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. Psychologists who work primarily with children administer tests, conduct research and engage 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 a minor client 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.

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 child psychologists and psychologists in general is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment will grow 19 percent by 2024, which will add around 32,500 jobs. Positions in schools will continue to increase because of the connection between mental health and learning. The greatest demand for psychological services is in schools, hospitals, mental health centers and social services agencies.

Salary Potential

The average salary for a psychologist is $72,580. Those who work in elementary and secondary schools earn $71,300. Individual and family services psychologists earn an average of $59,910. Psychologists who work in private practices can often set their own hours and work as independent consultants. In some cases, psychologists work nontraditional hours in order to accommodate clients.

Education Required

A child psychologist must be trained 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 career as a child psychologist 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.