Developmental psychology is one of the many fields of psychology,which includes other diverse specialties as abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, and cognitive psychology, among others. In this field, psychologists study human development from childhood through adulthood, with a goal of understanding why and how people change throughout different stages of their lives. These psychologists study several aspects of human growth, including physical, social, emotional, intellectual, perceptual, and personality development.
What are the Duties of a Developmental Psychologist?
Developmental psychologists track perceptual and cognitive growth, language acquisition, and social development in humans from birth to old age. They work with different populations, ranging from children (who make up the bulk of developmental psychologists’ clientele) to the elderly, from individuals to families. Some of the tasks that a developmental psychologist might perform include:
- Evaluating children to determine if they have any developmental disabilities, and if so, establishing a plan to help them either overcome their disabilities or cope with them to live as comfortably as possible.
- Studying the development of moral reasoning in children and how they come to acquire such reasoning skills, as well as how these conceptions change as the child ages.
- Helping the elderly maintain a high quality of life and independence despite old age and its unique problems.
- Investigating how language skills are acquired from infancy and how they change over a person’s lifespan.
What are the Career Opportunities in Developmental Psychology?
The number of careers for those with a background in developmental psychology continues to grow, making this area of psychology the most promising one in today’s socially restless environment.
Developmental psychologists are employed in a variety of workplace environments, depending on their particular specialty. Some work in educational settings such as colleges and universities, where they administer and evaluate tests to determine students’ levels of mental functioning. They also frequently work with individual students who may face developmental challenges.
Other developmental psychologists find jobs in outpatient care centers where they work with patients undergoing rehabilitation from injury or illness. In addition to providing individual and group counseling, they design and administer tests to evaluate the patients’ functioning level. Similar workplaces include teen rehabilitation centers, elderly communities and retirement homes, and juvenile detention centers.Professionals working in these environments earned an average annual salary of $59,130 in 2010.
Developmental psychologists can also to choose to work as individual psychologists in their own counseling practices, where they can offer more intensive therapy for individuals and groups. They often work with children who are having problems meeting certain developmental milestones, or with elderly patients who wish to retain and maintain their full developmental functioning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for independently practicing developmental psychologists was $57,440 in 2010.
These professionals can often be found working in different types of clinical settings. Some clinics and hospitals offer therapeutic services in which developmental psychologists work with other doctors and physicians in devising treatment plans for patients. In 2010, the average salary for such a professional was estimated to be $68,400 per year.
According to “Tomorrow’s Jobs” from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs in health care and social assistance will grow by 25.4% and add 4 million new jobs by the year 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that by the year 2030, nearly 20% of the population will be aged 65 or over, a 13% increase from current numbers. As a result, developmental and child psychologists are needed to address the main stressors that affect this life stage: loss of loved ones, chronic diseases like as heart disease and cancer, memory problems, sexuality and sexual health problems, and substance abuse. Nursing homes, veteran homes, and elderly retirement communities are expected to see the greatest increase in the number of positions available as the aged population grows.