5 Job Settings for Developmental Psychologists

developmental psychology environments

Common Work Environments in Developmental Psychology

  • Research and Educational Centers
  • Assisted Living Environments
  • Homeless and Teen Outreach Programs
  • General and Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Clinical Practice

As experts in the maturation and changes in human behavior and health over time, developmental psychologists have many options when choosing a long-term work environment. Some contribute to the field by conducting studies and drawing conclusions, while others serve patients directly through counseling and therapy. While a doctoral degree is typically required to start a career, the academic challenges yield significant flexibility in a growing and diverse professional field.

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Research and Educational Centers

Developmental psychology is a research-oriented discipline compared to those oriented around individual care, like behavior analysis. Doctoral students who completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) rather than Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) often pursue research roles after graduating. Formal research takes many forms, although it usually involves a lot of time spent curating, examining and evaluating information in an office environment. Psychologists may also design and conduct studies as part of their faculty duties at an academic institution.

Assisted Living Environments

The field of developmental psychology has strong connections to maturity and growth in children, but it also has many applications in gerontology as well. With an increasingly large aging population, nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the United States have a strong demand for qualified professionals. Psychologists may help develop policies and practices for implementation throughout the institution or work directly with individual patients.

Homeless and Teen Outreach Programs

Some developmental psychologists use their skills to support teen or homeless youth outreach programs, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). These outreach efforts typically seek to address the underlying factors behind negative behavior and try to foster a more productive, healthy mentality in younger people. Psychologists often spend time with individual patients to identify potential developmental disorders and develop a strategy for overcoming personal challenges.

General and Psychiatric Hospitals

Both private and public hospitals employ a wide range of licensed professionals to maintain a strong and diverse team of caregivers. Most institutions have multiple psychologists, including those focused on developmental issues, who work with other team members to address patient needs. With a direct focus on mental health concerns, psychiatric care facilities also maintain a professional team that includes experts in human psychological development.

Clinical Practice

Clinics often incorporate the skills of many different psychological and health professionals to deliver effective services to clients. Professionals may work as the primary point of contact for a client or as a single member of a larger team. Clinical psychologists not only need a firm grasp on their field, but also the ability to engage and interact with many different people on a daily basis.


Flexibility is an important career quality for many new professionals, which makes developmental psychology an appealing choice. Students willing to complete a doctoral degree enjoy a diverse selection of job settings and professional paths once they launch their career.

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