A career in mental health might be perfect for you. Learning how to become a child psychologist might be just what you need. There are many types of mental health professionals and this is one of the options.
If you prefer to work with children and adolescents, becoming a child psychologist is a great option. This type of career can be very rewarding. Let’s look at the job duties of a child psychologist and how you can become one.
Job Duties of a Child Psychologist
As a child psychologist, you will help children and adolescents with their mental health needs. You will likely help them cope with family issues, such as divorce, moving, or lasting a loved one. This type of career may also include working with those suffering from learning disabilities or severe mental illness.
Some of the disorders you might help patients work through include:
- Adjustment disorders
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
As a child psychologist, you will look at many different symptoms. You will need to diagnose each child the best you can and treat them properly. Your expertise will likely include performing psychological tests, too.
How To Become a Child Psychologist in 6 Steps
Step #1 – Complete High School
Not only do you want to complete high school, but you want to have a high GPA. The better your GPA, the better chances you have of getting into a good bachelor’s degree program. Of course, it can also help to score high on the SAT and ACT. With the right test prep program, you can gain a higher score.
Step #2 – Complete Your Bachelor’s Degree Program
When you choose to become a child psychologist, you will want to get a bachelor’s degree in General Psychology or Counseling. It can also help to take courses more specifically for child psychology if offered.
If you get a psychology degree, you will likely need to take liberal arts courses and science courses. This major will include classroom learning, laboratory work, and research work. These are all skills you will need in graduate school.
If you choose a counseling major, you will take coursework in communications and social theory. You will gain theoretical knowledge of human development, along with cultural awareness.
Some of the types of courses you will need to take include:
- Child development
- Behavioral psychology
- General psychology
- Research methods
- Theories of personality
- Abnormal psychology
- Social sciences
- Family interventions
- Child and adolescent psychopathology
- Trauma and crisis
These types of courses and others will likely be a part of your degree.
Step #3 – Get your Graduate Degree
You will need to do well enough in your undergraduate work to get into a good graduate degree program. A master’s or doctoral degree will likely be required to work as a child psychologist.
If you choose to get a master’s degree, you will be able to work as a mental health counselor. However, you won’t be able to perform psychological tests. This will require you to get a Ph.D. or a Psy.D if you want to perform these types of tests.
A doctorate degree will allow you to skip the master’s degree program. It will allow you to gain access to more job opportunities, as well. It will take five to seven years to complete a doctoral program.
Those choosing to get a master’s degree will be able to complete it in two or three years. Both a Master of Science and a Master of Arts are available.
Step #4 – Complete an internship
You will likely need to complete an internship or a practicum as a part of your graduate program. This is especially true with doctoral programs. It’s likely going to be mandatory.
You will be able to gain some experience as you complete your internship or practicum, as well. This may take a year or longer, depending on the state.
Step #5 – Get Your License
You will need to get your license to become a child psychologist, as well. Usually, you will need to be a licensed clinical psychologist or a licensed psychologist. It may depend on your state.
Regardless, you will need to complete your degree, practical experience, and pass the written exam. The Associate of State and Provincial Psychology Board will administer the exam.
Step #6 – Become Board-Certified
If you want to become board-certified, you can go into a postdoctoral fellowship program in child psychology. This will allow you to become board-certified. It will likely last one or two years and will prepare you for the administer examination from the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABCCAP)
You will need to complete your doctorate degree first. Then, you will need to become licensed. After you become licensed, you will need to complete a fellowship or internship. This will likely take one or two years. Before you can take the exam, you will also need two years of post-internship experience.
After you pass the exam, you will become board-certified as a child psychologist.
Types of Child Psychologists
If you want to become a child psychologist, you should know the different types. This profession includes many specialties including:
- Clinical Child Psychology – When you go into this field, you will work with children by assessing, diagnosing, and treating them with developmental and psychological disorders. Some of the common positions found in this specialty include Clinical Child Therapists, Research Professionals, and Licensed Child Psychologists.
- School Psychology – As a school psychologist, you will work with children to address their mental health needs. This type of child psychologist works in a school or an educational environment. Some of the common positions include School Counselors, School Therapists, and Certified School Psychologists.
- Abnormal Child Psychology – Treating atypical issues in children will be a big part of your job in this specialty. You will work with children that have been physically abused, emotionally abused, or have struggled with another type of trauma. Some of the common positions in this specialty include Behavioral Health Professionals, Mental Health Professionals, Abnormal Child Psychology Professors.
- Educational Psychology – If you go into educational psychology, you will focus on the learning and teaching processes in the schools. You might help to suggest changes to the curriculum and classes. Some of the common positions in this field include Educational Design Consultants, Programs Implementation Coordinators, and Programs Assessment Specialists.
- Adolescent Psychology – This specialty includes working with pre-teen and teenage patients. You will provide therapeutic methods and behavior modifications to help your patients. Some of the common job positions include Attending Psychologists, Adolescent Therapists, and Licensed Counseling Psychologists.
- Developmental Child Psychology – In this specialty, you will work to gain a better understanding of children’s behavior. Some of the common positions include Art Therapists, Research Professionals, and Developmental Child Psychology Professors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Child Psychologist
How much can I earn as a child psychologist?
Your salary as a child psychologist will depend on the specialty you choose. According to Indeed.com, if you choose to become a school psychologist, you will earn an average of $66,487 per year. However, if you choose to become a Clinical Psychologist, you can earn an average of $99,241 per year.
How long will it take me to become a child psychologist?
It will depend on the degree program you choose. All child psychologists will need to complete a bachelor’s degree. This will take four years. After completing this degree, you can either go into a master’s program or a doctoral program.
A master’s program will require two or three more years, while a doctoral program requires four to six years. It will likely take six to 12 years to complete your education to become a child psychologist.
After you complete your education, you may need another year or two for a fellowship or internship.
Where will I work as a child psychologist?
A child psychologist will work in a doctor’s office, hospital, or school, in most cases. Some may work for a government center. You can also open your own private practice.
Are child psychologists in high demand?
Yes, the projected growth for this career is about 14% over the next ten years.
What is the difference between a child psychologist and a child therapist?
As a child psychologist, you will likely work with a psychiatrist that can prescribe medication, when necessary. A child therapist, on the other hand, will help children work through emotions to solve their issues.
There are many good reasons to go into a career as a child psychologist. If you want to help children with their mental health, this is the right career for you. It will take many years of education to become a child psychologist.
Before you decide on this career or any other career, make sure you understand what your job will include. Learn how to become a child psychologist and make sure it’s the right career for you. The last thing you want to do is choose a career you don’t really like or that doesn’t fit you properly.
To become a child psychologist you need a Master’s degree, and pass the National Psychology Licensing Exam, and complete two years of supervised clinical or counseling experience