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What Is a Child Psychologist and How to Become One

What Is a Child Psychologist?

As a child psychologist, you work with children from infancy through adolescence in a clinical setting, a school, or a research facility, focusing on mental health and behavioral development. Your duties may vary depending on your area of expertise. For example, you may work with students with learning disabilities or in a clinical setting with adolescent patients with mental health issues.

How to Become a Child Psychologist

A career as a child psychologist requires you have extensive qualifications and education, typically beginning with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a master’s degree specializing in child psychology, and then finally you must obtain a Ph.D. and state licensure before beginning clinical practice. Though it is not a legal requirement, you may also wish to pursue certification from the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABCCAP), which recognizes skills and expertise in the field.

Where Do Child Psychologists Work?

Child psychologists work in mental health facilities, hospitals, schools, and family practice clinics. Each location comes with its own requirements in terms of licenses and professional experience. Your post-graduate degree specialization determines, to some extent, where you can work after graduating and upon obtaining a psychology license. You may participate in academic research programs while performing the other duties related to your practice, or you may even choose to forego a private practice altogether and focus solely on the research of subjects like child development and adolescent mental health.