A child psychology degree will take you in many different directions. If you love children and have a desire to better their lives, this field may be a good fit for you. According to Forbes, psychology was a top ten major for both men and women. Child psychology students often study children’s behavior, vulnerabilities, and developmental changes. They use these skills in various fields working with children and their families.
Usually, a bachelor’s degree alone won’t be enough for a career in child psychology. Bachelor’s degree programs in child psychology are rare. Students will major in general psychology. Some schools offer an opportunity to concentrate in child or adolescent psychology. Following undergraduate school, students enter a graduate program, complete a practicum and licensure requirements, and finally a board exam. Some of the many fields you can enter with a degree in child psychology include:
1. School Psychology
School psychologists work in K-12 schools and help students academically and emotionally. They collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to best determine a course of action so children can succeed in class. School psychologists provide special help for students diagnosed with conditions such as autism, learning, or emotional disabilities. They take data from classrooms to help schools function. They learn to administer assessments in behavior and functioning. A school psychologist usually focuses on children with special needs. At times, they may refer students with severe emotional issues such as suicidal tendencies. School psychologists may find work with a master’s degree, but most employment opportunities are for those with doctorates. School psychologists currently in good demand, according to US News and World Report. One specialization for individuals working with children with autism entails a degree in applied behavior analysis.
2. School Guidance Counselor
Guidance counselors differ from school psychologists, because they serve the entire school population. Guidance counselors provide more general advice such as improving social skills, resisting drugs and alcohol, or assisting with college applications. In high schools, guidance counselors also track students academic progress, course planning, and providing information about summer programs, internships, or scholarships. They provide career planning advice and help students with personal issues. They may do some light, one on one counseling. They get involved in social conflicts and implement mediation programs. They may organize training in social skills. Guidance counselors require graduate degrees, clinical experience, and state licensing exams.
3. Social Work
Many social workers specialize in working with children. They help single parents and arrange foster care and adoptions. They follow up with families to check on the well-being of the children, acting as their advocate. They work within the community by providing resources, counseling, and education. Clinical social workers do work like that of a psychologist, treating and diagnosing emotional and mental problems, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social workers can find entry level work with a bachelor’s, but their best employment options come with a master’s degree. Clinical social workers also need supervised experience, exams, and licensing.
4. Art Therapy
Art therapists may work with children who have emotional, mental, and developmental problems. They also work with victims of trauma. They combine psychology skills with therapeutic art projects, helping clients to express themselves in a different way. They help clients improve self-esteem, develop self-awareness, manage behavior, and improve social skills. They use various mediums including drawing and painting, ceramics, or other forms. Art therapists work in schools, hospitals, various clinical and community settings, or in private practices. They work with clients one on one and in group settings. Art therapists need a master’s degree for entry-level work.
5. Child Psychologist
Child psychologists treat children and adolescents with severe mental illness, developmental issues, and learning disabilities. They help children cope with issues such as trauma, death, or divorce. Psychologists are more skilled in conducting psychological assessments than other mental health workers. Child psychologists receive more in-depth training as clinical psychologists. They have more training in long-term care than school psychologists. They may work with patients or in indirect ways, such as in research. Child psychology workers pursue a Ph.D. in psychology. They have supervised clinical experience before pursuing full licensure.
A career in child psychology goes beyond that of being a child psychologist. There are many different fields that will suit the interests of any child psychology student.