Getting Your Graduate Degree in Child Psychology
As we age, the changes in our outward appearances are easy to see. The changes in our brain development are less visible, but no less dramatic. If you find the relationship between aging and brain function fascinating, a career in child psychology or developmental psychology is an ideal choice for you.
As psychologists continue to strive to understand brain development over the course of the human lifetime, the study of child psychology has gradually expanded to include adult behavior as well. Because of this broadening focus, child psychology is now contained within a larger category known as developmental psychology. Developmental psychologists study behavioral differences between adults and children.
Since developmental psychology is comprehensive in the study of human development, psychologists in this field usually specialize in a specific life stage. Child psychology is an example of this. Other phases include infancy, adolescence, adulthood and old age.
Training Programs in Child Psychology
A master degree in child psychology or developmental psychology will train students in basic theories, research methods and give them in-depth knowledge in the areas of language development, personality and social behavior. A doctoral degree revolves around research, and students will be expected to make innovative contributions to the study of human development.
A child psychologist or developmental psychologist can either earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). The main difference between these degrees is that a PsyD emphasizes clinical training, while a PhD usually indicates more research.
Salary and Earnings
The starting salary for developmental psychologists is approximately $40,000. However, this is only a general guideline of what to expect, since your actual earning potential is based on a number of factors, including: education level, years of experience, geographic location, job title and description, and more. The following chart provides some guidelines for how work experience can affect developmental psychologists' salaries:
|Degree Level||Years of Experience||Average Yearly Salary|
|Doctoral degree||1 - 4 years||$50,485|
|Doctoral degree||5 - 9 years||$67,200|
|Doctoral degree||10 - 19 years||68,000|
Your place of employment can also have a dramatic affect on your salary level. For instance, developmental psychologists in private practice earn the highest salaries, often exceeding $90,000 per year.
Job Outlook for Developmental Psychology
As a graduate with a master in child psychology or developmental psychology, you may find career opportunities in academic settings as a school psychologist. With a PhD in developmental psychology, you will find opportunities in teaching and conducting research at universities or colleges. You could also set up a private practice, which will require certification from your state of residence.
Developmental psychologists find jobs in a variety of work settings, depending on their specialization and skills. Some of these settings include:
- Academic institutions such as universities and schools
- Research agencies
- Homes for the elderly
- Homeless youth institutions and teen shelters
- Hospitals and clinics
- Psychiatric settings
- Private practice
Take the First Step
Developmental psychology is a fascinating field that allows you to observe human behavior throughout the phases of life. Find schools that offer degrees in child psychology and developmental psychology, and take the first step toward a new career.