How to Become a Developmental Psychologist

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Developmental psychology is the study of the ways people change over their entire lifetime and the things that influence these changes. Specially trained professionals are required to study aspects of developmental psychology and to treat people throughout their lives. This is the job of a developmental psychologist.


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What does a developmental psychologist do?

Psychologists of all types study the behavior and mental processes of human beings. Developmental psychologists study human development including cognitive, physiological, and social development that occur through all the life stages. They study the biological and environmental aspects that affect individuals. Many specialize in a specific life stage such as development throughout infancy, childhood, adolescence or the changes that happening during adulthood or growing old. Some developmental psychologists study developmental disabilities and the effects they have on people. More and more over time, research is finding ways to help people who are elderly stay independent for longer.

What kind of training does a developmental psychologist need?

Majority of the states around the United States require developmental psychologists to have a master or doctorate degree in developmental psychology. Developmental psychologists with a Ph.D or Psy.D will qualify for a broad range of positions in many fields such as health care facilities, schools, universities, government, and private practices. While pursuing their doctoral degree many developmental psychologists participate in internships and other opportunities to gain fieldwork experience.

Developmental psychologists who wish to independently practice or are involved in direct patient care of any type must meet licensing or certification requirements in all states in the U.S. Specific licensing requirements will vary by state, but all states required a passing score on a state examination. Majority of state licensing boards administer standardized tests and some states require continuing education classes for license renewal.

What are the prospects for a career in developmental psychology?

Employment of all types of psychologists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 15% over the next decade from 166,000 jobs in 2006 to around 191,000 jobs in 2016 (1).

Job prospects will be the best for psychologists who have a doctoral degree with a designated specialty. Developmental psychologists who have extensive experience and training in computer science and quantitative research methods will have excellent job prospects.

How much do developmental psychologists make?

As of June 2009, the middle 50% of developmental psychologists earned between $69,007 and $90,326 a year, with the highest 10% earning more than $101,088 a year. (2).

A position as a Developmental Psychologist is a great choice for people who are very interested in studying the development of people over their lifetime. They should enjoy working with individuals who are challenged by developmental disabilities and find the best path of treatment. They also must be able to work as a part of a team and work well under stress and pressure. Sensitivity, emotional stability, patience, compassion, and inspiration are also necessary characteristics.

Joshua T Osborne

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