Child development specialists play an important role in children’s lives, including helping teachers and parents learn how to administer therapy and behavior modification techniques to improve youngsters’ skills. Launching a career as a child development specialist may begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology program.
Job Outlook for Child Development Specialists
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)* does not list specific employment growth and salary data for the role of child development specialist, the agency projects increasing job opportunities in category for child, family and school social workers. From 2016 to 2026, the employment of these professionals nationwide is expected to increase by 14%, which is must faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.
Child and family social workers will be needed to work with families to strengthen parenting skills and to work in schools with increasing enrollments.
Typical daily tasks for child development specialists may include:
- Evaluating and monitoring children to determine physical and mental development, including social, motor development, self-help, cognitive and language skills
- Documenting activities, tracking progress and formulating therapy plans, including exercises and activities for parents to administer
- Interacting with parents individually or in group settings
- Consulting with other professionals, organizations and providers, such as social service agencies
Child development specialists may work in a variety of settings, including daycare centers, preschool programs, pediatric hospitals, and public or private clinics.
Child Development Specialist Salary Potential
The average annual wage for child, family and school social workers was $48,430 as of May 2017, the BLS** reports. The top 10% of earners had salaries exceeding $75,940 a year.
Numerous factors can influence salary potential and employment opportunities, including a candidate’s educational qualifications and work experience, as well as regional market conditions. Prospective students are encouraged to independently research salary information.
Education and Training
According to the Occupational Information Network+, 69% of child, family and school social workers possessed a bachelor’s degree. The BLS** states that a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology or sociology are common for entry-level positions.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology with a Concentration in Child Advocacy can put individuals on the path to a career in the field of child development. Coursework typically includes an introduction to psychology, multicultural issues, lifespan development and psychology, learning and motivation, and critical issues in child advocacy.
Graduates of an applied psychology program should be able to:
- Understand theories and major concepts in applied psychology
- Recognize psychological principles and theories pertaining to children
- Understand the challenges facing children with developmental disabilities and their families
- Recognize socio-cultural diversity, including key concepts
Employers may offer opportunities for continuing education, making it possible to gain an entry-level job with a bachelor’s degree and then use tuition assistance or reimbursement to attain a master’s degree while continuing to work full time.
Is a Child Development Specialist Career For You?
If you enjoy helping children and families to overcome challenges, you may find a child development specialist career rewarding. These professionals should be able to handle diverse situations calmly and effectively, and balance professionalism with sensitivity when dealing with clients and families. They also need excellent interpersonal and communication skills. By honing these skills and earning a college degree, you may be better positioned for a career as a child development specialist.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (visited August 19, 2019).
**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 121-1021 Child, Family, and School Social Workers, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm (visited August 19, 2019).
+National Center for O**NET Development, O*NET OnLine, 21-102.00 – Child, Family, and School Social Workers, on the internet at https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1021.00 (visited August 19, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Degree and/or certificate program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.