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What are some requirements to pursuing a career in child psychology?

For the longest time I have aspired to become a Pediatrician I even created my career plan but recently had a change of interest, now I'm interested in Child psychology. I switched from Psy BS to Psychology bachelors degree in Arts (BA) but now I'm quite unsure what the next steps are. I love children and want to help them because they are the future generation and strongly believe mental important is extremely important because it can have a negative impact on human learning behaviors and so much more. #psychology #child-psychology #career

Thank you!

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi, Martha!

Steps to Become a Child Psychologist:

Complete an undergraduate education.

Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a major related to child psychology – or at least taking substantial coursework and having work or volunteer experience related to child psychology – is recommended to facilitate acceptance into the doctoral program of your choice.

Enter graduate school with the goal of earning a PhD.

Depending on the university, a master’s degree may be expected before entering a doctoral program. In some universities, these degrees are combined. But for any of the types of child psychologists described above, a PhD in psychology is most often expected. Approximately 75% of doctorate psychology degrees are PhDs. However, a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) is an option for those wanting to focus on clinical work, while an EdD (Doctor of Education) is an option for those in educational settings, most often administration. A PhD is the most versatile, as it allows you to be prepared for clinical work and for research.

Fulfill practicum requirements.

Practicum requirements and duration vary by state – make sure you are aware. Many states require the doctoral program to be accredited by the APA (American Psychological Association) and require supervised practicum training, ranging from one to several years. To reduce obstacles around eventual licensure, it is important to choose a doctoral program carefully and begin planning for practicum hours while still in grad school.

Get licensed.

Licensure at the state level is required to practice psychology in the U.S., providing direct therapeutic services. Part of the licensure process is to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

Keys to Success as a Child Psychologist

There are characteristic-based competencies that make for a successful child psychologist.

People skills

When working with children and their significant others, psychologists rely on their strength in communication and collaboration; empathy; the ability to be objective; the ability to establish trust; and patience.

A love of working independently

Child psychologists work quite independently, due to their high level of education and expertise. At the same time, expectations are high and, in general, the profession of child psychologist is on the demanding side. But with those demands comes great gratification.


Those in private practice must be available when children are. This often means evenings and weekends to build and maintain a successful practice. Settings that employ child psychologists to provide direct services to children must often carry a heavy caseload.


Because business is focused on generating revenue, there is pressure for child psychologists in this setting to put in long hours and get results in the form of sales and profit. Those who conduct research particularly in universities often fall under the “publish or perish” expectation, which requires substantial devotion of time and effort as well as the ongoing need to write and be awarded grants.

I hope this can help you in your choice! I wish you success!