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Developmental Psychologist: Education and Career Information

Developmental Psychology is the study of human development and growth. This includes social changes, intellectual, emotional, physical, mental and any milestones a human may go through to better understand how people change during different stages of their lives. This is an important part of the fields of sociology, education, history and anthropology. This can be a lucrative position for the right person who is focused on human growth and development.

What does a developmental psychologist do?

A developmental psychologist works with specific populations to study the way they grow and develop. They study a particular age range, which may include evaluating children to determine if they have a developmental disability, investigating how language skills are acquired, studying how moral reasoning develops in children, and exploring ways to help elderly individuals remain independent. A developmental psychologist works in a number of places such as educational settings, colleges and universities. They also teach courses on development and growth to assist in schools. You may also find them working in government agencies, teen rehab centers, homeless centers, clinics, hospitals and assisted living homes.

How much does a developmental psychologist earn?

The average salary for a developmental psychologist is between $69,007 and $90,326, according to Salary Wizard. This is contingent on location, education, and experience. Developmental psychologists can make over $100,000 per year when placed at the right facility. This position is expected to grow over the next decade.

What types of skills are needed to become a developmental psychologist?

There are a number of skills needed to be successful as a developmental psychologist:

Reading comprehension: This role should be able to read clearly for comprehension and apply the information learned to assist with decision making.

Critical thinking: This role must use logic and reasoning to identify areas of strength and weakness, considering alternative solutions and approaches to problems they encounter.

Speaking: This job requires speaking with a number of people at different levels. The developmental psychologist should be able to convey information to these audiences effectively.

Active learning: This role is about the study of human growth and development, which requires a high concentration of learning. A developmental psychologist must be open to understand and comprehend the different stages patients may go through.

Social perceptiveness: This position has to be aware of others’ reactions and work to understand why the reaction occurred.

Observational skills: Study and observation work hand-in-hand. A developmental psychologist must have excellent observational skills in order to properly assess and diagnose patients.

Instructing: A developmental psychologist must be an active instructor, willing and able to teach others in order to assess human growth.

Coordination: When studying particular subjects, having everything coordinated is key. This will help ensure subjects are grouped together to obtain the right information needed.

Management of Personnel Resources: A developmental psychologist works with others to get the data they need. This role must be able to stand as a leader and effectively manage people and resources.

Internship Requirements

Internship requirements vary based on school, state and program. Most states require developmental psychologists to have 3,000 hours.

Education Requirements

In order to pursue a career as a developmental psychologist, a student will have to commit themselves to years of educational study. This begins with a four-year bachelor’s degree program in developmental psychology. The program must be accredited. Individuals seeking a career in this field usually study biology, psychology, pre-medicine, neuroscience or a field that is closely related. Coursework should be done in all these areas, including coursework in developmental psychology, language and cognitive development, social and emotional development, developmental psycho-biology, and statistics.

After obtaining the bachelor’s degree, the student must prepare to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to be accepted into the master’s program. Once the student has entered the master’s degree program, they will study foundational coursework in developmental psychology. They will also begin an in-depth study of human growth, social changes, developmental challenges and more.

After completing the master’s degree program, the student must prepare to enter a doctoral program to study developmental psychology. The doctoral program is very challenging, and students usually complete an additional three to seven years of formal education. Throughout those years, students gain experience through coursework that includes:

•Cognitive Development
•Developmental Psychopathology
•Qualitative Analysis
•Research in Psychology
•Advanced Inferential Statistics
•Lifespan Development
•Research Foundations of History and Systems in Psychology

A doctoral dissertation and internship credit hours are needed to graduate.

To practice in the field, a license is needed. Minimal requirements to obtain this license include a doctoral degree in psychology. This is for developmental psychologists who work with patients in a clinical or counseling setting. If working in a university, research lab or federal agency, it may not be required, but is highly recommended. In order to attain the license, candidates must have completed an accredited doctoral program, completion of supervised experience and the passing of the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology.

When under supervision of a licensed practitioner, it is important to get experience dealing with both children, adolescents and adults to gain a better understanding of how human growth and development evolves. Knowing first-hand what to expect beyond formal education and learning to apply practical knowledge is key in getting to where you want to be, both personally and professionally.

There are a number of roles a developmental psychologist can work in. This will be a very lucrative and rewarding position for someone who is interested in not only learning about human growth and development, but in making a difference in how things are viewed. This is a highly specialized position, and the education required to work efficiently will be well worth the time and effort. Making sure all educational roads are exhausted can make a definitive impact on the roles offered over time, and the amount of responsibility and credibility attained. Being proactive in your personal development can help reap great rewards that will extend beyond the initial role.

Psychology Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Scholarships Association of Black Psychologists Epilepsy Foundation
Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship Future Counselors of America Scholarship Gallagher Koster Health Careers Scholarship
Kay Wilson Presidential Leadership Award NIH Undergraduate Scholarship NAJA Graduate Scholarship
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Psi Chi Awards and Grants Wayne F. Placek Grants
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