Jobs Working with Terminally-Ill Children

Jan 18, 2020

There are a number of professions that involve working with children who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. This article looks at several career options that involve caring for terminally ill children and their medical, emotional and personal needs.

Career Options for Working with Terminally-Ill Children

Terminally ill children are children who are diagnosed with an illness that cannot be successfully treated. They may receive medical care to manage their illness. They may also need emotional support, or they may need someone to help their families care for their daily needs. The specific needs of each terminally ill child will vary, based on whether they remain in a hospital or live at home. They may also choose to be involved in decisions concerning what will happen after they have passed away. Below is a list of careers where one can work with these children.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Physicians and Surgeons $208,000 7%
Healthcare Social Workers $56,200 17%
Registered Nurses $71,730 12%
Home Health Aides $24,200 37%
Health Educators and Community Health Workers $46,080 11%
Clergy $48,990 4%-6%
Funeral Service Workers $57,580 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Working with Terminally-Ill Children

Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons must earn a medical degree and complete an internship and residency in their field of specialty. They use their medical knowledge to identify medical problems with patients and treat their conditions. Physicians and surgeons may be involved in diagnosing terminally ill children and performing medical procedures to treat their symptoms or manage their pain.

Healthcare Social Workers

Healthcare social workers need to have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work. Their objective is to help people with medical issues. They may provide emotional support to the families of a patient or work with the patient and their family to help them accept or understand a diagnosis. Healthcare social workers may work both with children who are terminally ill and their families to help them understand their situation and what to expect as the illness progresses.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses provide medical care to patients. They may also help perform medical tests. Nurses may work as part of a team of medical professionals providing care to terminally ill children; they may also work in hospice care, where they work with people of all ages who are preparing to die. A license is required to be a registered nurse, and those interested in this career must complete a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program in nursing.

Home Health Aides

Home health aides work with patients in their homes. They do not necessarily need more than a high school diploma to work in this field, although some employers may require that they be certified. They provide basic personal care for their patients, and may do other things such as drive a patient to an appointment. If a parent has decided for their terminally ill child to return home, they may have a home health aide help them care for their child's daily needs.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators must have a bachelor's degree; community health workers usually have a high school diploma and must complete on-the-job training. These healthcare professionals are involved in helping the people in their communities manage or improve their health. They may work with terminally ill children and their families to ensure that they have access to the medical services they need, and they may work with the child's family to help them learn how to care for the child. They also may work to help the child get resources they need to improve their quality of life and ability to interact in their community.


Clergy members use their understanding of their religion to help counsel those in need or teach them about principles of faith. Clergy members who work with terminally ill children may help them accept and understand their condition, or they may provide emotional and spiritual support to the child and their family members. They may enter the field with a bachelor's degree, although most clergy members have a master's degree.

Funeral Service Workers

Funeral service workers usually need to be licensed, and must have an associate's degree. This employment category includes those who prepare the body for burial and those who manage funeral homes. Funeral directors are the funeral service workers most likely to work with a terminally ill child. If a child opts to be involved in planning their memorial service, they may meet with the funeral director to discuss what types of things they'd like to have read or done during the service.

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