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Adult Development

A career in adult development can provide you with a broad understanding of the various social and economic issues related to adult and elderly populations. Continue reading to learn more about academic options and career opportunities in the field of adult development.

Is Adult Development for Me?

Career Overview

Degree programs are available in adult development or human development at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In general, they're designed to help you acquire the skills you'll need to meet the economic, physical, social and psychological needs of adults through counseling and public policy work. Flexible programs may allow for the study of aging populations, family life, social policy or mediation and negotiation techniques. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers and human service assistants should be able to communicate well, manage time effectively and maintain relationships with others.

Career Options

As a qualified graduate of an adult development program, you may pursue a career in adult counseling, elder care or social work. Completion of a bachelor's degree program may lead to a job as a caseworker or human relations specialist. Graduate studies in adult development, psychology, social work or another related field of study may open the door to a position at a family service agency, employee assistance program or senior center, among other organizations.

Employment and Salary Information

As reported by the BLS, employment opportunities for social workers are projected to increase by 19% nationwide, or faster than average, from 2012-2022. By comparison, social and human service assistants can look forward to a 22%, or much-faster-than-average, growth in jobs through 2022. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for healthcare social workers was $50,820, while social and human assistants earned $29,230 a year, according to the BLS. In the same month, the median annual salary for social and community service managers was $61,160 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Adult Development?

Undergraduate Programs

In addition to adult development, undergraduate programs can lead to a bachelor's degree in human development. Overall, you'll learn how to help aging populations improve their quality of life while studying communication issues, mediation methods and theories of adult development. You'll also learn about the organizational procedures used in nursing homes, mental health facilities and public welfare agencies.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, you may pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Development program, which may allow you to conduct independent research in adult development or developmental psychology. You might also study adult counseling methods, the biology of adult development and human motivation. The diseases and public policies that can affect an aging population may also be covered in your program, as you learn how to work for the benefit of older adults and their families.

Certification and Licensing

According to the BLS, clinical social workers must be licensed by their states; exemptions may be allowed for those employed by the government. Although requirements can vary, clinical social workers usually need at least two years or 3,000 hours of supervised work experience before they can be certified. Specific state requirements might also apply to private practitioners or counselors who work with aging adults.