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Work & Family Studies

If you have good people skills and a desire to help families stay physically healthy and financially stable, you might consider a career in social work or community counseling. Whether you want to complete a bachelor's degree program in work and family studies or pursue graduate study in a related area, available job options and their educational requirements are outlined below.

Are Work and Family Studies for Me?

Professionals in the field of work and family studies are concerned with how cultural and socioeconomic factors affect a family's health and well-being. Working in this field, you could become a social worker, where you might find affordable housing for a family, or a marriage and family therapist, that could include helping couples communicate. You could work in an early childhood education setting, such as a daycare or preschool. Another option is case management, where you can help clients in a group home, youth services program or rehabilitation center access health care or vocational services. You could also develop educational or community programs for a YMCA, religious organization or community center.

This field might be ideal if you're interested in working closely with people. To be successful, you'll need good communication and problem solving-skills in order to understand a client's issues and concerns. You might also need the ability to recognize cultural factors affecting a family's structure and behavioral patterns. Finally, you should also have a strong desire to help improve people's lives and encourage independence.

Before setting your career goals, you might want to consider the employment outlooks for some of your job options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 16% growth in employment opportunities was projected for social workers, while a 14% increase in jobs was projected for marriage and family therapists through the 2008-2018 decade ( The BLS reported that this job growth could be primarily due to a growing elderly population in need of assistance from professionals, like social workers, and an increased recognition of the relevance of family and marriage counseling.

How Can I Start a Career in Work and Family Studies?

You can enter most positions in this field with a bachelor's degree in family studies or social work. Coursework includes topics in family relationships, child development and family education, and you might also be required to complete an internship with a hospital, charity or government agency. Social work programs include additional courses in program evaluation, social welfare, child development, aging and social policy. For some positions, you might need to pursue a Master of Social Work. To become a social worker, you'll typically need some form of licensure or certification through the state; some states require different licensing, depending on the type of work you perform or whether you supervise other social workers.

If you want to provide counseling services, an undergraduate degree in family studies or social work could also prepare you for a graduate program in marriage and family therapy. Coursework might include marital therapy methods, human sexuality and critical familial problems. Graduate-level curricula usually include a requisite number of clinical and practical supervised training hours to qualify you for state licensure. Earning board certification, such as that offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, could offer a substitute for state licensure testing, though you could still need to apply for a license.

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