Most people want a feeling of gratification from their chosen career path, and the field of psychology offers many chances to help others. Some psychology majors may decide to work with children, as it can be rewarding and challenging. Choosing a career centered on children requires patience, compassion and understanding. Here are some jobs a psychology major should consider if he or she wants to work with children.
Most schools require teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree, generally in education, but moving to a higher level of teaching in a specialized field may require a degree in that area. Elementary school teachers make around $54,000 a year, whereas middle school teachers pull in a little more at $55,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Elementary, middle and high school teachers typically create lesson plans, monitor students' progress and communicate with parents on students' progress. They may also have to work with students on a one-on-one level to navigate individual challenges, and prepare all students for standardized tests. With young students, teachers may create rules that enforce proper behavior.
High school teachers can expect an average salary of $57,000 and postsecondary teachers, who commonly have a Ph.D. or at least a master’s degree, make around $72,000. Postsecondary teachers advise students on which courses to take and on potential career paths, supervise graduate students, publish research and analysis and work with colleagues on creating curriculum in addition to creating lesson plans and monitoring student progress.
All teachers should have good communication, interpersonal and organizational skills, and be creative and resourceful. Teaching children typically requires more physical stamina and patience, while teaching older students may require more speaking and critical thinking skills.
2. Child Psychologist
Psychologists study behavior and brain function, usually collecting information through observations, experiments, interviews and other research methods. Child psychologists study milestones, emotional and mental well-being, behavioral issues and development from birth through adolescence. They work specifically on cognitive strategies and therapies to help younger patients work through whatever’s affecting them, whether it be environmental or emotional.
Employment of psychologists is projected to grow by 14 percent from 2014-2024, and a psychologist can expect to make around $72,000 a year. Child psychologists often earn a bachelor's in psychology and then a Ph.D. or a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. They may also specialize in an area of development. Psychologists must have superior analytical, communication, interpersonal and observational skills. They must also be patient and trustworthy, as they hold much information in confidence.
3. Marriage and Family Therapist
Therapy is another rapidly growing occupation, as the BLS predicts it will grow by 19 percent from 2014-2024. Marriage and family therapists help families, children and married couples work through emotional disorders and mental problems, along with helping them to understand those issues and helping with strategies to break through those problems. These therapists often help families navigate marital conflicts, substance abuse, domestic violence, grieving, infertility and other issues. Therapists may work in a hospital or in a private practice.
Marriage and family therapists must be compassionate and good listeners. They should also be well-organized and have good speaking skills. A typical therapist earns a bachelor's in psychology, a master’s degree in counseling and a license to practice, and makes about $43,000 yearly.
4. Art Therapist
Art therapy branches off from the traditional therapy setting. Art therapists help adults and children cope with mental, physical and emotional issues by incorporating art into counseling sessions. Art therapists can work in any place with any type of client, and create projects based on the type of patient and knowledge of how the artistic process affects people. They must be good at observing and listening, and be empathetic, patient and creative.
To become an art therapist, a bachelor’s degree in psychology or studio art is required, as well as a master’s degree in art therapy. Professional credentials are also required, and on average therapists are paid $55,000.
Psychiatrists work with mental health patients, and child psychiatrists work specifically with children. For example, child psychiatrists might create a treatment plan for a child on the autism spectrum that integrates multiple psychotherapies and techniques. Helping young patients and prescribing the correct medications can help change lives. Psychiatrists are paid around $193,680. A psychiatry job requires a medical degree and psychiatry certification.
Child psychiatrists have to communicate regularly with patients, families and staff. Psychiatrists should have good decision making, analysis, verbal and written communication, and organizational skills.
6. Occupational Therapy Assistant
Lots of children are in need of occupational therapy to help develop fine motor skills, correct walking techniques and many other issues. An occupational therapy assistant helps with improving those skills and are part of providing therapy to patients while working under the supervision of an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy assistants should be compassionate and detail-oriented, and have strong interpersonal skills and physical strength.
7. Child Welfare Specialist
Child welfare specialists and social workers hold positions in child protective services, as well as welfare programs. By providing counseling and support to children and families, they make government programs as successful as possible. Child welfare specialists are typically involved with family and community services such as child abuse/neglect investigations, shelter and group home services, foster care, adoption and court liaison activities. They manage caseloads and recommend appropriate programs and interventions for children and families.
8. School Counselor
A school counselor generally has a master’s degree, as well as a state-issued credential. Counselors work to assist students with academic success on elementary, middle, and high school levels, and post-graduation life, whether that be entering the workforce or going on to college. According to the American School Counselor Association, school counselors help in "areas of academic achievement, personal/social development and career development, ensuring today's students become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow."
As of May 2015, the average salary for a school counselor was $53,660.
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