Human Development is a psychology subspecialty that focuses on the development of children into becoming biologically and psychologically mature adults. It addresses changes in cognitive, motivational, psychophysiological and social functioning that occur over time.
How a child develops will go a long way in determining the course of his life. A number of external forces can influence the development of any child. These forces include whether he is raised in a happy and healthy environment; if he is the victim of abuse or neglect; and if he comes from a single parent household, to name a few.
What Does a Human Development Psychologist Do?
Human development psychologists work through observation and testing to determine the factors influencing a child’s growth and development. The age old argument between “nature vs. nurture” is on full display throughout this brand of psychologist’s workday, and the answers are often somewhere in between. By observing a child in his natural state, these professionals can tell a lot about how the child is progressing.
However, it is also important to survey the child and engage him in formal testing to know how cognitive skills are developing. By using a wide range of tools in the human development tool bag, a psychologist can diagnose issues, develop treatment plans or identify gifted and talented children.
Careers in Human Development
Many psychologists who choose the human development pathway for their careers genuinely find children fascinating, but they are not simply interested in the child himself, but also who he will become as adult years set in. Many work with at-risk persons, so it’s not uncommon to find a human development psychologist employed by hospitals, clinics or other medical facilities.
In more population-dense areas, individuals who have earned a human development degree may find consultancy and private practice very lucrative revenue channels. Whether taking appointments or serving as an expert witness for attorneys on both sides of the gavel, these psychology professionals have a niche that can earn them in the $80,000 to $100,000 or more range annually.
Obtaining a Human Development Degree
While some are able to find decent pay in the field with just a master’s degree, the top earning and most marketable psychologists hold a doctorate degree with some form of human development specialization. Due to the hands-on nature of the job, they are usually expected to complete 1-2 years of supervised practice and, possibly, a state exam before receiving licensure.