Psychologists evaluate and interpret the behavior of humans in a variety of settings. Clinical child and adolescent psychologists work as counselors, teachers, researchers or case managers focusing on improving the mental and behavioral well-being of children. Depending on the career goals of a student interested in psychology, college-level work will require a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.
Child Psychology Specialization
Professional psychologists who work with infants, toddlers, children and adolescents are specialized in the area of child psychology. A child psychologist focuses on evaluating, assessing and diagnosing the cognitive, social and behavior development of children and adolescents. Employment opportunities in applying child psychology vary, depending on the degree sought by the psychology student. Those seeking higher-level education will find more opportunities to conduct direct counseling and research in the area of child and adolescent psychology.
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in psychology must complete a minimum of four years of undergraduate coursework. Psychology students seeking to enter the workforce after completing their bachelor’s degree can expect to gain employment in schools, counseling centers and social work offices. For those seeking to work with children, a bachelor’s degree can lead to jobs in child protective services, group homes and teaching. Teaching positions may require additional training, education and certification at the state level.
An additional two years of schooling beyond the bachelor’s level is required to complete a master’s degree in psychology. After completing their master's degree in psychology, graduates can find work in schools, universities, private practice and hospitals. However, those holding a master's degree in psychology cannot be referred to as a “psychologist” under the law. Degree holders work under the guidance of a licensed psychologist in hospital and private practice settings. Prior to graduating, students may choose to major in counseling or social work instead of psychology if their goal is to practice counseling children independently.
Those seeking a Ph.D. in psychology will complete a total of six to eight years of education. The terminal doctoral degree will allow a student to focus their studies on an area of specialization such as child and adolescent psychology. To become a licensed child and adolescent psychologist, students must complete their doctoral degree and earn American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology certification. Upon completion of the doctoral degree and licensing requirements, the clinical psychologist may work as a teacher, professor, researcher or psychologist in private practice.