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10 Pros and Cons of Being a Child Psychologist


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Have you ever felt that you have always had a connection with children and adolescents? Do you feel like you are good at helping others? If this sounds a lot like you, you may want to consider a career as a child psychologist, but let me guess, you probably do not know much about the profession or what are the pros and cons of being a child psychologist? No need to panic. I have compiled a list of the top 10 pros and cons of being a child psychologist. This list will surely help you decide if this career path is one that is right for you.


What is a Child Psychologist?


A child psychologist is a type of psychologist who works with children, adolescents, and their families to meet the emotional, behavioral, and social needs of this population. In order to meet these needs, you will primarily be studying and analyzing the learning patterns of children and adolescents, their behaviors, and any other factors within the child’s life from infancy to adolescents. As a child psychologist, there are many different types of psychology you could specialize in. You will also find that this career will afford you the opportunity to work in different settings.


TOP CONS OF BEING A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST

(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of being a Child Psychologist.)

1. You will first need to complete your undergraduate degree.

If you feel that a career in child psychology is right for you, you must start with earning your bachelor's degree in psychology or child development. This degree will take you around four years to complete. You should also ensure that you are attending an accredited program because you are not done with your educational requirements yet and will need this accreditation to attend graduate school. Ensuring you have the right undergraduate degree to start this journey is an important aspect to assess when weighing the pros and cons of being a child psychologist.

2. A master's degree is the minimum standard.

So, after you have completed your bachelor's degree, you still have some more learning to do. A master's degree is the minimum education requirement in order to start getting your feet wet in this career. Your graduate coursework will consist of studying theories and research. Depending on which program you choose to attend, you may be required to complete a time-consuming thesis.

3. If you want to advance your career, you will need to further advance your education.

As a child psychologist, you will need to earn your Ph.D. or your Psy.D. if you plan to advance your career and your paycheck. One of the disadvantages of being a child psychologist is that in order to achieve these milestones, you will be spending more money and more time in addition to the money and time you already spent earning your bachelor’s and master's.

4. Have you thought about how you are going to pay for all of this schooling?

As you can see, if you wish to pursue becoming a child psychologist, you will have many years of school ahead of you. This does not come free, and money does not grow on trees, as far as I know. So, unless you have a pretty significant savings account, it looks like you may need to take out loans. Great! No problem, right? Well, yes, there is a problem. You eventually will need to pay these loans back with interest. Keep in mind the more time it takes you to pay these loans back, the more interest you will be racking up. Yikes!

5. You may have to work for free.

As a child psychologist, you will need to have some hands-on experience. This hands-on experience is obtained through an internship or practicum. That sounds great except for the fact that you will be working for free. Working for free is definitely one of the biggest disadvantages of being a child psychologist. Most states will require that you have experience in the field before sitting for your license. During your practical or hands-on hours, you will be working independently under a supervising child psychologist who will determine your knowledge base and work quality before authorizing the completion of your internship. You can find many of these internships through different avenues, for example, Children’s national and Children’s Minnesota, to name a few.

6. Do you have a license to practice?

All states will require that you have a license in good standing in order to practice as a child psychologist. The general requirements for licensing usually include holding a specific degree, having practical experience in the field, and completing a written exam. The most commonly used exam is the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology. This exam will evaluate your knowledge base of the most recent practice guidelines and ultimately determine if you are fit to practice. The fact that you need to pass an exam to practice is definitely one of the factors that you need to consider when weighing the pros and cons of being a child psychologist. This exam will essentially dictate your ability to work.

7. You may want to consider becoming board certified.

As a child psychologist, you may want to obtain board certification. Board certification is not required but will definitely give you a leg up on the competition. Having board certification means that you are recognized as being an expert in your field. To become board-certified, you must meet the education and practicum requirements as well as successfully complete an examination. You will also be required to submit practice samples, which will be reviewed by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Suppose they have determined that you are a candidate for board certification based on your presented information during your application process. In that case, you will then be eligible to sit for the exam. Obtaining board certification will mean more hours of studying for you and shelling out more money. Let’s also not forget if the board is not satisfied with what you have presented, then you may not be able to sit for the exam at all.

8. Your license is non-transferable

So, I know you will be really excited once you pass your state license exam because now you can finally practice. Well, I hope you do not plan on ever moving across the country. Although each state does require that you have a license, your license does not give you the privilege to practice in every state. The same goes for if you ever plan on practicing in a different country. You may be required to pay additional fees, take additional classes, and pass exams, including licensing exams, to practice outside of the place you were initially licensed in. A non-transferable license is definitely ranking high on the list of disadvantages of being a child psychologist.

9. You may suffer from emotional burnout and stress.

Your day-to-day work will be focused on children, adolescents, and families who are seeking help. This can be trying and stressful day after day and can weigh on your mind even after you have finished working for the day. You may end up taking your work home with you emotionally. So, suppose you feel that pursuing a career in child psychology is something you want to do. In that case, I urge you to really think about if you will be able to maintain professional boundaries to not become burned out.

10. You could find yourself working at all hours.

Many child psychologists will find that they may be working some pretty long and irregular hours. Unfortunately, you will need to be available to attend to your patient’s needs, and sometimes your patient’s needs are going to be outside of the Monday through Friday 9-5 schedule.


TOP PROS OF BEING A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST

(The following are the top 10 advantages of being a Child Psychologist.)

1. Your income will not be too shabby.

According to salary.com, the median income for a psychologist was around $76,302 per year with a salary range from $64,988 to $91,744. This is a pretty good income and one of the advantages of being a child psychologist. If you work in private practice, you get to set the rates you charge clients. This means that you can have a much higher earning potential once you are established and have a clientele.

2. You could have a pretty flexible schedule.

Depending on where you work, your schedule could be pretty flexible. Analyzing your work schedule is definitely something that you need to consider when weighing the pros and cons of being a child psychologist. This is especially true for those that work in a private practice setting. You will be able to set your own hours and schedule of your patients around your day. If you land a job working in a school, you will be following the school calendar and have the summers and school breaks off. Your day will also most likely end around 3 pm, so you will have the flexibility to get things done after work.

3. You can work in many different settings.

As a child psychologist, your expertise can be beneficial to many different settings. We mentioned earlier that you can work in private practice or in the school setting, but that is not it. Other places that may fit you better are in the in-patient setting, the outpatient setting, in a community center, or you can work as a consultant. Having so much choice and control over your work environment is one of the top pros of being a child psychologist. Essentially there is a place for everyone.

4. You could be your own boss.

I know I have mentioned it before, and this will probably not be the last time, but you could be your own boss by having a private practice. Having your own private practice is pretty high up there on the list of the biggest advantages of being a child psychologist. Think of all benefits you could acquire from opening your own practice. You could be making an excellent salary, and you could be working the schedule that fits your life.

5. You will be able to have autonomy.

When you are practicing as a child psychologist, you will have the ability to complete your caseload as you see fit. During your sessions, you will be making decisions independently regarding your patient’s care and needs. Remember, you are an expert in the field.

6. You will encounter something new every day.

Each day that you are at work, you will encounter somebody and something different. This will add variety to your job, and you will not become bored. It will keep you on your toes. I mean, who wants to do the same thing day after day.

7. You can feel good about the work you are doing.

As a child psychologist, you will be helping children and their families on a daily basis. You will be positively impacting their lives and improving the quality of their lives. This is something to feel good about. Having this euphoric sense of helping others is one of the advantages of being a child psychologist. I mean, in how many jobs can you say at the end of the day that you improved somebody’s life.

8. You will be in demand.

More than ever in this day and age, your expertise will be in demand. This can be due to many issues that are facing society and children and adolescents today. Life is no longer as simple as it used to be. According to the Bureau of labor statistics, the job growth for this field is about 3% by the year 2029. Although the projected number may seem meager, it is right on par with other occupations. Your career choice is growing in a positive direction.

9. You can be proud of your career.

Choosing to become a child psychologist is a prestigious career choice. Think about all the blood, sweat, and tears it took to accomplish this goal. Not everyone is able to do it. Remember, you will be a highly educated medical professional. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

10. You could improve the field of child psychology.

Through your practice of the discipline and through research you may conduct, you have the potential of improving the field of child psychology. You could discover treatment modalities that could help children, adolescents, and their families. You may find protocols that work best for specific disorders and therefore improving the quality of life for your patients and their families. Giving children, adolescents, and their families a sense of control and normalcy in their lives is one of the pros of being a child psychologist.


The Bottom Line


The world of child psychology is a world that can definitely be rewarding, but it is also a world that is not for everyone. It is a path that if chosen, can be one of remuneration but also one of regret. The best way to establish if this path is right for you is to weigh the top 10 pros and cons of being a child psychologist. The list that I have just presented to you will definitely help you answer that nagging question of what are the pros and cons of being a child psychologist? So, all you have to do now is choose wisely for yourself.


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.