What is Developmental and Child Psychology?
Developmental and child psychology is the study of factors that affect mental growth and development of children and how to identify and remedy them. Psychologists and developmental specialists will work with children and parents to ensure that their child develops the appropriate skills by the correct age. Individuals will typically work from schools or private practices, though employment in various local, state or federal agencies is possible. Individuals having pursues higher levels of education may pursue careers in policy, research or education.
A degree in developmental and child psychology prepares an individual with knowledge and skills necessary to work with children using the methods developed through psychology. Students studying child psychology will have to learn about how internal and external factors can affect a child; hinder his or her development and how to work through such issues in order to aid the child. Though bachelor's degrees are available in developmental and child psychology, a minimum of a masters degree is required to work as in child development and a doctorate degree is required to work as a child psychologist.
Individuals may choose development and child psychology as their focus when pursuing a graduate level degree as it is one of the many specializations that psychology offers. Programs in development and child psychology will often have a research component, often in a clinical setting and under the supervision of an experienced and practicing psychologist. It is during this time that the student will learn how to apply treatments and put together research proposals, as well as learn the methodologies used to conduct such proposals. Additionally, students will find that their education will delve deeper into the issues related to developmental and child psychology and less so with related fields.
Courses in developmental and child psychology may include:
- Crisis Intervention
- Psychology of Addictive Behaviors
- Behavioral and Emotional Assessment
Individuals choosing to enter the field of developmental and child psychology must obtain licensure from their state once graduated. The process for getting a license will vary by state, so it is important to research your state's requirements. The most common requirements will require graduation from an accredited program, a minimum number of supervised hours and an exam to demonstrate knowledge and competency.
Child psychologists have several options when looking for work. Schools often employ developmental and child psychologists, as do various government agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Individuals may eventually open their own practice, or with other private organizations providing mental health services. Child psychologists will be working with emotionally distraught children and must exercise patience and compassion. Developmental and child psychologists must also be able to manage parent's expectations, offer support and education regarding treatment and therapy.
Salary and Related Fields
The average salary for a child psychologist can vary $66,000 - $89,000 per year. Job growth is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade due to increased interest in child development and increased understanding of how various factors may affect growth and how they may be remedied become more concrete. Individuals with higher levels of education will earn more, as will professionals working in large urban centers or highly populated areas.
Individuals interested in developmental and child psychology may also be interested in psychology, school psychology, and clinical psychology.
For more information, check out our Career Guide in Psychology on the MatchCollege blog.