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Child psychologists deal specifically with the psychological, behavior, social and emotional needs of children. These professionals can work in a wide variety of settings including schools, private practice, hospitals and research settings. Child psychologists employed in school settings may help children struggling with behavior issues, while those who work in private therapy practices often assess, diagnose and treat specific mental disorders.
- Education: While there are some positions available with a master's degree, you will generally find a wider range of job opportunities at the doctoral level.
- Salary: The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2008 the median yearly salary for child psychologists was $64,000.
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School psychologists are dedicated to helping children succeed academically as well as socially and emotionally. These professions work within the school system, allying with educators, administrators, counselors and parents to help kids with school and other issues. School psychologists perform a wide range of functions including providing counseling, diagnosing learning problems, creating positive learning environments and designing specific behavioral interventions.
- Education: Most states require school psychologists to hold a specialist degree, although some do permit people to become licensed with a master's degree. An Ed.S. specialist degree in school psychology usually takes two years of graduate study plus a one-year internship in a supervised setting.
- Salary: The median annual salary for psychologists employed in elementary and secondary schools was $71,070 in 2010.
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Developmental psychologists study the human growth and development process. While some developmental psychologists are interested in the aging process or lifespan development, some choose to focus specifically on children. Developmental psychologists often conduct research on topics such as how language skills are acquired, how moral reasoning develops or how early childhood attachment impact later relationships. Other developmental psychologists work directly with children doing things such as determining if a child has a specific developmental delay or disability.
- Education: Most developmental psychologists hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in developmental psychology.
- Salary: In 2009, the median annual salary for developmental psychologists was between $69,007 and $90,326 according to the Salary Wizard at Salary.com.
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School counselors help students cope with school and personal issues as well helping them succeed academically. Counselors also offer educational, personal, career and social counseling services to students. These professionals often help students with academic planning such as choosing classes, determining which colleges they might want to attend and exploring various career options. They also offer advice and counseling to students struggling with personal problems, help resolve social conflicts and assist students in developing new skills.
- Education: In most states, graduation from an accredited master's program, a period of supervised clinical experience and the completion of state licensing exams are required to work as a school counselor.
- Salary: According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median yearly salary for a school counselor working in an elementary or secondary school was $57,800 in 2008.
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Family therapists work with children and families to diagnose and treat mental illness. They also help families deal with emotional, social, cognitive and behavior problems that affect individuals and the family as a whole. They may do this by offering therapy services to an individual as well as counseling sessions focused on the family unit.
- Education: Educational, licensing and certification requirements can vary by state. Many family therapists are licensed counselors who hold a master's degree in counseling. Others might hold a doctorate degree in psychology or a master's degree in social work.
- Salary: The Department of Labor reports that in 2010, the yearly median salary for family therapists was $45,720.
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Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field in psychology that involves offering therapeutic services with the assistance of pets. Research has shown that interacting with animals can have a number of benefits such as improving emotional, cognitive, social and physical functioning. While animal-assisted therapists can work with people of all ages, some choose to specialize in working with children suffering from physical or developmental difficulties such as delayed physical development or autism spectrum disorders.
- Education: At minimum, you will need a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, nursing, education or a related area. A graduate degree in counseling, social work, occupational therapy or psychology may lead to increased job opportunities and earnings. Additionally, you should receive training specifically in animal-assisted therapy. Some colleges and universities now offer an animal-assisted therapy certificate.
- Salary: Earnings can vary widely depending on training, qualifications and employment area. For example, physical therapists earn an average of $72,790 while psychologists earn an average of $64,140.
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Art therapists utilize art as an expressive medium to help people experiencing psychological distress and mental illness. Professionals in this field combine principles from psychotherapy with art and the creative process to enhance the well-being and mental health of their clients. Art therapists often work with children experiencing developmental delays, children suffering from anxiety and kids who have endured some type of trauma.
- Education: While specific requirements vary by state, most require you to become a licensed to provide psychotherapy services. This might involve earning a doctorate in psychology, a master's in counseling or a master's in social work. The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB) offers a credentialing program that allows professionals to become board-certified, registered or licensed art therapists.
- Salary: Yearly earnings can vary considerably based upon your educational background, years of experience and geographic location. National salary data from Payscale.com suggests that salaries for art therapists range from a low of $29,000 to a high of $63,000.
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Social workers perform a wide range of duties, but many specialize in working with children. Helping kids overcome behavior problems, finding resources in their communities to help young clients, protecting vulnerable clients to ensure their best interests are upheld and acting as advocates for children are just a few of the things that a social worker might do on a regular basis. Helping single parents, arranging foster care and adoptions and counseling children are common tasks that a social worker might perform.
Education: While a bachelor degree in social work is the minimum degree required to enter the field, jobs are more abundant with a master's degree in social work.
Salary: The National Association of Social Workers reports that those with a bachelor's degree usually start out with a yearly salary of around $30,000, while those with a master's earn around $40,000 to $50,000 a year.