How Much Does a Child Psychologist Make? (With Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have a strong interest in psychology and love working with children, then pursuing a career in child psychology may be an excellent fit for you. A child psychologist is a professional who offers psychological evaluation and guidance to children. Because psychology is a specialised technical field, most jobs in psychology provide competitive salaries and various other additional benefits. In this article, we explain how much a child psychologist makes, the typical duties and responsibilities of this position and how you can begin a career in this field.

How much does a child psychologist make?

If you're interested in pursuing a career in child psychology, you may wonder, "how much does a child psychologist make?" The average salary of a child psychologist is $36,256 per month. The compensation you can earn varies based on your level of expertise in your chosen speciality and your place of employment.

Besides a base salary, psychologists may also receive other employment benefits such as housing allowances, tuition reimbursements, commuter benefits, employee discounts, paid time off and various insurance packages. Sometimes, employers might also pay you to take a certification exam, pursue professional training courses or attend technical lectures.

Read more: What Are Compensation and Benefits? Definition and Importance

What is a child psychologist?

A child psychologist is a specialist who primarily cares for patients who are children and adolescents. Child psychologists can work in several settings, such as clinics, schools, public hospitals, mental health care facilities and private therapy practices. Since child psychologists often work with young patients, they generally focus on providing help and guidance in areas such as childhood development, reacting to significant transitions and dealing with challenges, like grief or chronic illness. Much of a child psychologist's responsibilities involve helping young children grow into well-adjusted adults by offering guidance for developing their emotional intelligence, social skills and social awareness.

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What does a child psychologist do?

A child psychologist can have several duties that involve treating young patients. For instance, they can meet with patients and their families to discuss the child's mental health needs and create treatment plans that focus on areas of improvement for the child. Child psychologists also stay updated with the latest research in childhood development to understand current practices for promoting healthy and effective development in the early stages of life. Here's a list of typical duties and responsibilities of a child psychologist:

  • evaluate children's mental and emotional states

  • diagnose mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in children

  • maintain constant communication and positive relationships with child's families

  • identify probable sources for a child's emotional distress or developmental challenges

  • communicate with their child's families, teachers and paediatricians to ensure they implement any treatment plans effectively

  • recommend new behaviours that can replace negative or upsetting behaviours that their patients may exhibit currently

  • develop new approaches and strategies for treating mental health issues in young children and adolescent patients from various social and economic backgrounds

  • determine the effectiveness of a child's current educational environment

  • develop and teach child psychology courses at colleges and universities

  • run their own practice and perform administrative tasks, such as managing patient records, ensuring correct details are recorded, purchasing insurance and billing clients

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How to become a child psychologist

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you become a child psychologist:

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

One of the first steps to pursue a career in child psychology is to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology, counselling, mental health, behavioural health or another related field. Even though it's less common, some colleges may specifically offer bachelor degrees in child psychology. It takes almost four years to complete this programme.

2. Pursue a higher degree

Often, the minimum educational requirement for becoming a child psychologist is a master's degree. Most firms prefer candidates with a major in child development, child psychology, clinical psychology or other related subjects. These programmes offer advanced education and training that a child psychologist requires, such as administering therapy to young children and diagnosing mental health disorders in patients.

Sometimes, individuals also prefer pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology or childhood development. While it may be common to earn a general doctoral degree focusing on psychology, there's also the option to earn a Doctor of Psychology degree, which can offer more rigorous and specialised education and experience. This programme typically takes between four to seven years to complete. At the end of the programme, the student submits a dissertation based on their own research. A doctorate may also qualify you for lucrative job opportunities overseas.

3. Undergo a training programme

Most child psychologists may complete a formal training programme before they can begin practising independently. This training can offer various opportunities for candidates to build their skills and gain experience through practical sessions and by observing other senior professionals at work. You may consider an internship, which involves working closely with an established child psychologist and learning from their work. Internships also offer individuals opportunities to improve their abilities by performing some of the psychologist's duties independently and meeting with a supervisor to review their progress.

After completing an internship, child psychologists may also engage in a few years of practical experience, either in clinical work or other types of fieldwork. An aspiring child psychologist can get professional experience from various places, such as public hospitals, schools, mental health clinics and private therapy practices.

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4. Obtain membership in professional organisations

As an unregulated profession in Hong Kong, child psychologists abide by guidelines and qualifications prepared by their employer instead of the law. While anyone can use the title of a psychologist in a professional capacity, there are two primary organisations that work with government agencies to create regulations for psychologists. It's advisable to obtain a membership in these organisations so that they can recognise you as a valid practitioner. Some standard organisations include the Hong Kong Psychological Society and the Hong Kong Association of Doctors in Clinical Psychology (HKADCP).

4. Apply for jobs

Once you complete all the educational requirements and gain experience as a mental health professional, you can consider applying for psychologist positions. Use your CV and cover letter to highlight the skills and expertise necessary for the job. Remember to include specific keywords featured in the job listing to create a compelling job application. Choose job opportunities related to your proficiency and experience to have a better chance of getting hired.

Read more: 11 Top Jobs for a Psychologist (With Job Details and Salary)

Skills required to be a successful child psychologist

Here are some of the fundamental skills you require to succeed as a child psychologist:

  • Communication skills: An excellent child psychologist possesses strong verbal communication skills necessary to communicate with young children and their families. They may use simple words and phrases when talking to children and can practise active listening skills, so the child feels understood.

  • Empathy: Sometimes children may struggle with challenging issues, such as the death of a loved one. Child psychologists empathise with their young clients to understand what they're going through and to help them access coping strategies.

  • Patience: One of the key responsibilities of a child psychologist is to track patients' progress towards specific goals. Often, change does not happen immediately, and child psychologists require patience as young children incorporate new techniques or solutions into their daily lives.

  • Decision-making skills: Child psychologists require excellent decision-making skills to determine the best treatment plan for their patients.

  • Observational skills: Child psychologists possess excellent observation skills, which can help them study the behaviours and attitudes of children. This can help diagnose disorders and other mental or emotional issues accurately.

  • Analytical skills: Psychologists learn significant information about human behaviours and the theories behind them. They require good analytical skills to break down these complex ideas into principles that they can utilise to assess, diagnose or treat individuals.

  • Problem-solving skills: Young patients approach child psychologists to help solve mental or behavioural problems. An excellent psychologist can combine several skills, such as analytical skills and critical thinking, to develop the best approach to solving a patient's problem.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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