A child psychologist is a type of psychologist who studies the mental, social and emotional development of children. Typically, child psychologists look at development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Some of the major topics of interest in this field of psychology include genetics, language development, personality, gender roles, cognitive development, sexual development and social growth.

Child psychology is one of the many branches of psychology and one of the most frequently studied specialty areas. This particular branch focuses on the mind and behavior of children from prenatal development through adolescence. Child psychology deals not only with how children grow physically, but with their mental, emotional and social development as well.

The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering both child and adolescent psychology and psychiatry. It is the official journal of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (formerly the “Association of Child Psychology and Psychiatry”) and is published on their behalf by Wiley-Blackwell. From 1960 to 2004 it was entitled the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines.

While there are some opportunities in the field of child psychology with a master’s degree, most people will find that job options are more plentiful at the doctoral-level. There are some programs that offer a degree in child psychology, but many choose to earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in either clinical or counseling psychology.Salaries for child psychologists can vary based upon geographic location, sector of employment, educational background and years of experience in the field. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the median salary for child psychologists is just over $64,000 a year, with salaries ranging from a low of $37,900 to a high of almost $150,000.

Developmental psychologists study the human growth and development that occurs throughout the entire lifespan. This includes not only physical development, but also cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth.The specific tasks performed by developmental psychologists may vary somewhat based on the specialty area in which they work. Some developmental psychologists focus on working with a specific population, such as developmentally delayed children. Others specialize in studying a particular age range, such as adolescence or old age. Some of the tasks that a developmental psychologist might do include:

  • Evaluating children to determine if they have a developmental disability.
  • Investigating how language skills are acquired.
  • Studying how moral reasoning develops in children.
  • Exploring ways to help elderly individuals remain.

While there are limited employment options at the master’s degree level, those holding a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Developmental Psychology will find the greatest range of employment opportunities. Individuals with a doctorate degree can teach at the university level, and can be employed in private practices, hospital, mental health clinics and rehabilitation centers. In most case, students start by earning an undergraduate degree in psychology. They may then continue on to earn a master’s degree followed by a doctorate, or they may go straight from an undergraduate degree into a Ph.D. program.

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