How to Become a Developmental Therapist


Developmental therapists are very important simply because human development is quite variable and is highly dependable on a number of factors some of which we have no control over. Children especially have varied levels of development and some of them will develop a lot faster than others and some may lag behind for a number of reasons. A developmental therapist will help families come up with strategies that will enable their children attain maximum physical and emotional development.

Education Requirements

The minimum educational requirement for a developmental therapist is an undergraduate degree in early childhood education, education, social work, or developmental psychology.  In addition to having an undergraduate degree in the above fields, anyone seeking to become a certified developmental therapist will have to apply for childhood education internships or work study programs during their junior year in college.

In order to be certified an applicant will have to demonstrate that they have fulfilled the requirement of having a specific number of hours of practical experience and a lot of employers will often prefer candidates with internship hours.

If you want to better your chances, you may want to apply for certification within your state social services agencies, hospitals, children hospitals, group homes or even private practices that are within your area.

Job Duties

Developmental therapists spend their careers studying human growth and their areas of study include physical development, cognitive, social, personality and emotional growth.

The duties of a developmental therapist will vary based on a number of factors one of them being their area of specialty. Some of them will choose to work with a specific demographic and population such as growth delayed children while others will specialize their services on a particular age range, such as adolescent.

Their major roles include;

  • Evaluating and analyzing children’s behavior to determine whether or not they have any developmental problems or disability.
  • Investigating the different ways in which children acquire language skills and whether or not they are able to acquire those skills in the right way and in an effective manner.
  • Determining how moral reasoning develops in children and try to decipher the way children are able to interpret moral reasoning.
  • Develop ways to help elderly individuals remain independent.

Developmental therapists will work in a number of settings; some are involved in educational settings such as teaching at colleges and universities and may also conduct research studies on particular topics.  Others work in government agencies with a number of roles such as evaluation of certain individuals suffering from developmental disabilities. Other places where developmental therapists can get gainful employment include teen rehabilitation clinics, psychiatric clinics and hospitals and centers for the homeless among others. Some of them even have private practices.


The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the average earnings for a developmental therapist in 2009 were between $69,007 and about $90,000 annually and the top ten 10% earners will have about $101,088 annually. The earnings will vary from one state to another and will also be dependent on a number of factors such as the level of employment, particular training for the individual developmental therapist and the work setting. The setting matters a lot as private practicing developmental therapists were seen to earn more than their salaried counterparts.

The U.S. Department of Labor expects that the profession will experience a lot of growth in the coming years as the demand for developmental therapists grows and the need for professionals to assess, evaluate and come up with diagnosis and treatment for people with developmental illnesses increases. It is also expected that a lot of developmental therapists will be required to work with returning veterans.

Licensing and Credentials

Most states will have a licensing process that anyone wishing to be a certified developmental therapist within the state will have to go through especially if they want to set up a private practice within the state.

Other Necessary Skills

There are a number of skills that a developmental therapist will have to poses in order to carry out their duties in the right manner. Some of these include;

  • A developmental therapist will have to posses analytical skills that are essential if they are going to be effective in gathering all the information that they will need to make a proper diagnosis.
  • One should also have essential social skills especially when dealing with children who are sensitive.
  • One should also be a good listener with ability to make a patient feel comfortable and welcomed.

Related Reading

Further Reading

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