Careers in Child Psychology – What Can You Do With a Child Psychology Degree?

A child psychology degree focuses on how genetic, social and environmental factors influence a child’s development (from birth through adolescence). With a child psychology degree, you have the skills to pursue a variety of careers (researcher, teacher, therapist, etc.).

An advanced degree (a master’s degree or doctorate) may enable you to work with abused and/or neglected children, children with mental illnesses and/or adolescents who abuse drugs and alcohol.

You may also be able to guide students as they prepare for their futures. So if you are wondering what you can do with a child psychology degree – you are in luck. There are a lot of career paths you can venture down with a background in child psychology.

Child Psychology Careers

Child Psychologist

With an advanced degree (master’s and/or doctorate) in child psychology and a license/certification, you can become a child psychologist. You will also have the ability to choose a specialty such as: child-related abnormal psychology, child-related adjustment issues, school psychology and/or developmental psychology.

Some of the issues you may treat include: divorce, learning disabilities, developmental delays, college guidance, depression, anxiety, phobias, child abuse, substance abuse, self-esteem issues, bullying, etc. You may work at a private practice, a social services agency or school.

School Psychologist

If you decide to practice as a school psychologist, your main responsibilities will be to evaluate student needs, counsel students, design educational programs for healthy students and those with special needs and provide resources for students with drug and alcohol addictions. At minimum, you will need a master’s degree and a license to practice as a school psychologist.

Pediatric Psychologist

Pediatric psychology involves the application of psychological principles to medical science and treatment in adolescents. It is a field that comprises in part various components of medical treatment as they pertain to illness and injury suffered in adolescents, and psychological impacts thereof.

Pediatric psychology field involves scientific research as well as clinical practice. Pediatric psychology is practiced in a variety of healthcare venues, such as hospitals and medical clinics. It can also be an avenue that provides oversight to healthcare treatment practices, and advocacy on behalf of patients.

Child Counselor

A child counselor is a mental health professional who works young clients, mostly children, to address and resolve mental, emotional and psychological issues. Child counselors use therapy, counseling, and other interventions to help children improve their emotional and mental well-being and achieve a greater understanding of their thoughts and behaviors. They are specially trained to work with children and understand how to communicate and connect with them in a way that is appropriate for their age and developmental stage.

Most child counselors need a masters degree in child counseling, mental health counseling or a related field.

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.

Child Abuse Counselor

When thinking of becoming a child abuse counselor it is important to understand the skills necessary as well as the situations in which children need counseling services. Child abuse counselors are an important part of the healing process for children who have suffered abuse, but this is certainly not a job for every counselor.

On a daily basis child counselors interact with children who have suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse. The toll that this abuse takes on children can often manifest strong behavioral issues which require a skilled counselor to work with. Through their education and experience they can offer each child a chance to work through their past and look forward to their future.

As a counselor in this field it is necessary to understand the relationship between acting out behaviors and the mental health issues behind them. Child counselors help children work through the trauma and move towards living a happy life.

It is also important for a child counselor to understand the daily paperwork necessary, as they have to provide clinical documentation to social services, parents, case workers or the court system.

College Professor

With a doctorate in child psychology, you will have the skills needed to teach college-level courses. Your advanced degree in child psychology may enable you to teach traditional and non-traditional college students, supervise undergraduate and graduate psychology students while they work on their thesis paper, develop psychology programs and collaborate with future child psychologists.

You will also have the skills needed to write grants for research funding. If you decide to pursue this career path, you will more than likely split your time between teaching and conducting research studies.


Another career path you can pursue with a master’s degree or doctorate in child psychology is research. You main responsibilities will be to observe, assess and design new therapy and treatment methods. Your focus will be on studying child development (thinking patterns, behaviors, social interactions and physical and emotional) from birth through adolescences.

You may also study the various factors that affect child development and examine the possible causes when it comes to childhood mental disorders. Moreover, your research studies may focus on developing more effective educational programs, teaching methods and classroom curriculum for children with special needs (learning disabilities and developmental delays). You may work in a university lab or at an independent research laboratory or a government agency.

Social Worker

You can use your bachelor’s degree in child psychology to become a social servant. If you decide to pursue this career you will primarily work in a public setting (community outreach center, mental health facility and/or social services agency).

As more and more children enter the “system” (child protective services, foster care, juvenile justice, etc.) there will be an increased demand for social workers with a child psychology background. Your skills will not only allow you to provide resources for children and their family, it will also help you properly assess dangerous situations (child abuse and neglect).

Some states require that you be licensed as social worker or counselor before practicing social worker so it is important to research your state’s requirements before choosing a degree program. It is also important to note that most social workers (child case managers) carry large caseloads (15-20 children) and many of the children have abuse and/or neglect issues, mental illness and/or criminal backgrounds.

You may work at a social services agency providing child protective, foster care and/or juvenile justice services. In addition, the children may reside in foster homes, relative homes, group homes, treatment facilities or juvenile detention centers. Furthermore, you may be required to go to court dates, doctor’s appointments and family visitations with the children.

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