Daniel Merrier is an instructional designer with a specialty in accessibility and special education.
Working with children can lead to many rewarding career choices—but where do you start? As with almost any job, additional education can open up new doors. Here are six great degree pathways for those looking for a career that involves supporting children.
1. Early Childhood Education
Degree types: Associate's and bachelor's
Typical courses offered: Child development, curriculum methods, and instructional design
Career choices: Daycare professional, primary school teacher
While this might be fairly obvious, childhood development is a wonderful option for those looking to work directly with children. The emphasis in your courses will be on how to facilitate and ensure the healthy mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being of the children in your care. This major typically leads to a very hands-on career in daycare or educational environments.
The path from early childhood education to a career field with children is fairly straightforward—most who earn a degree through this program teach in primary schools or are daycare professionals. There are a variety of approaches to early childcare and education, from Montessori to High Scope and more. It's important to get a taste of these different techniques while you're in school, particularly if you plan on specializing.
2. Human Development and Family Studies
Degree type: Bachelor's
Typical courses: Human lifespan development, human sexuality, and contemporary family issues
Career choices: Childcare worker, marriage and family therapist
Human development and family studies is a major suited to those who like to examine the family dynamic at many different angles. While this field of study is typically more generalized, family studies work can have a great impact on a child's development.
This degree program is particularly hands-on; as a student, it's likely you will work in community centers and daycares. You will likely be expected to work with families from a variety of economic backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems.
3. Urban Studies
Degree types: Bachelor's
Typical courses offered: Human geography, urban policy, and research methods for social science
Career choices: Urban planner, community organizer, or public interest activist
Urban studies is an innovative, inspiring major that allows you to learn about life in the city and how it shapes the people who live there. Urban areas are also likely to be home to underserved populations who could use your expertise the most.
Typically, this degree program offers a lot of flexibility in concentration areas, whether your interest is sociology, city planning, or community activism.
You will likely deal with controversial topics and have to make important decisions on divisive issues. Internships are an important part of this major, and it's helpful to ensure that your university helps place you after graduation. Urban studies is a competitive and fast-paced field.
4. Nursing (RN)
Degree types: Associate's and bachelor's
Typical courses offered: Pharmacology, nutrition, and psychology
Career choices: Registered nurse
Being a healthcare worker can be one of the most rewarding and challenging careers on the planet. Be prepared to have a heavy focus on math and science and quickly absorb information on anatomy, physiology, and human development.
Nurses can work in a variety of environments—in hospitals, doctor's offices, mental health institutions, and even schools. Working in a school or pediatric care environment would be the best career for those who enjoy working directly with children.
Degree types: Bachelor's, often leads to graduate school
Typical courses offered: Learning, neuroscience, and statistical methods
Psychology is a field of science that is constantly advancing. We are always learning more about how the body and mind interact. While most people think of troubled minds when psychology is mentioned, it affects everyone from all walks of life and varying levels of mental health.
Psychology allows us to explore a variety of topics that affect children—from experimental parenting methods to how bullying affects the developing brain. This field can lead to a pediatric specialization where you can work with children from all kinds of backgrounds.
Degree types: Bachelor's, master's, and PhD
Examples of typical courses offered: Educational psychology, supervised student teaching, and philosophy of education
An education degree can lead to a long, rewarding career in teaching or educational administration. It also puts you on an easy path to work with children of almost any age. It involves a lot of examining educational methods and discussing how you would implement or change them in a real-life classroom.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Daniel Merrier