Child Development Sciences

A program in child development science could lead to a career in counseling, education or social work, as well as the chance to improve the lives of children and families. Read on to learn more about the educational, employment and licensing options associated with the field of child development science.

Are Child Development Sciences for Me?

Career Overview

The term child development science refers to the study of children throughout their growth cycle, from birth through adolescence. A child development program typically includes topics in behavioral and social science, and can provide you with the opportunity to learn about the research methods, research findings and theories associated with the field. You'll also learn about the role adults play in nourishing intellectual, social and physical growth in children, as well as the need for early invention when identifying and addressing developmental problems.

Career Options

Studies in child development science can lead to a number of related careers. For example, completion of a bachelor's degree program in child development may help you prepare for entry-level work as a social worker or teacher's assistant. You may also pursue a teacher's license or be a child development consultant. Work settings include hospitals, elementary schools or community centers. A bachelor's degree program in child development science can also lay the groundwork for an advanced education and a career as a pediatrician, pediatric nurse or school psychologist.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for childcare workers in May 2013 was $19,600. Elementary school teachers, with the exception of those teaching special education students, earned a median salary of $53,590 as of the same year.

As of May 2013, clinical, counseling and school psychologists had median annual incomes of $67,760, while child, family and school social workers earned $42,120. As reported by the BLS, childcare workers, psychologists and teachers can expect an average growth in employment between 2012 and 2022; opportunities for social workers in general will increase by a faster-than-average rate during the same 10-year period (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Child Development Sciences?

Associate Degree Programs

Child development degree and certificate programs are offered at several levels. An associate degree in child development typically takes about two years to complete and can help you prepare for a position in a daycare center, as well as a business- or hospital- sponsored childcare program. In addition to topics in child development and psychology, expect to take general education courses in English, math and the humanities. While state education and licensing requirements can vary, the Child Development Associate credential (CDA), available through the Council for Professional Recognition, can serve as proof of competency in the field (www.cdacouncil.org).

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor's degree programs in child development can provide you the broad educational background and skills you need to work with children in a number of academic or care-related environments. Coursework might cover topics in child growth and development, adolescent development or human nutrition. Hands-on experiences can include the opportunity to interact with children in a preschool or other mainstream setting. Educational programs may lead to licensure and the opportunity to teach at the pre-kindergarten or elementary school level.

Graduate Degree Programs

A master's or doctoral degree in child development, education or psychology is usually required to secure a job as an academic or counselor. To obtain a position as a social worker, you'll most likely need to complete a Master of Social Work (MSW) program, one of the prerequisites for a state-issued license. While requirements vary by state, school psychologists also need a professional certification or license. Completion of a doctoral program in a relevant field of study may also qualify you for a research or teaching position at a 4-year college or university.

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