What Can I Do with a Degree in Child Development?

Learn more about what you can do with a degree in child development psychology. Find information on child development careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in child development psychology.


Psychology is a broad field that focuses on the study of human behavior. While professionals working in the field can provide service to a wide range of clients, those specifically interested in providing service to children must have special training and education. Child development is a unique phase in the growth of human beings. Thus, psychologists that desire to work with this specific group must understand the foundations of child development and the role that psychology can play in improving outcomes for children.

Child development psychology is a challenging field. While many psychologists will be provided with the opportunity to work with normally developing children in healthy homes, most of the services provided by these professionals are for children in need. Children with disabilities, those that have been abused or those that have suffered trauma or loss are those that are commonly seen in practice. For professionals that love children and desire to help them, witnessing the distress of a child can be emotionally difficult. In spite of these challenges, child development psychologists are typically able to provide the supports needed by the client for healthy growth and development. Hence, through their jobs, child development psychologists are often able to witness positive growth and development of their clients.


Child development psychologists work in a limited number of fields that are focused primarily on children and child development. For instance, child development psychologists may be employed in a school setting. In these positions, the child development psychologist may be responsible for assessment and diagnosis of children with learning and behavioral disabilities. In addition, these professionals may be responsible for providing counseling services for children that are experiencing problems at home (abuse or neglect) or at school (bullying). School child psychologists may also provide supports for educational enrichment of children with disabilities. Child psychologists may also seek careers in community mental health services. In these roles, child development psychologists will work with children from the community to provide service where needed. Child development psychologists work with children that may be struggling with mental disorders (e.g., depression, schizophrenia). In addition these professionals may work with children that have experienced abuse or neglect.


Salaries for professionals working in child development psychology are typically quite generous. This is due to the fact that professionals in this discipline are required to have extensive education in order to seek employment. Individuals considering a career in child development psychology are typically required to obtain a Doctorate Degree (PhD). After completing their education, professionals are also required to complete at least two years of clinical supervision in the field. Most states require licensing for child development psychologists to enter into practice. As a result of the rigors educational and training demands, professionals working in the field typically command median annual salaries of $64,000. Those at the upper echelons of the profession can earn income of more than $150,000 annually. Child development psychologists working in schools or community mental health programs may command slightly lower salaries. Professionals in these positions may choose to augment their salaries by engaging in research studies and seeking publication of their work.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for professionals working in child development psychology is expected to be average through 2018. Growth in the number of jobs is expected to be fueled by advancements in research and understanding of child development. Growth in the field is also expected to increase as a result of efforts to ensure that children with disabilities are educated in the mainstream classroom. Child development psychologists that specialize in child education will be able to provide the needed supports to ensure that children with disabilities are provided with adequate education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Even though the number of jobs in the profession is expected to increase, competition for jobs will be quite intense. Professionals that have obtained Doctorate Degrees in their field and have experience in working with children will have access to the largest number of job opportunities. Professionals providing service through independent practice (self-employment) will also have access to additional job opportunities.

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