Careers in Developmental Psychology. Amy Kasch Developmental Psychology (PSY 241 B) Interest Project #3: Applications/Implications

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Careers in Developmental Psychology

Amy Kasch


The area of developmental psychology contains a wide range of different career choices. A college degree in child or developmental psychology—Bachelors, Masters or Doctoral—can provide background for any number of professional positions. Just a few of such positions include teaching, social work, providing mental health treatment to children with developmental disorders, and conducting research through an organization or a university. Depending on the level of education of an applicant, salaries and benefits within such job positions range, as well as the amount of professional training offered. Many careers in the field of developmental psychology require significant experience, whether working with children or conducting research, and it is important for an

applicant to be aware of the qualifications of a job position in order to make themselves a competitive candidate.


A position in the field of developmental psychology requiring a Masters degree involves similar work at a more experienced level. The St. David’s Child Development and Family Services Organization offers positions which provide therapy to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Multidisciplinary teams work to develop treatment programs for children and are involved in the classroom as well as in talking with parents and providing family therapy. Qualifications include a Masters degree in Psychology or a related field, 7-10 years of experience, proficiency in autism disorders and diagnostic evaluations, and verbal skills. Experiences working with families with developmentally delayed children as well as supervisory familiarity are also preferred qualities of


A career requiring further education, in the form of a Doctoral degree, as a research associate, involves research in the area of family well-being and children development policies. MDRC is focused on contributing to policy innovations by providing more knowledge about the effects on children of changing governmental policies, families’ socioeconomic status, parents’ mental health conditions, and children’s education. MDRC is looking for individuals with strong leadership qualities and research skills as well as knowledge regarding the theory of child development. Applicants must have a PhD in developmental psychology or a related field, experience with research design, and proficient written and oral skills.


benefits of the job pertain to training, essentially gaining experience for later, more qualified positions. The starting salary for this position is $30,000 to $35,000 a year, including health and dental insurance. Benefits include on-site graduate degree programs, tuition reimbursement, 2-5 weeks of paid vacation each year, as well as other varying accommodations. This position seems to be most tailored to younger individuals just starting out in a developmental psychology career.

The job requiring a Masters degree working with children with autism has an “open” starting salary, which indicates that applicants with varying qualification and more experience will be considered, their pay being tailored to their aptitude. This position requires much more leadership, as it involves leading parent and family support meetings and supervising mental health staff. This position requires more experience, which results in greater overall responsibility in areas such as diagnoses and program development. Additional benefits beyond increased responsibility and salary negotiation are not listed, although promotion to supervisory roles within 9 months of hire is


The position requiring a Doctoral degree provides even more responsibility and also requires more previous experience. Salary for this position is also listed as “open”, again alluding to more variance among candidates’ qualification levels as well as more potential for salary increase. Responsibilities for this position have more implications, including building a greater reputation for the organization through the development of policy innovations regarding governmental and social issues. MDRC builds on a strong foundation of past research, and they are looking for a highly qualified, highly


their research conduction and findings. Additional benefits of the position include support for interdisciplinary scholarship, teamwork, professional growth, advice from outside experts, and co-authorship of journal articles. Candidates for this position already have a firmly established background and reputation and are looking to further enhance their position in the field of developmental psychology, working more intimately with other individuals with similar and interdisciplinary skills.

In order to become a competitive candidate for a job as a childcare professional working for The New England Center for Children, I would need to complete my

education at St. Olaf and possibly gain more experience working with children. I already have sufficient experience in this area, as I have worked as a Parks and Recreation leader for children in my home community for four summers, although most children I work with are not developmentally disabled in any way. The main things I would need to work on to become a competitive candidate for this position would be to analyze my

aspirations, goals, and motivations for working with children and be able to identify and explain them, as well as portray them in practice.


could also volunteer at special needs facilities to gain experience working with developmentally disabled children. While still in school, I could become involved in organizations requiring leadership and organization, such as student government, in order to improve my leadership and initiative qualities.

In order to become a more competitive candidate for the Doctoral position

working as a research associate, I would need to complete my undergraduate education at St. Olaf, earn my PhD in developmental psychology while gaining sufficient research experience. In my research, I would enhance my expertise using surveys as a means of collecting data. I would also need to develop policies through my research which I could publish. To do these things, I would become involved in research through a graduate program director with interests in a similar area, and learn from them as well as experiment and study my own developed ideas. Since written and oral skills are also necessary for the position, I would take more speech classes and writing enhancement classes, and I would put myself in more situations requiring public speech.

Careers in the area of child development are extensive, including positions requiring varying levels of education and experience. Whether it be teaching, providing mental health therapy, or conducting research, child psychology is an area of education that can be applied to many careers pertaining to different focuses and interests. The most important factors in all such careers are experience in the field and a passion and drive for helping to better developmental problems and issues. Looking further into the details of such positions can provide insight into the seemingly endless career possibilities





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