If you enjoy working with children, you should consider a career in child development because careers in this field involve working with children on a daily basis. The five most rewarding careers in child development all require helping children meet milestones and tracking their development either physically, academically, spiritually or emotionally. Many of the most rewarding careers in child development require additional education beyond your basic child development degree.
Elementary school teachers, particularly those who teach pre-kindergarten through third grade, are more concerned with a child’s development than any other age. While all teachers work with children developmentally on some level, elementary school teachers have the responsibility of teaching children how to complete basic skills, such as read, write, add and subtract, and basic manners, such as taking turns, using proper etiquette while eating and saying “thank you.” As they watch their students grow and develop, many elementary school teachers begin to feel a sense of pride in their accomplishment and enjoy watching students move on to the next level. In order to be an elementary school teacher, you must take classes in education and receive teacher certification in addition to taking basic child development courses.
Child psychologists typically work with children from birth through their teenage years and monitor their mental, emotional and social development. A psychologist’s job is rewarding because of the ability to help children solve problems. The role of a child psychologist varies by child. Some psychologists may diagnose learning disabilities in children, while other may help children overcome behavior issues or learn to cope with traumatic events. Most child psychologists have a doctorate in psychology, in addition to an undergraduate education focusing on psychology or child development. A similar position that only requires a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree is a child counselor.
Pediatricians are doctors who work directly with children. A pediatrician may work in a family practice and see children for annual check-ups and to diagnose minor illnesses or may choose to specialize in a field of medicine, such as pediatric orthopedics or pediatric surgery. In order to become a pediatrician, you must graduate from medical school, which means at least eight years of schooling. Not only do pediatricians usually command high salaries, but they make sure children are healthy and have the ability to treat children in most cases of illness.
Youth ministers help children develop emotionally and spiritually. These individuals are typically hired by a church to prepare curriculum for Sunday school programs and lead children’s worship and family activities at the church. Many youth ministers also work directly with teenagers as they lead church youth groups. Becoming a youth minister does not necessarily require any formal education, but most churches prefer someone who has a degree in child development with a focus on religious education.
Many community service organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and the YMCA, work directly with children. Positions with these organizations are typically low-paid because they are funded by donations. A career with a community service organization often involves working with disadvantaged children. Your position may involve working directly with children through after-school programs and special events or organizing fundraising drives to provide money and other items for needy children.