How To Become A Child Psychologist

Child Psychology Degree

How To Become A Child Psychologist

Introduction To Getting A Child Psychology Degree

Choosing the right specialty for psychology can be tough, especially if you want to help everyone regardless of their age, gender and nationality. Some of the specialties in psychology that one can choose from are clinical psychology, consumer psychology, community psychology, educational psychology, forensic psychology and more! However, if you have the heart to help and want to work with children, then Child Psychology is the right suit and degree for you!

Childhood is often one of the simplest phases in one’s life; yet, it plays an important factor in what an individual might become in the future. In line with this, many scholars argue that most people’s childhood had influenced them to what they have become in their adulthood.

Child psychology is also sometimes referred to as child development. Basically, this is a study that deals with the psychological processes faced by infants, toddlers, children and adolescents in their social context. However, child psychology can be categorized as a recent study. Sir Charles Darwin was the one who initiated this field in 1840. It is said that Sir Darwin recorded the growth and development of his own children. Some of the other notable individuals who ventured in this field are William Preyer, G., Stanley Hall, Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and Jean Piaget.

Subsequently, being a child psychologist is not an easy job, it can be exhausting and rigorous at times but one thing is for sure – it is a rewarding field. Seeing someone overcome his or her trauma and other problems through your help is indeed fulfilling and fun.

On the other hand, since childhood can be pivotal in one’s life, a child psychologist is an important job in our society. They specifically address the needs of children when it comes to their mental, learning problems and social-emotional well-being.

In a student’s quest in learning how to become a psychologist, they begin to learn the need to study the scientific process.

Child psychologists are armed with scientific and research based knowledge in addressing social-emotional, cognitive-intellectual, and physical-health, development and functioning problems of children. Consequently, they also employ personality tests, intelligence tests, and experimental methods in improving the well-being and lives of their clientele. There are varieties of treatment methods a child psychologist can choose from when treating children. These treatments are somewhat similar to what is used to adults. Therapy, however, is one of the most popular and used treatment, specifically the cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy is usually calibrated to help children learn to solve their own problems.

Accordingly, a licensed child psychologist will face little trouble in finding job or employment. Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) who deal with children typically has or hires a child psychologist to accompany them. Also, schools, child welfare offices and orphanages have a resident or visiting child psychologist.
Hospitals and mental health clinics also have a high demand for child psychologists. More so, a child psychologist may opt to open his or her own clinic. This way, the child psychologist will have enough time for each of his or her clientele.

What Does A Child Psychologist Do?

Generally, child psychologists treat interrelated biological, psychological and social troubles of children and adolescents. These usually are biological vulnerabilities, emotional and developmental problems, significant mental disorders, cognitive deficits, trauma and loss, health related problems, stress and coping related to developmental change, and problems in social context and socializing.

Consequently, after deciding to venture the field of child psychology, another tough decision follows. Child psychology also has sub-specialties you can choose from. You can either become a clinical child psychologist, developmental child psychologist, abnormal child psychologist, adolescent psychologist, school child psychologist, or an educational child psychologist. Whichever you choose, one thing is for sure – you are going to work with children and/or with adolescents!

These aforementioned specializations typically determine whether a child psychologist will deal more with research or direct service to children or both. We will discuss in detail each sub-specialty to help you decide and know more about each sub-specialty.

Clinical Child Psychologist

A clinical child psychologist is one of the most common and popular choices among other specializations. However, it is important to note that a clinical child psychologist typically works directly with children. They specifically provide assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. A clinical child psychologist specializes in targeting problems such as short-term issues, long term ones and other minor ones. There are accredited online psychology degree programs that specialize in child development.

The most common problems that they encounter are anxiety, somatic complaints and depression. However, it may also be behavioral problems such as aggression, poor social relationships and delinquency. These problems are usually the result of divorce, death of a loved one, phobias, neglect and abuse, and many more. A clinical child psychologist is typically knowledgeable in evaluation. They also create and tailor therapy approach in accordance with the age of their clientele. Occasionally, a referral to an Orange County detox center is made.

Developmental Child Psychologist

Just like clinical child psychologists, developmental child psychologists also work directly with children. However, their approach tends to lean more in research base and in the life development of the child or adolescent. Also, it is important to note that the result of their research is vital in designing and or evaluating programs.

Developmental child psychologists also specialize in human development such as emotional, language, moral and cognitive development. Furthermore, their research is frequently used by mental health institutions and other professionals. Sometimes, their researches are also put into college psychology books.

Abnormal Child Psychologist

Abnormal child psychology focuses in psychopathology, sociopathy, mood disorders, depression, and anxiety. These aforementioned problems are often encountered with children who experiences or experienced emotional and physical abuse.

Children who were diagnosed with these problems do not recover in a short period of time. Hence, it is normal for an abnormal child psychologist to work with children with these problems for years. They also work hand-in-hand with other medical professionals, teachers, school administrators and more. Since these aforementioned problems have long term effects, an abnormal child psychologist also talks with the parents and/or guardians of these children. Abnormal Child Psychology often goes hand-in-hand with forensic psychology.

Adolescent Psychologist

An Adolescent psychologist works with people who are usually 12-18 years old. However, they occasionally work with clientele who are not in this age bracket. These psychologists are expert in dealing behavioral and psychological problems of adolescents. These include anger management, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and learning problems. In Southern California, an Orange County therapist often specializes in working with children.

School Child Psychologist

A school child psychologist handles and specializes on the education and mental health of children in school. Hence they are knowledgeable in weaving psychology and education perfectly. School psychologist usually employs IDEA or Individuals with Disability Education Act in determining and assessing children who needs special attention or Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Consequently, it is also the role of school psychologist to develop and implement school programs like anti-bullying, crisis response and many more. Although they work directly with children, school child psychologist also collaborates with teachers, school administrators and personnel to find the best environment and also prevention and intervention for children in school.

Educational Child Psychologists

Educational child psychologists are knowledgeable and expert in learning and teaching. They incorporate these to other areas like child development, individual difference, neuroscience, assessment, instruction and curriculum to understand how their clientele learn and process information, especially in school or in their education.

Subsequently, psychologists in this field may focus on normal learner, gifted and disabled children. Education child psychologists also dwell on how environmental factors, like socioeconomic status and parenting influence learning process of children.

Consequently, a school psychologist and educational psychologist’s job often overlap. However, the main difference between the two is that, the latter’s job is more involved in research. The result of their research is usually used to enhance and evaluate teaching styles and methods both for advanced learners and struggling learners.

Child Psychologiy Schools

Steps Involved To Become A Child Psychologist

In order to become child psychologist there several hurdles one needs to clear. There are five steps that you can follow. First is, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After successfully clearing this hurdle, you need to get a master’s degree in child psychology but some doctoral programs do not need this. Next, earn your doctorate in psychology! Don’t lose hope, two more steps then you are officially a child psychologist! Get your very own State license. And lastly earn a professional certification. These are just overview of the things that you will need. I will discuss in detail the blood bath that you will be going through!
Kidding aside, becoming a child psychologist is not easy. That is why, one need three things; a strong heart, patience and will.
Step 1: Bachelor’s Degree

In most instances, in order to become a child psychologist, you need a doctorate degree. However, the first crucial part to your doctorate journey is getting a bachelor’s degree from a good college or university.

Child psychology as a major course is rarely offered as a bachelor’s degree. The best option is to obtain a general psychology course. Many reputable schools now offer an online psychology degree. Psychology programs as a bachelor’s degree are quite popular. You can easily find this on a reputable college and university in the United States and in some online universities. It is important to note that a full accreditation is vital. If you want to become a child psychologist, it essential to verify the school you are eyeing for or all your efforts will be wasted for nothing. You can check this by looking whether the school is accredited by an agency tied with Department of Education or DOE. However, obtaining a bachelor’s degree is not a guarantee that you will be accepted to a graduate program. Hence, you must strive to have and maintain a high GPA during your four years in your bachelor’s program.

Step 2: Master’s Degree

After earning your bachelor’s degree, next stop is to get your master’s. Consequently, some doctoral programs do not require a master’s and will accept bachelor’s degree. However, there is a catch; your undergraduate degree must be psychology. Hence, conducting a research on your desired doctoral program is necessary. Those who need to take a master’s degree have to choose between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science. Master of Science is more calibrated towards research. A master’s degree typically requires students to decide for their specialization.

Step 3: Doctoral Program

In entering at the doctoral level, another vital decision is made by th aspiring child psychologist. The student has to choose between a Doctoral Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. The more known and somewhat traditional is the Ph.D.. This is calibrated to those students who want a career in research. Psy.D. on the other hand is geared toward a professional practice. Also, at this level, one has to choose his or her specialization, for instance, clinical or child psychology. Those who are interested in clinical psychology have to take a follow up for their doctorate degree with a post-doctoral in child psychology.

It is important to note that students at doctorate programs usually have clinical internship as part of their units. These internships usually take one to two years to complete and are typically needed to take a state licensure.

Step 4: State Licensure

Consequently, all states in the United Sates require a licensure to practice as a psychologist, including child psychologists. However, every state’s licensing requirements and procedures are different. Hence, students are encouraged to know these requirements before studying. There are common requirements in state licensing in each State. These are: proof of doctoral degree that is recognized by the American Psychological Association or APA, completion of internship and required minimum hours (must be state approved) and lastly, successfully passing the EPP, AKA Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology.

Step 5: Professional Certificate

The last step towards a long journey to become a professional child psychologist is finally coming to an end! This step deals with earning a professional certification. In order to be eligible for this, one must be; doctorate graduate from an APA accredited school and program, licensed on their state of practice, completed the required number of year in internship both in doctorate and post internship and lastly passing the ABCCAP. This exam is administered by the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABCCAP).

How Long To Become A Child Psychologist?

As mentioned earlier, it takes patience, will and strong heart to become a child Psychologist plus time. However, it typically depends on the specialty chosen by the student. A bachelor’s degree usually last for four to five years. At this level, you are going to learn the basics and fundamentals of psychology. This will also help you enhance your knowledge and understanding of human behaviors, emotions and learning. A master’s degree takes less time, roughly around two to three years. However it usually depends on the student’s investment of time and effort. At this degree, you will learn a broad introduction to your chosen field of expertise.

Subsequently, a doctorate degree takes four to seven years to finish. Just like in master’s in depends on the time and effort invested by the student.
As pointed a while back, students may opt to venture in Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) or a combination of these two.

Associate Degree in Psychology

Psychology can also be taken as an associate degree; you can finish your Associate degree in roughly two years!

An Associate degree can be a great choice if you are not yet fully decided in which track to take, but, is certain to venture in psychology. Just like in master’s level, you may opt to undertake Associate program is psychology as either Science or Art.

If you choose to take Associate’s of Arts in Psychology, you will mostly encounter subjects on humanities.

However, if you opt for Associate’s of Sciences you will encounter more courses in math and science.

On the other hand, if you are planning to take advanced degrees, it is important to check if the classes in your Associate will be counted in your Bachelor’s degree or even Master’s. By doing so, you are saving both your time and money. It is also encouraged to check whether the school you’re eyeing is accredited by Department of Education and APA.

Online Child Psychology Degree

If you do not have the luxury of going to a campus based school, you can opt to study online. This is a trend that is becoming popular in the United States especially to those who are working. Consequently, one may also go for a hybrid program, a combination of base schooling and online schooling. An online psychology degree is becoming a more normalized path for college students.

Just like in regular school, online colleges and universities are now offering Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degree online! Some of these online colleges and universities also offer certificate or Associate programs. Some of these school are; Adams State College, Adler School of Professional Psychology, Alaska Pacific University, Amarillo College, Ashford University, Capella University and many more! These said schools also offer specialties, some of these are; Mental Health Counseling, School Psychology, Art Therapy, Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Geriatric Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Marriage and Family Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling and more.

The requirements in order to study online are quite the same to the “normal” procedure in applying for an Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degree. However, some school requires a personal appearance during enrollment and other does not.

Subsequently, although on the rise, trusting your education to an online platform is also quite risky. Here are some of the considerations that you may consider when choosing an online school, accreditation of your chosen school and program and access to resources and professors. You may also want to consider the availability of your internet connection. This is vital in this instance.

On the other hand, when looking for the right school, it is also important to ask the tuition fee, admission requirements, scheduling, specializations available and licensure of the institution.

The average time required in studying child psychology is quite the same to that of the “regular”. However, as constantly reiterated in the previous sections, it depends on the time invested of the student.

A Child Psychologist’s Working Hours and Conditions

The working hours of psychologists typically depend of their specialty but they usually follow the 9 am to 5 pm, Mondays to Fridays working hours and days. However, these tend to vary depending on the institution they are working and to their clientele.

Subsequently, since psychologists are quite in demand, they can work part-time or job sharing at times.

Psychologists work in different and many environments, some of these are hospitals, schools, prisons, rehabilitation units, university research departments, sports facilities, and more.

Child Psychologist Salary

Child Psychologist Salary

The child psychologist salary is influenced by varying reasons such as location, experience and employer. Licensed child psychologists with more experience usually have higher salaries. Moreover, a child psychologist practicing in an urban or metropolitan area will definitely make more than child psychologist in a rural area.

According to Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BSL), a clinical, counselling and school psychologist’s median annual salary is $87,735. However, it ranges from $78,140 to $99,819. However, according to the APA, a doctorate level psychologist can earn as much as $76,090 to $116,343 depending on his or her position.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job outlook for psychology is expected to increase by 19% until 2024. Hence, individuals who obtain a degree on this is expected to find jobs easily and pays well.

Child Psychologist with a Heart

Studying and earning a license for child psychology might be financially draining, tough and rigorous, but seeing children, adolescents and toddlers develop to their full potential is a sight to behold. This is a tiresome job but definitely fulfilling. Though, it might hurt you financially during your schooling, after years of practicing, it will reward you with all your efforts.

With all that being said, it is important to understand that psychology is more like a vocation rather than a job. However, choosing the right specialty that suits you will definitely help you.

If you have decided to take the next step and be a child psychologist after you read this, then, congratulations! You have a strong heart, will, and patience that will aid you to your journey to become a child psychologist!

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