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 PsychologistAs 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.

Summary


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.