Child Psychologist

Child psychologists help adolescents struggling with mental and behavioral disorders, trama and depression. Child psychologists first observe how a child interacts with others and analyze their behavior patterns. They then determine the cause of their behavior and develop treatments to help them cope in a productive way. In severe cases, a child may even be placed on antidepressants or other mood altering medications.

In today's culture, divorce, abuse and domestic violence is all too common. Children involved any one of these devasting events can suffer from painful emotional trauma, which can result in depression, becoming withdrawn, violence towards themselves or others, or other anti-social behaviors. In these cases, child psychologists employ therapies, techniques and counseling to help children process their emotions in a healthy way, deal with the stress, and enjoy life.

Child psychologists provide a beneficial and necessary service to society. Suprisingly, there are many pre-school to elementary age children who struggle with depression on a regular basis. Children struggling with depression or other mental disorders who go untreated often carry their problems into their adult lives, the lives of their children, the work place and those they associate with. The seeds of substance abuse, depression, suicide and other anti-social behavior exhibited as an adult are often planted years earlier during childhood. Child psychologists break cycles of mental and behavioral disorder and enable children to grow into well adjusted adults and productive members of society.

Child psychologists provide therapy in clinics, they work in schools, teach and conduct research at universities. There are many career opportunities available for child psychologists, but more importantly, the work they provide is gratifying. It helps children deal with difficult problems and achieve happiness and live full and productive lives.

Education and Training Requirements
Child psychology is not a field for those adverse to school. To become a child psychologist usually requires a minimum of 6 to 9 years of university level education after earning a high school diploma. The first step to becoming a psychologist is to earn a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited four-year college or university. While most graduate programs in psychology don't require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree in a specific subject, earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, a closely related discipline, or completing pre-requisite courses in human development, psychology, child development and statistics is recommended if you want to attend a good graduate school. Scoring well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is also necessary, as admission to top graduate psychology programs is quite competitive. Internships, volunteer work and research experience will also go along way to increasing your ability to get into top psychology programs.

In become licensed to practice psychology, most states require candidates to hold a graduate degree. Those seeking to practice child psychology in the private sector or work at the university level must hold either a PhD or PsyD. A PhD is psychology is research-based degree that requires candidates to complete a disertation. The PsyD is a practise-based degree that often does not have a research requirement. To practice psychology in an elementary or secondary education enviroment requires a master's degree. However, other specialized classroom and clinical training may be required required by the state or school.

Among child psychologists, school psychologist is one of fastest growing job sectors. Nationally certified school psychologists must hold a master's degree (not PhD or PsyD) and complete an accredited 3-year psychology program and 1,200 hour internship (usually at a school). They must also pass the Praxis II exam in school psychology. Many school psychologists eventually go on to earn a doctorate degree in psychology to enhance their career opportunities.


Most accredited psychology programs also require students to complete a 1-year supervised APA accredited internship following the completion of their PhD or PsyD. This is also a licensing requirement in many states.

Licensing and/or Certification

Licensing guidelines in most states now require licensure applicants to obtain a PhD or PsyD from a psychology program accredited by the American Psychology Association (ASA). They must also pass the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology. You'll want to check with your state psychology board for specific licensure requirements.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Child psychologists with 5 or more years of experience will be qualified to obtain supervisory and managerial positions in treatment centers, hospitals and mental health facilities. Seasoned psychologists often set up their own private practices, become consultants, professors or researchers. While setting up a private practice is risky and demanding, it can also be very rewarding. Psychologists in private practice have more flexible schedules, freedom to focus on their clinical area of preference and are some of the top paid professionals within their discipline.

Salary and Benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2012 the median salary for psychologists was just over $69,200 a year, with the top 10 percent of all psychologists making over $110,000 a year and the bottom 10 percent making less than $39,000 a year.

However, there are several factors that influence how much a child psychologist will make over their lifetime. Child psychologists with a doctorate degree (PhD or PsyD) typically make 50% than those with only a master's degree. Increases in salary also go hand in hand with experience. With over ten years of experience a child psychologist can expect to make between $80,000 and $100,000 annually. The highest paid child psychologists are those running successful private practices. The lowest paid typically work in elementary and secondary education settings.

Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for clinical, counseling and school psychologists will be about 12% between 2012 and 2022 - much faster than the average 6% for all other occupations. Demand for clinical psychologists will be strongest in large population centers, in elementary schools and with autistic youth. More and more interdisciplinary health care teams are now including child psychologists among their ranks, spuring additional demand and job growth for these professionals.

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked School Psychologist the number one job in its list of "Best Social Services Jobs". Demand for school psychologists is expected to be stable and strong through 2022. In fact, over the next ten years over 16,400 new school psychologist jobs are expected to be added in schools and academic institutions across the United States. Much of this growth will be due to an increasing need for schools to assist special needs students and those with learning disabilities and behavioral issues. Where school psychologists once focused on assisting concerned parents and teachers with academic struggles, today they review tests, provide specialized services, diagnose mental disorders, identify learning disabilities and decide if a child qualifies for special services.

The highest paid school psychologists work in major metropolitan areas in California, including (but not limited to) Vallejo, Salinas, San Luis Obispo and Madera.

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