Child Development Jobs: 10 Careers You Can Pursue With a Child Development Degree

teacher helping a preschool aged student

Do you feel a calling to help children grow, develop, and overcome challenges? There are a variety of occupations that help with children’s development, and not just within the education sector. A degree in child development can lead to many opportunities to help children be healthy, happy, safe, and well-adjusted to the world around them.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics details incredible work opportunities within child development that are experiencing rapid growth. Here are ten fulfilling careers you can pursue with a child development degree.

What is a B.A. in Child Development?

Child development is a social science that seeks to understand normal, healthy development of children and adolescents as well as atypical development. With this program, you’ll learn professional skills to help fulfill the needs of children and families in everyday life and in exceptional circumstances. This program isn’t limited to a specific industry or age group, you can invest in whichever environment you feel the strongest calling.

What jobs can you pursue with a child development degree?

There are many different child development career options to choose from. Take a look at our list below. 

10 child development jobs: social worker, occupational therapist, behavioral specialist, preschool teacher, child life specialist, special education teacher, speech pathologist, parent educator, children's or youth ministry leader. Graphics of an open book and books stacked are on the top and bottom of the image.

1. Social worker

  • Average annual salary: $50,390
  • Education requirements: bachelor’s degree (non-clinical); master’s degree (clinical)
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 12% (faster than average)

Social workers help individuals and families cope with a variety of problems in everyday life. They help children and families adjust to challenges like illness, divorce, adoption, addiction, or unemployment. Social workers also refer clients to other resources or intervene during emergency situations like cases of neglect and abuse.

Clinical social workers are specially licensed to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, and may specialize in specific areas.

2. Preschool teacher

  • Average annual salary: $30,210
  • Education requirements: associate degree
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 18% (much faster than average)

Preschool teachers help teach and care for students younger than 5 to prepare them for kindergarten. Preschool teachers help students learn simple concepts like shapes, colors, letters, and numbers, as well as early social skills and problem solving. They also help assess what each student needs in their development and ensure that parents are informed of their children’s progress.

3. Speech pathologist

  • Average annual salary: $79,060
  • Education requirements: master’s degree
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 29% (much faster than average)

Speech pathologists diagnose and treat communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults. They create individualized treatment plans to help clients strengthen their speech muscles and improve their vocabulary and sentence structure.

Language and swallowing disorders may be caused by a variety of physical, cognitive, or social problems. Speech pathologists may work with physicians, surgeons, or psychologists to aid a client’s individual needs. Some speech pathologists work at schools, providing counseling and helping support students’ classroom activities.

4. Occupational therapist

  • Average annual salary: $85,570
  • Education requirements: master’s degree
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 17% (much faster than average)

Occupational therapists help treat people with injuries, disabilities, or illnesses by helping them perform tasks necessary for everyday life. For example, therapists may create treatment plans, encourage completion of household chores, or recommend equipment like wheelchairs or hearing aids. They may also assess a patient’s workplace or home environments and recommend improvements to help make them more navigable.

For children, occupational therapists may suggest special equipment for home and school use, and work alongside family members to develop a healthy schedule.

5. Behavioral specialist

  • Average annual salary: $48,520
  • Education requirements: bachelor’s degree
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 23% (much faster than average)

Behavioral specialists help patients with behavioral disorder and other problematic behavior. They assess clients’ physical and mental health, develop treatment plans, and help them improve their ability to communicate with others.

Behavioral specialists will often work with parents to identify behaviors that are interfering with recovery and determine the best treatments. They may also find root causes of children’s behaviors and suggest changes in environment or parenting practices.

It’s never too late to start your journey.
Earn your Child Development B.A. today.


6. Special education teacher

  • Average annual salary: $61,820
  • Education requirements: bachelor’s degree plus state license/certification
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 8%

Special education teachers educate students with learning, mental, emotional, or physical disabilities. These teachers often work with students in smaller groups or one on one to ensure that each child gets the special care they need as they learn and grow.

Special education teachers will develop and adapt Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student to help track their performance and progress. They will also help students develop study strategies and academic milestones. Special technology (such as braille programs) may be implemented to communicate with students.

7. Child life specialist

  • Average annual salary: $60,380
  • Education requirements: bachelor’s degree

Child life specialists work at children’s hospitals to help children and families cope with their hospital experience. Hospitals can be frightening and overwhelming to children, so child life specialists help emotionally support and encourage young patients. They may also provide care to patients’ young family members (especially siblings) who also need emotional support.

Although support looks different for every child, child life specialists always encourage self-expression and play. They also try to minimize children’s anxiety and help them deal with their fears.

8. Children’s or youth ministry leader

Directors, Religious Activities, and Education (

  • Average annual salary: $52,880
  • Education requirements: bachelor’s degree (recommended)

Children’s or youth ministry leaders provide religious education, support, and counseling for students. These leaders can make a big impact on children’s lives by introducing them to Bible stories, teaching them ethical decision-making, conducting outreach, and leading them in prayer or worship services.

Children’s ministry may look different depending on a church’s size or organization — for example, some churches have elementary school leaders as well as middle and high school ministries. However, every role in ministry is important to enrich students’ lives and help them grow spiritually.

9. Parent educator

  • Average annual salary: $54,880*
  • Education requirements: master’s degree

Parent educators advise and instruct adults about their parenting, offering professional strategies to help them grow as parents. This includes aiding social and psychological dynamics between the parents and children, encouraging strong academic performance, and reviewing overall family well-being.

Parent educators also help families cope with challenges like misbehavior, truancy, or teenage pregnancy.

*Wage estimate from Bureau of Labor Statistics data on child, family, and school social workers.

10. Librarian

  • Average annual salary: $61,190
  • Education requirements: master’s degree
  • Projected job growth between 2020 and 2030: 9%

Librarians and library media specialists help people find information and research topics. They may also organize libraries, create databases, create library budgets, and research new books or other education materials.

In school settings, they’ll assist students and educators with coursework and help students learn to access information and technology. They may also host class sessions or events like story time, book clubs, or computer lab.

Should I start my child development education?

There are a variety of ways to make a career out of helping children. Professions like therapy, teaching, and social work are multi-faceted, growing industries that each impact children’s lives in different ways. Whichever career path you choose, you’ll be playing a crucial part in providing children with invaluable support and care.

Whether you’re currently working with children, looking for a career change, or are interested in expanding your opportunities, PLNU’s B.A. in Child Development program is a perfect way to expand your understanding of how children grow. There, you’ll learn how to give parents and children the tools to learn, adapt to challenges, and thrive in any situation they face.

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