Become A Child Development Specialist: Education And Career Roadmap

The child development specialist field is growing, and there are many opportunities to become an expert in this area.

You can work from home or in a center or school, but it’s important that you learn about the education and preparation needed to get started.

This article will show how to become a child development specialist by outlining the education and career roadmap and offering insight into what your path will look like along the way.

What Is A Child Development Specialist?

Child development specialists evaluate the physical and psychological development of school-aged children and younger, design and implement therapy plans, and document the child’s progress.

These child development and education professionals may work in schools, childcare facilities, hospitals, or public and private clinics.

Although they can work with children with a variety of needs, they may specialize in working with children with developmental or physical disabilities, neuroatypical, or trauma.

Child Development Specialist: Career Roadmap

The first step in becoming a child development specialist is deciding which training is best suited for your goals. There are different types of training: 

  • Preschool teacher preparation programs, 
  • School administrator certification programs (including those offered through university-level schools)

Other advanced degrees, such as doctorate degrees or post-doctoral programs, allow individuals with clinical experience in special fields within psychology departments or pediatric psychology clinics. 

These are done at medical institutions, where they work closely with doctors who specialize in treating mentally challenged patients. 

How To Become A Child Development Specialist

Get A Degree In Psychology

Developmental therapist training begins at the bachelor’s level. If you or your friends are interested in a career as a child development specialist, you should start by completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

At this level, you won’t be able to earn a child development specialist degree yet. A degree in general psychology is accepted, although if you get the chance to focus on child psychology at all, that might be an advantage. 

One degree often preferred, if available, is applied psychology with a concentration in child advocacy. 

Your studies will include general psychology, learning and motivation, lifelong development, neurology, biology, anatomy, trauma response, and other studies related to child psychology and development.

Read Also: How Much Do Catholic School Teachers Make In California?

Participate in an internship or internship. Aspiring child development professionals looking to gain experience in the field may benefit from participating in an internship. 

Some colleges require education students to complete an internship. Students who complete an internship have the opportunity to observe seasoned professional teachers using best practices in the classroom, and this experience can add value to their professional profile when seeking employment after graduation.

Specialization in applied psychology with a focus on child advocacy. This program focuses specifically on childhood issues, developmental disorders, clinical assessment and treatment methods, multicultural influences, childhood development from birth to adolescence, and much more.

Apply For A Child Development Associate Credential

Some employers may prefer child development specialists to hold the Child Development Associate or CDA credential before working with young children. 

The CDA is an international credential awarded by the Council on Professional Recognition to those who demonstrate competency to a core set of professional standards through the necessary educational and work experience requirements. 

Applicants can work at CDA in four settings: preschool, infant, and toddler programs, family child care programs, and home visitor programs. 

Applicants will be asked to demonstrate their ability to meet the competency standards by taking an exam.

Career Requirements

Starting with the right education is important. Employers are looking for someone who has at least a bachelor’s degree. Some roles require a master’s degree. 

The field of study is applied psychology, focusing on child advocacy or school psychology.

Optional Child Development Associate or CDA certification is available. School psychologists must be licensed. The required amount of experience may vary by employer.

The jobs of child development specialists require a number of specific skills. Here are just a few things a childcare development specialist can strive to cultivate throughout their career:

  • A strong desire to help children
  • Ability to face challenges calmly
  • Professionalism tempered with empathy and sensitivity
  • Excellent communication skills
  • The ability to be in contact with parents, carers, and other adults in the child’s life
  • Ability to adapt your approach to the needs of the child
  • Understanding various developmental disorders and neuroatypical manifestations in children

Child Development Specialist: Education

You will need to be well-prepared in order to become a child development specialist. The first step is earning your high school diploma or GED and then getting an associate’s degree from an accredited institution. 

After earning this credential, you can gain a master’s degree in education or behavioral sciences with a specialization in early childhood development (ECD). 

If you have both degrees, it will make sense for you to seek certification as an ECD specialist by completing the Board of Certified Child Development Specialists (BCDCS) examination and passing all sections of the examination within two years after graduation.

If your goal is simply to work in this field but don’t want any formal training or certification required before entering the workforce, then consider pursuing professional development courses. These courses can be through organizations such as:

  • The National Association For The Education Of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Council For Exceptional Children (CEC), 
  • American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP), 
  • American School Counselor Association (ASCA), 
  • International Society For Child Development Intex(ISCDI), and more.

Child Developmental Specialist: Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics poses that the average salary for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists as of May 2019 was $78,200. However, the top 10% of professionals in this field earned $132,670 during the same time period. 

The highest paying industries for this career, based on average salary, are child day care services ($120,130), home health care services ($105,440), and general practitioner offices ($100,300). 

The top-paying states, again by average wages, were reported as Oregon ($112,010), California ($111,750), Washington, DC ($106,900), New York ($96,170), and Louisiana ($96,040). 

The job outlook for child specialists is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029, which is only slightly slower than the average for all U.S. occupations.


How Do You Become An Expert In Child Development?

To become a child development specialist, candidates must first have a high school diploma or GED. 

Additionally, candidates must complete a four-year program to earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in applied psychology, focusing on child advocacy.

How Do I Become A Child Development Specialist In Australia?

A degree in early childhood or child development is required to become an early childhood specialist. You should also have experience working with young children in the classroom.

How Much Does A Child Development Specialist Make In California?

As of November 9, 2022, the average annual salary for a child development specialist in California is $36,433 per year. In case you need a simple wage calculator, this works out to about $17.52 per hour.

What Is A Development Specialist?

A development specialist works across organizations to secure funding and sponsorship. From helping department heads create fundraising plans, maintaining donor relationships, and securing new ones, the Development Coordinator supports the company’s initiatives through active partner-seeking.

What Is The Highest-Paying Job In Child Development?

Special education teachers who work in the field of early childhood education have the potential to make nearly six figures annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Can I Do With My ECD Level 4 Certificate?

You would be able to prepare for early childhood development. You can also facilitate and monitor the development of babies, toddlers, and young children while providing care and support to them.

How Long Does An Ecd Course Take?

The minimum time for completion is 12 months, and the maximum time is 24 months.

How Much Is The Programmer’s Salary?

The average salary for an entry-level programmer in the United States is $85,293 as of October 27, but the salary range is typically between $75,042 and $96, 453.

How Much Do Child Life Specialists Make An Hour In California?

As of November 13, 2022, the average annual salary for a Child LIFE Specialist in California is $43,254 per year. 

In case you need a simple wage calculator, this works out to about $20.80 per hour. That’s the equivalent of $831/week or $3,604/month.

How Do I Become A Certified Child Development Associate In California?

Complete an associate degree or 60-semester units. Complete six additional semester units of coursework in the administration and supervision of child care and development programs.

These units must consist of two courses: one introductory course and one advanced course or two courses with different thematic content.


We hope this article has given you a better idea of the career roadmap and requirements to become a child development specialist. 

If you’re interested in pursuing this career path, we recommend that you check out this article with full concentration; it serves as a gearhead with good insights to becoming a Child development specialist.

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