What is a Developmental Psychologist?

Development PsychologyA developmental psychologist studies human development as it affects the mind, personality, emotions and thought. Development refers to the growth and changes experienced over the human lifespan. The field of developmental psychology relies much on sociology, education, anthropology, biology and anatomy, according to the American Psychological Association. Developmental psychologists study these areas when determining information about human growth over time.

How to Become a Developmental Psychologist

If this type of study appeals to you, you may wonder what is required to enter the profession. You will need at least a master’s degree, which you attain after four years of bachelor’s level study. Depending on the particular position you hope to attain, you may wish to pursue more specialty training or to go on for a doctorate. Much study is required.

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In order to practice as a psychologist, most states do have some sort of licensure requirement. You will need to do some research in order to determine the exact specifications for your particular state. You can usually learn more through your state’s psychology board or health department. Certification is available from various licensing boards such as The American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Developmental psychologists usually concentrate on one age group or particular area of development when it comes to specialization, but you can choose to become certified in more than one area.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologists made a median salary of $69,280 per year in 2012. There is no separate listing for developmental psychologists. The BLS estimates job growth for psychologists to be approximately 12% between 2012 and 2022. This is about the average rate for all jobs, however it is expected that those with a doctorate or specialization such as a developmental psychologist should have higher prospects.

On the Job

Developmental psychologists can work in any number of settings, depending on the population they serve. Those working with children may practice in a school or clinic, addressing issues such as trauma,anxiety or mental health diagnoses that interfere with schooling and interpersonal relationships. Professionals focusing on adult clients may have a private practice or work in specific setting such as prisons. They will address any number of issues affecting clients like divorce, mental health problems or anger management. Those who work with the elderly are known as geriatric developmental psychologists. They may work in hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. They sometimes may visit older patients in their own homes due to the issues many in this age group have with mobility.

As a developmental psychologist, you would likely utilize a variety of therapeutic techniques to address patient issues. Most psychologists choose a particular school of thought or theory from which to work. This is based upon personal philosophy, as well as on the group you would be treating. It is imperative that you be a good listener and be able to gain insight from the information you’re given in order to best meet the needs of your clients.

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This is merely an overview of the job. There are seemingly endless options for those who are interested in becoming a developmental psychologist.