Undergraduate and graduate programs in human and family consumer sciences can offer you a wide range of career choices in education, administration or nutrition. Read on to learn more about jobs, degree and licensing requirements, career outlooks and earning potential.
The field of human and family consumer sciences involves helping people learn practical life skills to improve the quality of their family life. Professionals in this field can show people how to make economical purchases and become active members of their communities. They may educate others in food safety and nutrition, child development, parenting or financial planning, usually by conducting workshops or developing education programs in conjunction with local extension services and community centers. If you enjoy helping others and want to devote your career to strengthening family and community networks, then you might consider this area of work.
A variety of career options exist in human and family consumer sciences. Many professionals in this field work at middle and high schools, teaching a trade or vocation. Other job opportunities may be found in consumer journalism, nutritional science, social policy and human services.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected jobs for vocational teachers in general, which can include family and consumer science teachers, to grow by 9% between 2012 and 2022, which is slightly slower than the average for all occupations during that same decade (www.bls.gov); at the middle school and high school levels, these teachers can expect job growth of 5%. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of middle school career education teachers was $54,270 as of May 2013, while secondary school career education teachers earned a median wage of $55,120.
The BLS projected jobs for dietitians and nutritionists to grow 21% between 2012 and 2022, largely due to an increased focus on using diet as a preventive health measure. As of May 2013, dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $55,920.
Many colleges and universities offer programs in human and family consumer sciences, with degrees available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. The field encompasses many areas of study; for instance, you may pursue a related degree in design and merchandising, nutrition, family studies or human development. Some human and family consumer sciences degree programs are offered in conjunction with teacher education programs to prepare you for a career in education.
A human and family consumer sciences curriculum typically includes courses in child and adolescent development, health and wellness, textiles, psychology, sociology, personal finance and parenting. If you're pursuing an education track, you'll also take courses towards your teacher certification. These classes might include educational technology, teaching methods and assessments. You'll further complete a practicum to gain experience teaching in a classroom under the supervision of a licensed teacher. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) accredits undergraduate degree programs in this field (www.aafcs.org).
A master's degree program can also be taken in conjunction with a teacher certification program if you want to pursue higher education before working as a teacher. Online family and consumer sciences programs are offered by some schools as well.
In addition to formal education, you may consider earning professional credentials through such organizations as the AAFCS. For instance, you could become Certified in Family and Consumer Sciences or Certified in Human Development and Family Studies through the AAFCS by earning a bachelor's degree in the field and passing an exam. Professional development opportunities are also available through the Family and Consumer Sciences Education Association and the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
To earn your teaching certification for a teaching career, you'll typically need to pass an exam and complete continuing education, in addition to taking the education coursework and practicing your teaching skills in the classroom. If you wish to work as a dietitian or nutritionist, you'll want to check your state's specific licensure or certification requirements.