If you love working with children of any age or ability, or you love the challenge of helping families by developing programs, consider looking into a career in child development. Child development careers can take you into just about any facet of business and education, whether you want to work directly with kids, or you want to develop products and programs around them.
Types of Child Development Careers
Ultimately the type of career path you end up following in child development will be largely dictated by your education and experience. Having a bachelor’s degree will allow you to work in most entry-level positions, while advanced degrees are required to take higher positions. If you think this type of career may be a good fit for you, consider taking a course in human development as a starting point, or getting your bachelor’s and working in the field for a while before continuing your education.
Child development careers can be easily broken down by sector. Depending upon where your interests lay, you can work in just about any field that has an intersecting interest point.
Child Care Careers
One way to approach a child development career is through child care. Child care can be found in several different sectors including:
- Religious organizations
- Day cares
- In private homes
You may also be able to specialize in early child development, helping parents learn how to get sleep success in young children and infants, or studying and developing programs on fine motor development. Working in Head Start or in Extended Day programs with young children is also a possibility as a way to specialize.
To work in child care as a child development career, you should:
- Make sure you have the stamina to work with young children
- Get the appropriate licenses or degrees necessary to work with schools or day care centers
- Gain some experience working with young children in a variety of settings and from a variety of backgrounds
- Learn how to communicate effectively with parents
Careers in Education
A career in child development can easily open the door to working in an education setting. This may be through teaching, but it can also encompass a wide range of other needs such as:
- Family science
- Curriculum development
- Parent education
- Early childhood and special education
You may work for public or private schools, as well as colleges, adult education programs, publishing houses, or child or adult special education programs.
If you plan to work in the education sector, you will need to get the appropriate degrees or certification. To teach, you would need to get the requisite teaching certification, while research, curriculum development, counseling, and other facets will require advanced degrees. You may also want to intern in your chosen position or take a part time job as an aid to gain the experience necessary to succeed.
Community Services Careers
Child development careers are a great place to give back to your community, working with kids, teens, and adults right in the city where you live. Working in child development for your community, you may work at:
- A community center such as the YMCA
- Rehab organizations
- Adoption agencies
- Summer camps
- Religious organizations
Your duties may be administrative or in programming, research, or program development. You may work directly with kids, or you may train others to work with and develop programs to help at-risk communities.
To work in community services as a child development specialist, you should try to gain experience by volunteering at organizations in your area. You may also want to seek related work experience, working at summer camps or community centers. Developing strong grant writing skills, as well as a strong public speaking presence will also help you in your career.
Very often child development careers and those in the social services intersect with one another. This type of career focuses on:
- Case management
You may work for a variety of different employers including:
- Group homes
- Religious organizations
- Youth services
- Organizations focused on families
You may work with parents and kids together, or you may work to build specific programs within an organization. To develop and get started in this type of career, you should work on getting advanced degrees in social work, sociology, or psychology. You may also need to get the appropriate certifications in mental health counseling, or pursue advanced degrees to work on most administrative positions. Getting some experience through volunteering or through internships is also a good idea.
Medical child development careers may center on assisting children and families with meeting specific goals, such as occupational therapy or working as a Child Life specialist. You would work with hospitals, hospices, and other healthcare facilities to help improve the quality of children’s lives, or teach them basic skills they may need to live and work on their own.
To get a job in this field, you will need an advanced degree in social work or counseling, and you may want to get some experience working in a health care setting. Volunteering at hospitals is a good place to begin.
Government-based child development careers can focus on a number of different sectors, many of which intersect with private areas. These include things like:
- Social services
- Program development
Working for a government agency, you may find yourself employed:
- In local government agencies, such as state or federal offices
- At mental health facilities
- At military child care programs
- At Women’s protective agencies
To gain this type of job you should work on skills such as public speaking. You may also need to take relevant courses in related fields, such as social work, and be prepared to get to know each government agency’s application program. Try to find an internship with a local government office if possible to help get relevant job experience.
Many areas of the communications sector require child development specialists to help give advice, craft programs, or produce content. Examples of employers include:
- Book publishers
- News agencies
- Television studios
- Radio studios
- Recording studios
To get this type of job, you may need to minor in communications studies, as well as get an internship at a related organization. You will also need to display good communication skills in both presenting and in writing to show you can get your point across clearly.
Businesses and Retail Locations
Many businesses need child development specialists to help them develop, sell, and market products aimed at children. Your work might be in product development, sales, marketing, or management in a number of different places, such as:
- Manufacturers of children’s clothing or toys
- Service organizations
- Department or retail stores aimed at children’s goods
To get a job in this sector you’ll need good business skills and experience, including a minor in business, along with related experience or an internship in this area.
Get Started on a New Career Today
If you’re considering a child development career, you have a lot of options to choose from. Find out if this is the right path for you by taking a course in discovering your calling. If you do decide to go down the path of child development, you’re sure to find a fulfilling career with many different options and choices so you can tailor your career to your personal strengths and interests. Child development careers are found in every sector around the globe; take the first steps to finding out if this is the right path for you and get started on a new career today.