Like many industries, psychology has a variety of subfields. Child psychology deals with the mental development and emotional and social well-being of youngsters. Most child psychologists spend years studying in their speciality before even opening their practices, though the financial benefits are significant.
In 2011, psychologists averaged $73,090 a year, though higher salaries can sometimes skew this number. For this reason, median wage is often a better indication of a psychologist’s salary. Half of all psychologists earned $67,880 a year or less, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Neither figure, however, accounts for fields or subfields. A child psychologist is paid a different scale than a neuropsychologist or a forensic psychologist, for example.
The most recent survey by the American Psychological Association, a national scientific and professional organization, found that licensed school psychologists earned an average of $90,000 a year in 2009. Of respondents, 41 percent were in private practice – the largest proportion in this subfield. Another 18 percent were working directly in the school system. Other psychological subfields, which would include child clinical psychology, earned an average of $85,000 a year, adds the APA. For those defined as “other” psychological subfields, 23 percent were child clinical psychologists – the largest number of respondents.
To become a practicing school psychologist, you need a minimum of a master’s degree in school psychology. But a specialist degree, such as an Educational Specialist degree, or a Ph.D. in school psychology can improve your job prospects. Employers tend to hire candidates with the highest level of education in their field. To become a clinical child psychologist, a Doctor of Psychology degree, or Psy.D., is often required. Psy.D. is a clinical degree, meaning it essentially teaches you how to work in a practice setting as opposed to a research one.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22 percent employment growth for all psychologists – regardless of field or subfield – through 2020. This is much faster than the anticipated 14 percent job growth for all U.S. occupations. The better-than-average market is largely due to increased demand. More and more people are turning to psychologists to help them and their families deal with mental disorders as well as other issues, such as autism or Asperger’s.