Career and Job Search Guide

Developmental Psychologist

The field of developmental psychology can be separated into a variety of specialties. Some specialize in gerontology, infancy, or sociological factors affecting development.

This is one of the many draws of this field of psychology. Developmental psychologists not only focus on stages of human development, they also focus on factors, such as environmental conditions, that cause humans to change.

The following life stages are the primary focus of developmental psychologists:
  • Infancy
  • Adolescence
  • Various stages of Adulthood
Those pursuing careers in developmental psychology specializing in infancy and adolescence can find jobs in the following industries or agencies:
  • Child Abuse Shelters
  • Adoption Agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Curriculum Development Organizations
  • Universities
  • Children Advocate Non-profit Groups
  • Toy Development Companies
  • Welfare Agencies
Before deciding upon a specialty, it is important to know a little about each age group developmental psychologists focus on. Those focusing on adolescence will work with people in the stage between childhood and adulthood. This is a difficult time for most people since their bodies are undergoing constant changes, and many adolescents begin to experiment with sex, drugs, and alcohol. This can also be a difficult time socially because many adolescents must cope with depression, body image problems, and other emotional issues.

Adolescence specialists work closely with teenagers at suicide prevention centers, schools, and other facilities where troubled teenagers receive assistance. Many work with organizations that promote public awareness of important challenges facing teens.

Many developmental psychologists with expertise in adolescence can also specialize in childhood, infancy, and pregnancy and find jobs with organizations and companies working with people matching these criteria.

Those who decide to work with troubled teenagers can find jobs at the following facilities:
  • Alternative High Schools
  • Centers for Disabled Adolescents
  • Substance Abuse Recovery Facilities
  • Boarding Houses
  • Mental Health Facilities
  • Hospitals
In addition to adolescence psychologists, there is also demand for developmental psychologists specializing in adulthood since many young adults are involved with gangs, struggle with substance abuse, and engage in violent crime. As a result, many developmental psychologists can be found in correctional facilities and facilities where troubled young adults receive treatment and assistance.

Although more young adults struggle with substance abuse and participate in violent criminal behavior, middle-aged adults also struggle with a variety of problems, including divorce, job loss, and obesity. Developmental psychologists specializing in middle adulthood conduct university research, work in private practice, and collaborate with clinical psychologists to develop treatment strategies.

Because of increased life expectancy rates, many opportunities exist for developmental psychologists specializing in geriatrics and working with older adults.

Adults who want to avoid, or at least decrease health problems associated with aging must exercise and eat nutritious food. As a result, developmental psychologists consult with other professionals to set up programs for older adults to prevent health problems associated with aging.

Hospitals, convalescent centers, and non-profit organizations hire developmental psychologists to assist older people struggling with depression, chronic illness, substance abuse, memory loss, and other age related problems.