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How to Become a Child Psychologist

Puja Lalwani
The career of a child psychologist is highly rewarding - personally, professionally, and financially. Take a look at this guide on becoming one to make the most of this rewarding career.
With the amount of stress that little children are subjected to, due to increasing expectations from parents, peer pressure, divorce, etc. the need for child psychologists is vastly increasing. These are just a few instances where children may break down under pressure, but there are a lot more situations that can bring out some very distressing feelings, for which they need the help of a child psychologist.
Such a professional is someone who counsels children and helps them lead a normal life once again, but are not qualified to prescribe medication for any kind of psychological disorders.
They work with the parents of the children to ensure a method of treatment that will help children deal with feelings such as low self-esteem, depression, and discontent due to various situations. If you are someone who would like to help children in such endeavors, we give you guidelines regarding going about the process, here.

Educational Requirements of a Child Psychologist

The sooner you make the decision to pursue this career, the quicker in life you will be done with the process. As such, the foundation is laid right from high school till you attain a doctoral degree in child psychology.

Step 1

Start by taking courses in science in high school that include biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Some high schools offer courses in psychology which you should take if you are keen on specializing in the field later in life. Courses in biology and chemistry enable you to understand the physical manifestations of mental trouble and vice versa.
Also take subjects such as art, literature, sociology, and history to relate to the humane aspect of psychology. It is important to have a GPA of 3.0-4.0 to be able to get into a good college. Make sure you work on your grades.

Step 2

Decide which college you would like to gain admission into, and start working on the requirements needed to be fulfilled by them. Some may require you to provide SAT or ACT scores along with your grades and other references. You may opt for a B.A (Bachelor's of Arts) in psychology, or a B.S. (Bachelor's of Science) in psychology.
While in college, ensure that you take a course in statistics that is essential for the purpose of research in the field of psychology. If you are offered a minor in child psychology during your undergraduate education, ensure that you take it.
While studying, enroll in some volunteer programs that allow you to work with children, to garner some experience for your specialization. By doing so you will also understand whether or not you are suited to become a child psychologist.

Step 3

Specialization in child psychology can be done only at the graduate level, i.e. after attaining a master's degree in the field. This includes classroom lectures along with internship and research. You may then go for a doctoral degree that includes a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. Program.
A Ph.D. places emphasis on research and practice in the field of psychology, whereas a Psy.D. places greater emphasis on clinical psychology. An internship is mandatory to attain licensure in becoming a clinical psychologist.

Step 4

In order to work as a psychologist, it is important that you are licensed by the state you wish to practice in, the requirements for which may differ among different states. A doctorate along with some kind of professional work experience is mandatory in most states, after which you are found eligible for the exam for licensure. You will have to pursue continuing education to be able to maintain this license to practice.

Step 5

To practice as a child psychologist, it is also important that you attain certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) or the National Association of School Psychologists. This certification will represent your specialization.
Here's a closer look into the salary of a child psychologist if you would like further information on the subject.
Child psychology is not only about achieving the right education. You have to be a sensitive and observant person to understand what is going through the tender mind of a child.
While a degree will train you in dealing with children, it is the development of these skills that will make you excellent at your job. Further, you need excellent communication skills as your entire job depends on this.
By educating yourself in the aforementioned manner and developing the necessary skills you can definitely become a great clinical psychologist who earns a good salary. Good luck!