I’ve been thinking about what to do next in my life, and I’m concerned enough about children’s mental health and well-being in these stressful times that I want to find a way to work in child care or child development. I’ve even thought of applying to be a camp counselor at a summer camp to get a preview of what it is like to work with kids, but for now I am focused on the planning. Can you help me think through the options and come up with a potential career path or two? I have a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree, but I do not have a master’s degree or training as a social worker. I am, however, willing to do some job training if needed.
Hi there, Zoe,
It is wonderful that you want to embark upon such a rewarding career. People who choose careers working with children report great job satisfaction. Trying things out as as a camp counselor sounds like a great idea!
Out of many options, the first category we’d mention is in the realm of early childhood education. Depending on what you’d want to do and how much training you’d be willing to get, you could be a preschool teacher, elementary school teacher, special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, child psychologist or school counselor. Once you start working for a school district there are often programs offered for you to further your professional development, so there can be room to learn and grow.
Another idea to consider if you’d like to get right to it is working in a child care center (or to set one up in your own home). Child care workers have lower average salaries than educators, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part-time jobs in this field are common if full-time work is not what you’re aiming for.
Pediatricians and other medical providers work with children at important moments. Registered nurses are always in demand (pediatric nurses, in this case), both in the hospital setting and private practices. Family therapist is another interesting career if you have excellent communication skills and a heart to help families in difficult situations such as divorce, child abuse and other problems. Kids with physical problems and certain medical conditions also regularly see occupational therapists, which is another career you can train for. Occupational therapy is crucial to the treatment of quite a few pediatric conditions. So is physical therapy if that interests you.
One other arena where you can make an impact in child welfare is human services and juvenile justice. You mentioned you do not have the degree, but clinical social workers do a lot of work in this field as do foster care administrators, who do a lot of important decision making that affects kids in the foster care and legal system. You can volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate to learn the ropes a bit before you commit to a specific path.
We hope this helps, Zoe. Good luck. We know you’ll make an impact!
All the best,
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