How much does a child psychologist make? (Plus duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and how it influences behaviour. Child psychology is the study of behaviour development from conception to early adulthood and is an important specialism in the field of psychology. Learning more about child psychologists' salaries and opportunities for professional development in this sector may help you decide if this is the right career choice for you. In this article, we discuss the question 'How much does a child psychologist make?', what a career in child psychology involves, and how to develop a career in child psychology.

How much does a child psychologist make?

This section answers the question, 'How much does a child psychologist make?', by outlining the typical child psychology salary on the national pay scale. National healthcare services employ the highest number of child psychologists nationwide and understanding the pay scale is important when considering a career choice in the profession. The pay scale structure consists of the salary bands below:

  • Band 6: £30,000 to £37,000 (entry-level)

  • Band 7: £37,000 to £43,000

  • Band 8: £44,000 to £86,000

Within the bandings, there are different salaries according to experience and qualifications. At entry-level or training level, experience in related professions from sectors such as health care, education and social work is valid. Band 8 usually applies to psychotherapists who have accumulated advanced qualifications and several years of relevant experience.

Related: How to become a child psychologist (with specialisations)

High-cost area supplements

If you work in Greater London or surrounding counties you receive supplementary pay in addition to your basic salary at the following rates:

  • +20% if you work in inner London (minimum payment £4,608, maximum payment £7,907)

  • +15% if you work in outer London (minimum payment £3,898, maximum payment £4,967)

  • +5% if you work in the fringe zone (minimum payment £1,066, maximum payment £1.845)

Related: How much does a neuropsychologist make? (Plus what they do)

How much does a child psychologist make in the private sector?

The salary of a child psychologist can vary in the private sector, which does not regulate pay and where professionals usually set their own rates. While an average salary for a psychologist is £34,535 per year, various factors impact the rates a child psychologist might set, such as level of qualifications, experience, location and professional reputation. Child psychologists might offer lower rates if they're providing a service for lower-income families.

What does a child psychologist do?

The role of a child psychologist varies, and they work in a variety of settings to provide short- and long-term interventions with children. The child psychologist often treats cognitive problems, behavioural issues and mental health problems in children. Psychologists usually observe the child, respond to the behaviour the child is manifesting through play, verbal and non-verbal communication, assess them and suggest or provide treatment.

The profession entails several roles and responsibilities and primarily involves helping children grow into secure adults. This might mean providing individualised guidance for a child's social and emotional development. Often, a child psychologist may provide support to a child that's dealing with a transition or coping with a bereavement or trauma. Other job responsibilities might include:

  • assessing children and young people's emotional and mental states

  • developing positive relationships with the child and their family

  • diagnosing mental health issues like anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression in children

  • performing psychological tests

  • assessing learning support needs

  • communicating with parents, teachers and multidisciplinary professionals to implement treatments and plan the next steps

  • assessing the appropriateness of the child's educational environment and recommending a more suitable placement, if necessary.

  • implementing new strategies and ways of treating mental health issues in children and young people

  • researching recent developments and strategies in the profession

  • running a private practice, managing support staff, keeping confidential records and completing administrative tasks.

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Where does a child psychologist normally work?

In the public sector, child psychologists generally work in education, health and social care environments. They often work collaboratively within a team for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS). The most common settings for child psychologists are the following:

  • Schools: Psychologists often provide counselling services within schools. They might test children for cognitive difficulties and diagnose conditions like dyslexia or autism through the school, and often provide recommendations for teachers and parents to facilitate the child's learning and plan possibilities for interaction.

  • Hospitals: Psychologists might treat children with serious mental health problems in hospitals. They might also have patients who are in hospital due to disorders resulting from brain tumours, injuries or epilepsy.

  • Research: Child psychologists that work in research facilities often research how emotional, cognitive and traumatic issues impact children. Successful psychologists often publish new material to help parents, schools and children deal with problems that arise.

Child psychologists or psychotherapists running a private business usually see patients at their practice. Occasionally, they might arrange an appointment at the child's home or observe them in a school setting.

Related: Your guide to psychology jobs and common careers

Important skills for child psychologists

Working as a child psychologist is a rewarding profession that can make a huge difference in the lives of children and young people. Formal qualifications are essential to enter the profession and to succeed in a career in psychology it's also important to have a range of skills. Useful skills include:

  • Thorough knowledge of psychology: The ability to apply theory to practice is essential for child psychologists. An interest in research and an interest in staying abreast of developments and updates in the field.

  • Good observational skills: Attention to detail is important when observing children who can't always verbalise their feelings.

  • Balancing analytical skills with scientific knowledge and experience: This can help psychologists assess how environmental factors might impact a child's well being. This may help inform decision making.

  • Empathy: The ability to develop relationships with children from different backgrounds.

  • Communication skills: Child psychologists often consider their choice of words when asking a child questions to get a good understanding of the child. Attentive listening is also essential in making thorough evaluations.

  • Patience: Results can be slow and patients and families sometimes have high expectations. For psychologists, it takes time to build trust and develop relationships to support their patients effectively.

  • Sound judgement: This and attention to detail are key skills in making important decisions for young clients.

  • Resilience: This is important as sometimes the behaviour and background of the child might be distressing. To remain professional, psychiatrists keep a professional distance between themselves and their patients.

  • Teamwork: This is key in this profession as child psychologists often engage with teachers, parents, social workers and healthcare professionals to implement the best plan to help young patients.

  • Flexibility: A child psychologist may help their client and other professionals to manage their expectations of the treatments and interventions. A flexible approach is important to facilitate communication with different professionals.

  • Awareness of ethics: This is essential and it's imperative that psychologists respect client confidentiality. Prioritising the best interests of their patients is their legal responsibility.

What qualifications do I need to train as a child psychologist?

To become a child psychologist, it's essential to have a degree in psychology. The entry requirements for a degree course in psychology at university are usually five GCSE passes including English, maths and a science subject, along with two or three A levels. If you have a degree in another subject it's possible to do a conversion course over two years to get a degree in psychology. The psychology degree requires accreditation from The British Psychological Society (BPS). The next step in essential training is to do a BPS accredited doctorate postgraduate qualification in a specialism of your choice.

Competition for places on the doctorate course is high and a first or second class upper division degree classification is usually a prerequisite. Proven research experience in the clinical field and relevant work experience is essential. It's possible to get funding for the doctorate qualification, 203 Educational psychology funded training places are available. They provide details of funding on the website of the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) Once you have completed the doctorate qualification, you register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to start practising as a psychologist.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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