What does a Developmental Psychologist do?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
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  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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A developmental psychologist studies the development of the human mind from infancy through adulthood. The field was originally only concerned with children, but has expanded to encompass all of the psychological aspects of human development. These psychologists can work in a wide variety of places and an equally wide variety of tasks. Some are primarily involved in research work, while others work closely with children who suffer from various psychological issues. They are concerned with all aspects of the development of the mind, from moral reasoning to social behavior.

A developmental psychologist may pursue any of several different career paths. Many psychologists conduct research at universities, using the resources at their disposal to pursue their ideas and theories. Often, these researchers are also professors, teaching the next generation of psychologists. Some developmental psychologists work with patients and medical professionals in hospitals. Many specialize in one particular group or population, such as infants or the elderly.

Different psychologists are involved in many different pursuits, from counseling to police work. Unlike many others, a developmental psychologist is most likely to be involved in a theoretical, research-based pursuit. They study such subjects as adolescent development and the acquisition of motor and language skills. Often, they apply their research into seeking solutions to various developmental disorders.


Almost every developmental psychologist acquires a master's or doctoral degree in the field. Most colleges do not offer specific bachelor's degrees in developmental psychology, but many college psychology programs offer a specialization in developmental psychology. A developmental psychologist typically goes through extensive general training in psychology, from the biological basis of psychology to abnormal psychology. They then take further training specific to the development of the human mind through the various phases of life.

The concept of "nature vs. nurture," which attempts to explain the various effects of innate behavior and the environment on one's mind, is integral to many aspects of a developmental psychologist's work and research. In everything from theoretical situations to specific cases, it is important to know whether one's behavior is primarily based on his environment or on some innate, genetic behavioral traits. Developmental psychologists place particular emphasis on this concept in both research and clinical work.

Careers in developmental psychology offer a wide range of potential activities and work environments. A developmental psychologist can choose to work in a lab, hospital, private clinic, or any of several other places. Developmental psychologists are also able to work with all sorts of people as the field is interested in psychological development at all stages of life. The wide range of options makes developmental psychology a popular career choice, so competition for jobs can, at times, be intense.


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Post 4

Moldova - I just wanted to say that many psychologists working in private practice with this specialty earn six figure salaries.

There is a lot of demand for I.Q. testing because many parents want to get their kids into gifted programs within their school system so that their children could have an edge.

I imagine a lot of parents think that their child is gifted so I can see how these psychologists would make a bundle.

Post 3

Subway11 - I wanted to say that I had a friend that was a school psychologist and she told me that they get assigned a few schools at a time and have to visit the schools and talk to any troubled children.

They have extensive reports to fill out and usually work from 9 to 4 PM. They require an EdS degree which is an advanced Masters degree in order to practice in the school system.

Here in Miami, they get paid what a teacher with that degree would get paid. Many school psychologists leave to open a private practice.

Often these psychologists would be involved in I.Q. testing. The I.Q. testing segment could be lucrative because many of these psychologists charge about $350 or more for a 90 min session of testing.

They also work the hours that they want and they do not have the emotional stress that comes with working in the school system.

Post 2

SauteePan - Well at least your friend’s son is getting treatment. I think that this field is very rewarding, but I prefer to work as a school psychologist.

You also get to treat children and address their developmental issues but you are also involved in counseling them. Sometimes these children have a really sad life and the school psychologist is the only adult rooting for them.

Post 1

I think that it would be interesting to be a developmental psychologist. They usually perform tests to determine that the child is reaching cognitive milestones at the appropriate age.

If they are not then the developmental psychologist designs a method of therapy for the patient. They also look at physical changes within the child and compare it to the norm for his or her age group.

A developmental psychologist would be brought in if the child by the age of two has not uttered a word since this is not typical of a two year old.

They would look to see if the child shows signs of autism or fall within the autism spectrum.

This is

what happened to my friend’s son. He had speech delays and was finally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, sensory, and auditory processing disorder as well.

This caused him to have difficulty reading because he had problems differentiating between the various phonics sounds.

He later went to a school for special needs children and was able to go to a public school and stay in a mainstream classroom.

Most developmental psychologists are caring people who want to see people succeed.

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