programs require students to have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or, as a substitute, to complete a significant amount of coursework in psychology and the sciences.
Psychologists need to complete a Doctoral degree (PhD) in Psychology as well as state licensure. The doctoral degree generally takes five years of study as well as the completion of a dissertation or comprehensive examinations. However, child psychologists who work in schools may opt to earn an educational specialist degree in school psychology instead. This graduate degree generally takes three years to complete.

For licensure, candidates apply need to apply in the state they wish to practice in, complete an approved internship, and pass an examination.

Getting the Job

Child psychologists need a PhD in Psychology and state licensure. Good recommendations from their time spent at approved internships can help candidates in securing a job.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The employment outlook for child psychologists is fair. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts average growth in the number of psychologist positions, including those in schools and hospitals.

Child psychologists don’t necessarily have a natural path for advancement. However, they may wish to go into private practice, teach child psychology at a university, or head a department at a hospital.

Working Conditions and Environment

Child psychologists typically work seated in their own offices where they receive their patients or clients. They are in frequent contact with others, many of whom may be unhappy or unstable, but child psychologists typically work alone. In some cases, though, they may work as part of a team. The job is not stressful per se, but child psychologists must be emotionally stable and strong enough to handle helping others deal with their problems on a daily basis.

Child psychologists who work in private practice can set their own hours, while those who work in schools must typically keep a school schedule. Child psychologists who work in family courts often have a standard work schedule and those who work in hospitals must be available to work varying shifts, which may include weekends or evenings.

Salary and Benefits

Child psychologists earn an average salary of $72,540 per year, but most earn between $39,010 and $108,670 per year. Child psychologists who work in healthcare and employment services tend to earn the most. Those who work in private practice often have low salaries until they build up a solid roster of clients.

Where to Go for More Information

American Board of Professional Psychology
600 Market St., Ste. 300
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 537-8031

American Psychological Association
750 First St. NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-5500

National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Highway, Ste. 402
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-0270

Society for Research in Child Development
2950 S. State St., Ste, 401
Ann Arbor MI 48104
(734) 926-0600

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