What Does a Child Psychologist Do?

What They Do

Child psychology refers to the treatment of a wide range of issues and disorders that affect children and their families. Job duties for child psychologists include administering tests, conducting research, and engaging in therapy sessions with individuals, families, and groups. Child psychologists work in private practices, schools, hospitals, and government agencies.

The emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders that affect children are often treated differently than adults. Typically, a child psychologist works with clients on a one-on-one basis in order to build trust and talk candidly. In many cases, a child’s caregivers or other important individuals (e.g. teacher, pediatrician) are involved in the treatment process, making child and family psychology an important skill for graduates.

Some child psychologists practice in clinical environments where they work directly with their clients. Other child psychologists work in research positions within academic, government, or private institutions. Some child psychologists who work in schools focus on how behavioral and mental disorders affect learning. They may help students address their problems, implement performance plans, and provide counseling for teachers and guardians. Child psychologists have the ultimate goal of coordinating the care and recovery of children with these disorders.

Career Growth

The job prospects for psychologists are promising over the next several years, which includes careers for those with child psychology degrees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for psychologists will grow 8% by 2030, which will add an average of 13,500 jobs per year.

The overall employment of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists is projected to grow due to the demand for psychological services in schools, education organizations, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies. Besides psychologists who were self-employed, the largest employers of psychologists in 2020 were elementary and secondary schools at the local, state, and private levels.

Salary Potential

According to the BLS, the average pay for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists was $79,820 in 2020. Those who work in elementary and secondary schools earned $77,560. Most psychologists in clinics, government, industry, or schools work full-time schedules during regular business hours. Child and family psychologists who have their own practice can set their own hours.

Education Required

Becoming a child psychologist requires training to administer tests that help to evaluate, assess, and diagnose the issues and disorders of children. A great starting point for any individual wishing to pursue a child psychology career is to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. This program gives students the foundation in psychology needed to pursue graduate education and career goals.

In most states, a clinical and counseling psychologist needs to hold either a Ph.D. in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. Professionals who earn graduate degrees such as a Master of Education in School Counseling or Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling are also able to work with children. Certification or licensure is required to practice, and requirements vary by state.