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Careers in Child Psychology

By: Roger Cook - Updated: 20 Oct 2020 | comments*Discuss
Child Psychology Children Psychology

It is worth noting that there is no specialist child psychology division within the British Psychological Society (BPS) or particular career and training route. Instead, all types of psychologists may opt to specialise in working with children and this tends to be a product of post-training work choices rather than a particular training route.

If you want to specialise in working with children it is likely that you will opt to qualify with a specialism in one of:

  • Educational Psychology;
  • Clinical Psychology;
  • Counselling Psychology; or
  • Neuro Psychology.

Of these options, Educational Psychologists are most likely to work with children (but some do work with adults with learning difficulties) and Neuro Psychologists have the option to specialise in working with children at the end of the formal training. All these training options give different insights into child behaviour and influence the type of work you will undertake.

Training To Work As A Child Psychologist

As noted, unlike other aspects of psychology this is not a discrete training programme, instead psychologists from a variety of disciplines can opt to specialise in working with children.

The basic pattern of psychology training is similar amongst various specialisms in psychology. At its most basic you will need to have an undergraduate degree from a psychology course approved by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This will lead to what is technically called the Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR). Following this you will need to complete an approved postgraduate degree (and relevant training) leading to the status of Chartered Psychologist.

For all psychology programmes, competition is very intense for places on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes so it is important to be able to display interest so as to ensure selection.

At the undergraduate level most degrees follow a broadly similar curriculum. However, if you know you wish to specialise in working with children you may wish to study at a University that specialises in either Developmental or Family Psychology.

The pattern of post graduate training varies between disciplines. You will either need to undertake a three year programme leading to a doctorate or a one year programme leading to a MSc. In each case the courses will be a mix of study, placements and independent research

If you lack an approved degree in psychology you may still meet the first requirement to working as a Chartered Psychologist (i.e the GBR referred to above). You will need to complete either an approved conversion course or study for the BPS' own qualifying examination. All Chartered Psychologists need to have completed a relevant postgraduate degree.

If you have studied outside the UK, you will not only need to ensure that your underlying qualifications are seen as meeting the BPS' requirements.


Child Psychologists can work for Local Education Authorities (especially if you have specialised in Education Psychology), the NHS or in private practice. As with most other psychologists, there is often a need to work in multi-disciplinary teams with other educational or health professionals.

The training model is similar across the psychology professions. Essentially a sequence of an approved psychology undergraduate degree, suitable work experience and an approved post graduate degree. At the end of this training process, your likely starting salary will be around £25,000.

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i have level 7 child psychology -CPD Accredited, i like to start training or work experience is that posible with my qualification . thank you
bruna - 20-Oct-20 @ 12:01 PM
Hi I have a 2.1 degree in psychology, a PGCE (and 3 years employed as a teacher) and have worked as an educational psychologist since achieving my doctorate, for 8 years. What training would I need to do to become an child psychologist please?
H - 4-Jun-20 @ 7:15 PM
Hi, I currently work as a teaching assistant and I've worked with children with special needs. Prior to that I was a child minder. I want to further my career in child psychology but I don't know where to start. I had some information that I need to start with undergraduate degree and another information that said I could do a diploma course. I'm confused, please i need help to take the step in the right direction. I have a BA honours degree in Marketing and Mass Communications.
Miss O - 2-May-20 @ 5:20 PM
Hello I studied child Psychology through an International Correspondence School in the UK. May Iplease ask if tier 2 sponsorship is available for this type of job to work in the UK.
Nosipho - 15-Jul-19 @ 1:09 PM
Hello, I have recently graduated since July 2018 with a 2.1 BSc(hons) in psychology and will be studying this Sept 2019 in MSc child nursing for two years. However, I would like to eventually become a child psychologist. Can the the doctorate in educational psychology enable me to become this? And can i work with this doctorate (after 3 years completion) within both school and hospital i.e CAMHs settings? Please let me know Thank you!
Psych - 27-Jun-19 @ 2:23 PM
Hello, I have a MSc in Child Psychology and my Bachelors degree was in Literature and Psychology. I Would like advice from anyone as to how I should go forward with. What jobs should I be applying for? I want to work with Special needs children.
Fiona - 14-Nov-17 @ 12:10 PM
Hi, I have just passed my BA (Hons) Primary Education (Work-based Route), with a 2.2. and also am half way through my Psychometric Access Arrangements course. I am wondering what and where to go with this. I have signed up to do my masters in Child psychology in Sept 2017. But not sure, as would like to become an Educational Psychologist. Can you help me to Come to a decision.
Nicki - 8-Aug-17 @ 4:45 PM
Nicho - Your Question:
I have a BA in Education and English. I currently work in a special school and have a keen interest in psychology. Would I need to do a conversion course to progress to a child psychologist?

Our Response:
You may be able to do a one year conversion course. Contact the British Psychological Society for more information.
CareersInPsychology - 28-Jul-17 @ 11:48 AM
I have a BA in Education and English. I currently work in a special school and have a keen interest in psychology. Would I need to do a conversion course to progress to a child psychologist?
Nicho - 25-Jul-17 @ 9:52 PM
I have a 2:1 BA(HONS) degree in primary education and have recently passed my postgraduate certificate in special education needs. I have 4 years experience teaching in a primar school alongside working with children with additional needs. I am considering a career change into child psychology. This article is very useful however I would like some advice on where to go next. Would I need to complete a conversion course or just a masters in psychology to further my study. Then would I be able to specialise in child psychology and what route would I then need to take to be employed as a child psychologist (is this something I can move into straight away or work my way int through joining other psychology practise)? Thank you!
AEL - 17-Jul-17 @ 8:48 PM
Hi, I have a 2:2 in educational psychology and have 8years experience working with children who have additional needs in a primary. I want to take my career further as a child Psychologist but don't know where to go as most further study course want a 2:1 or above?? Help feeling stuck??
statsmt - 16-Sep-16 @ 5:46 PM
Hello, I have 2:1 BA degree in tourism management. but never worked in tourism. however I am extremely interested in child psychology (especially - gifted children/adults) and thus would love to study in this field to get qualtification and work as a child psychologist after that. can you please advice what I need to do? can i convert somehow and study postgraduate course in psychology, please? thank you
pulpetik - 30-Jul-15 @ 8:43 PM
@yesplease. If the above article doesn't provide your answers you could try looking at the National Careers Service Website.
CareersInPsychology - 28-Jan-15 @ 12:27 PM
I'm in sixth form and am considering a career in child psychology.Could anyone tell me what kind of careers can branch off of starting out as a child psychologist (e.g what jobs are available "further up the ranks")?
YesPlease - 26-Jan-15 @ 1:21 PM
Hi, I'm a 30 year old male and my background and education is in film and media production. About 3 years ago I decided on a career change towards work which I found more satisfying, so I started working at schools and through that I moved into doing one to one support roles with children who have behavioural problems. For the past 18 months I've been working as a senior support worker/unqualified PE teacher at a school for children with emotional and behavioural problems whilst studying towards a masters degree in Psychology. I now have my masters and am coming to the end of the school year, so I need to consider my next steps, this is at request of the school. As you can probably tell from the above, I have a lot of strings to my bow; I'm quite creative, sporty, technical (good with computers) and I have an understanding of children's development and an ability to be patient, strong and considerate when it comes to children with challenging behaviour. I have lots of empathy with them, mostly due to my own personal therapy sessions, which I've had for 4-5 years now, which gave me a real insight into my childhood and how it developed who I am today! I guess I'd like some guidance as to my next steps. I'm drawn to training to become a child counsellor/therapist of some kind. I'd like to find a course to get qualified for a role and to specifically learn about mental disorders which can affect children, such as ADHD, ODD, Autism, Aspergers etc. I'm based in London and I wondered if anyone could point me in the right direction. Thank you!
AWM - 5-Jul-14 @ 9:26 AM
@girl17. Many UK universitiesoffer neuropsychology courses, so it depends on which area of the country you would like to be a student and which course you feel suits you best. You will need to attain goodgrades in the relevant subjects at A level. Look at as many University prospectuses as you can to decide which A levels to take, then sign up with your local FE/6th form college/School 6th form etc. Good luck
CareersInPsychology - 1-Jul-14 @ 11:49 AM
Im almost done with high school and i want to study neuro psychology abroad which colleges can i apply to?
girl17 - 29-Jun-14 @ 8:13 AM
I am currently an English teacher, teaching secondary school.I would like to retrain as an educational psychologist - where do I start?I have looked into courses but I'm really struggling to understand ifcan covert my English degree and do an access course or whether I need complete a 3 year psychology degree.
Aims - 19-Feb-12 @ 11:03 AM
I have a BSC (Hons)in Criminology with the OU and currently I am a serving Police sergeant as a custody officer and I retire in Two Years. I want to train as a Child Psychologist when I retire in particular with children with Asperges. What course(s) would you reccomend so I can train as a Child Psychologist?Can anyone help as too what courses i would need too do?(post grad etc)
ROSIE - 7-Feb-12 @ 11:39 AM
hello, thank you this article was very useful, as i am currently studying my GCSE's and have been looking at the A levels available ad my community college and psychology is one, and this article has really helped. i am rather interested in child psychology do you have any articles based on this. many thanks x
Hannah - 15-Jul-11 @ 5:15 PM
Hi, I am currently studying "working with children, young people and families" and entering my 2nd year at uni. The idea of behavioural psychology among children realy interests me, idealy with an educational setting however this is not a must. Would love some help in finding out more about a career with behavioural psychology such as requirements, training, books, anything. Thank you
David - 23-Jun-11 @ 8:52 PM
Hi, this post is very useful and interesting. I am 13 years old & very interested in Child Psychology as a career. I would definitely like to work with children as my career and am also interested in psychology and how our brains work. I had no idea there was so many types of Child Psychologist, and the study requirements. Thanks.
Bethany - 25-Apr-11 @ 10:33 AM
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