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How do I Become a Child Psychologist?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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A child psychologist is a professional who works with children and their families using therapy methods that are centered on the needs of children; for example, drawings, play, and reenactments. Child psychologists may have their own practice, they may be part of a group practice, or they may work in a hospital or for the government, such as working with Social Services or Child Protective Services. Those who wish to become a child psychologist will find that the work can be very rewarding, but it is also a job full of heartbreak and challenges.

To become a child psychologist, you must first have a bachelor's degree in psychology. When you are looking at potential colleges, try to pick one that is both affordable and that has a great child psychology graduate program. While you don't need to choose this school for your graduate degree, it will give you an opportunity to interact with graduate students and professors teaching upper-level classes. Take as many courses as you can that relate to child psychology, including courses on play, child development, and learning.

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Start researching graduate schools early. If you are attending a college that has a strong graduate program in child psychology, this may be a good place to start, as students already attending the college usually have a better chance of getting in than those who are getting their bachelor's degree elsewhere. Someone who wants to become a child psychologist should look for a graduate program that allows students to get a lot of hands-on experience early. To make the most of your time as a graduate student, get involved with as many projects as you have time for, and make friends with your professors and other classmates. This is an invaluable chance to network and make connections that may be useful later in your career.

After getting your graduate degree to become a child psychologist, you will need to get licensed. Every state has different licensing requirements, but they usually all require that the applicant passes a licensing exam. In most states, the exam is a generic exam used for all psychologists, regardless of what their specialty is, with both oral and written sections. Other requirements include education and a certain amount of supervised experience. After completing all of these steps for licensing, you will be ready to begin work as a child psychologist.

There are several ways to find a job as a child psychologist. Many colleges have a job placement program. There are also many online resources for job hunters. Before beginning your search, put together a résumé listing your education and relevant experience. If you can get letters of recommendation from previous professors or child psychologists you may have worked with in school, that can also help. Decide what sort of practice you would like to work in, and narrow your search. This will make it easier for you to find a position you can thrive in.

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anon330055
Post 10

I'm a freshman in high school and I'm wanting to become a pediatric psychologist/psychiatrist. I would really like to have at least a bachelors degree, but my question is: how long will that take me exactly to get it? And if I take online college courses in high school during my junior/senior year, will that make my time shorter? And by getting just my bachelors degree, will that affect my career/salary in the future?

anon294560
Post 8

I want to become a child psychologist because I was raped and molested at a young age by different males. Also being from a violent household where my father felt the need to say he didn't want me and was violent towards my mom in front of me, I feel the need to protect children from what I went through and to help those who have had this happen understand it's not their fault.

anon273649
Post 7

I really want to become a child physiologist but I have no clue where to start.

anon153635
Post 6

Okay so i am still in high school and i have been looking in to being a child psychologist and i don't know if it is what i want to do. I want to try it before i start to get credits for this. is there any way to find out?

Bhutan
Post 5

Cupcake15- I wanted to say that becoming a child psychologist requires a special calling or need to protect children.

People looking to get into this profession have to really love children and want to protect them. Often the cases are tragic and unimaginable and a trained child psychologist has to be able to deal with this type of depressive information and perform their job as a professional.

Not everyone can do this job because some of the cases are really heartbreaking. Some say that it is precisely because of these cases that some people want to learn how to become a child psychologist.

cupcake15
Post 4

Sunny27-I can answer that for you. The requirements to become a child psychologist are extensive. You have to have a doctorate degree in order to become a child psychologist.

This can be a PsyD or a PhD. A PsyD is a doctorate in clinical psychology that would allow the child psychologist to perform therapy and diagnose the child’s psychological condition.

Those child psychologists with a PhD often seek to perform research in order to develop a better understanding of children’s behavior in effort to find better ways to treat certain psychological conditions.

Becoming a child psychologist also involves a practicum if the psychologist is seeking to work in a clinical setting. A practicum is like an on the job training or internship that is required in order to complete the program. This is really how to become a child psychologist.

sunshine31
Post 3

Sunny27- How do you become a child psychologist? How long does it take to become a child psychologist?

Sunny27
Post 2

Anon91195- That is admirable that you want to be a child psychologist. There is really no guarantee that we will enjoy a profession until we are actually in it. You have to judge by your own experience and not someone else’s.

The best thing to do is try to do some volunteer work in an orphanage or a school. Some schools have bully coordinators that protect children from the effects of bullying.

If you are able to do these jobs and can’t wait to go back to it, then that is a good indication that you would be a great match for this profession.

anon91195
Post 1

Okay, well i want to be a child psychologist, but I'm really young, and I'm scared that if i do all of these things, and i get there and don't make it that i won't have a job to do!

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