Psychology Careers That Involve Working With Children

There are a number of dynamic, rewarding careers in the field of psychology that involve working with children. The professionals in these fields are devoted to the mental, educational, and social well-being of the children they work with, and are able to make a significant difference through their work. If you're a psychologist and love working with kids, you'll want to consider one of these career paths:

Child Psychologist
Child psychologists can be found in a number of professional environments, such as schools, hospitals, research settings, and private practices. They work with children, assessing their psychological, social, behavioral, and emotional needs, and work towards fulfilling these needs. Depending on the setting, child psychologists may diagnose and treat mental disorders in children, or they may help children overcome behavioral problems and thrive in social situations.

Education Required: In general, child psychologists need to have a doctorate degree in psychology, although there are some jobs available to those with a master's degree.

Salary: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual salary for child psychologists is $64,000.

School Psychologist
School psychologists work closely with other professionals in the education system--teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents--to help children thrive not only emotionally and psychologically, but also academically. The work of a school psychologist involves assessing and diagnosing learning problems, offering counseling to children, designing behavioral interventions, and fostering supportive learning environments.

Education Required: School psychologists are typically required to hold a specialist degree in school psychology, known as an Ed.S. degree. These degrees require two years of graduate-level coursework, as well as a supervised one-year internship. In some states, however, it is possible to become licensed as a school psychologist with only a master's degree.

Salary: The median annual salary for school psychologists is $71,070.

Developmental Psychologist
Developmental psychologists work to understand the ways in which humans grow and change over the course of their lifetime. Some developmental psychologists specifically focus on old age or lifelong development, while others devote their time to studying childhood development. Their job is to ask questions regarding the growth and development of children, and to conduct research to find answers to those questions. How do children develop a sense of morality? How are language skills acquired? How do childhood events affect relationships later in life? Some developmental psychologists, instead of conducting research, spend their time working directly with children. They assess and diagnose potential developmental delays and disabilities, and design interventions to overcome them.

Education Required: A Ph.D. or Psy.D. in developmental psychology is required to become a developmental psychologist.

Salary: The median annual salary for developmental psychologists is $80,051.

School Counselor
School counselors provide counseling services to students, offering support not only academically, but also with personal, social, and career-oriented issues as well. School counselors help students choose classes and colleges, and offer assistance with exploring potential career paths. They also work with students who need help with personal issues or social conflicts, and they are a resource for young people who are seeking to develop new skills.

Education Required: School counselors must hold a master's degree from an accredited program. They must also acquire a certain amount of clinical experience under the supervision of their professor or mentor, and must complete state licensing examinations with passing scores.

Salary: The median annual salary for a school counselor is $57,800.

Family Therapist
Family therapists help families who are struggling with behavioral, emotional, social, or cognitive problems. In some cases, these problems may only be afflicting one member of the family, but their repercussions are affecting the family as a whole. The family therapist offers therapeutic services, such as family counseling, diagnoses, and treatments and interventions which are intended to restore family harmony and well-being.

Education Required: The requirements for family therapists vary state to state. These professionals commonly hold a doctorate degree in psychology or a master's degree in social work. There are also state-specific licensing and certification requirements which all family therapists must fulfill.

Salary: The median annual salary for family therapists is $45,720.

Animal-Assisted Therapist
Animal-assisted therapists help people who are struggling with a wide range of psychological issues through the intervention of keeping pets and interacting with animals. This is a burgeoning field in psychology, and research is showing that this interaction with animals results in a number of significant benefits for the patients. Pets have been shown to improve emotional, social, cognitive, and physical functioning, and have alleviated the suffering experienced by patients in a wide range of settings. Animal-assisted therapists work with individuals of all ages, but some specialize in working with children. Animal-assisted therapy has proven to be particularly effective for children struggling with developmental issues and autism spectrum disorders.

Education Required: Animal-assisted therapists must hold at least a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field, such as social work, education, or nursing. Therapists with a graduate degree in counseling, occupational therapy, psychology, or social work will have an easier time finding jobs and will earn a higher salary. In addition to these degrees, many colleges and universities offer specific certification courses in animal-assisted therapy.

Salary: The salary of these therapists vary widely. Earnings depend on the therapist's credentials, training, and field of employment. The median annual salary of an animal-assisted psychologist, for instance, is $64,140, while the salary of an animal-assisted physical therapist is $72,790.

Art Therapist
Art therapists help patients who are struggling with mental disorders and psychological distress, specifically by using art as an intervention. Art becomes an avenue for the patient to express his or her emotional and psychological difficulties, thereby alleviating the suffering and enhancing their own self-mastery skills. Art therapists combine the creative, intuitive process of art with the scientific principles of psychotherapy to foster mental and emotional well-being and healing in their patients. Art therapy is particularly effective for children struggling with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or developmental delays.

Education Required: The requirements for becoming an art therapist vary state to state, but most states require these professionals to hold a license to provide psychotherapy services. To obtain this license, therapists typically need to earn a doctorate in psychology or a master's in social work or counseling first. Additionally, professional art therapists must become registered or licensed through the Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB).

Salary: Art therapists' earnings vary greatly, depending on education, geographic location, and experience. The median salary for these professionals may be as low as $29,000 a year, or as high as $63,000 a year.

Social Worker
Social workers may work in a wide range of settings, and with clients of all ages and backgrounds. However, a significant percentage of these professionals specialize in working with children. These social workers help children struggling with behavior problems, connect young people with relevant services in the community, and act as advocates for children who otherwise have none. Social workers may also arrange adoptions and foster care, help young single parents, and provide counseling to children.

Education Required: Social workers must hold at least a bachelor's degree in social work. Social workers with master's degrees, however, will have a much easier time finding jobs.

Salary: The median annual salary for a social worker with a bachelor's degree is $30,000, while the median annual salary for a social worker with a master's degree is $45,000.

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