What Careers are in Child Psychology?

Professional careers in child psychology are all but nonexistent for those who only have undergraduate degrees. However, a bachelor’s degree provides the foundation for future advanced coursework and employment. The most important thing is to find a program that provides courses in child psychology, counseling and development, according to the American Psychological Association. Master’s degrees in child psychology typically require two to three years of full-time study. A master of science is better suited to those who plan to work in research. Doctoral programs in clinical child psychology may take up to five years to complete. Regardless of the type of psychologist, all states require these professionals be licensed in order to practice.

Child Specialist

Child specialists provide services to pediatric patients and their families in order to support coping and adaptation to problems. They often work in health care environments such as inpatient pediatric clinics. Child specialists need to work independently and function as a contributing member of health care teams. They provide a healing, comfortable and child friendly environment. They provide education about interventional techniques for children and their families. They use their assessment skills to develop therapeutic care plans, communicate these to the team and follow up with patients on their progress. Most child specialists have a master’s degree in pediatric nursing, therapeutic recreation and child psychology or development. They must successfully complete internships under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist. They may also be required to sit for national certification exams.

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Autism Care Specialist

Autism care specialists are educators, psychologists and speech language pathologists. Their rewarding work involves helping children diagnosed with autism reach their full potential and maintain basic functionality. They work with behavior therapists and special education experts to help families and their children with autism learn, explore, socialize and grow. Most of their work consists of structured one-on-one interaction and instruction with children with autism spectrum. They work with their clients in their homes, at schools, in community settings and clinic centers. They provide observational data on the learning and developmental progress of their clients using technology solutions. They are supervised by credentialed professionals, such as Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). They need to be prepared to work in a collaborative environment that is flexible, client-based and research-driven.

Academic Researcher

Academic researcher’s responsibilities include administering neuropsychological, eye movement and other tests. They are also tasked with scoring cognitive and sensorimotor test data. Afterwards, they input data entry, conduct analyses and generate reports. They participate in lab meetings that focus on reviewing data and interpreting findings. They often work directly with clinical populations conducting psychological and neuropsychological testing. Most academic researchers go on to pursue clinical psychology programs, doctoral training in medical schools and cognitive neuroscience programs. Laboratory administration involves coordinating with research participants, traveling to sites and meeting with program managers to facilitate study objectives. They are responsible for the recruitment and scheduling of research participants. They work with research personnel for purchasing, upgrading and maintaining lab equipment. They disseminate clinical reports regarding neuropsychological, eye movement, sensorimotor and functional tests to relevant partners and organizations.

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Finally, early intervention specialists complete the initial intake, screening, eligibility determination and scheduling for clients. They work at schools to conduct tests, support clients and implement action plans. Other careers in child psychology include clinical therapist and special needs learning center directors.