Human Development Studies: Education and Career Options

Sep 16, 2019

Degrees in human development studies typically cover topics such as human development and growth. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for human development graduates.

An education in human development studies can open up professions in counseling, therapy and social services. A career in one of these human development fields often requires a master's degree but a bachelor's degree is acceptable in certain professions.

Essential Information

Human development studies programs are often grouped together with the field of family studies. A human development studies degree program covers topics such as human development, therapy, and counseling, and prepares graduates for careers with community, social service and educational institutions.

Career School Counselor Marriage and Family Therapist Certified Family Life Educator
Education Requirements Master's Degree Master's Degree Bachelor's Degree
Other Requirements Licensure requirements vary by state License; Two years of clinical experience Certification by the National Counsel on Family Relations
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%* 22%* 7% for child, family, and school social workers*
Median Salary (2018) $56,310 annually* $50,090 annually* $46,270 for child, family, and school social workers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

A degree in human development studies opens up career paths for graduates who want to work with families and children. Some common careers for grads include school counselors, marriage and family therapists and certified family life educators.

School Counselor

School counselors are needed at all educational levels. Their primary responsibility is to assess students and help them work towards academic and career goals. They may also be called to aid students who are despondent and need one-on-one counseling to help with social or academic problems. The minimum educational requirement for a school counselor is a master's degree in the field. A license is required, but each state has its own rules regarding the licensure process. School counseling students should check with their academic department for specific details.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2018, school counselors earn a median annual wage of $56,310. The BLS also reports that a 8% increase in job opportunities was anticipated for school counselors from 2018 to 2028.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists are responsible for helping families and couples deal with issues that may be causing a strain on relationships between family members. In extreme cases, a marriage and family therapist may refer a couple or family to a psychologist.

A license is required for a practicing marriage and family therapist. Currently, the licensure process begins after graduation from an accredited marriage and family therapy counseling program. Prospective therapists must have at least two years of clinical experience supervised by a licensed counselor.

As reported by the BLS, marriage and family therapists should see a 22% increase in job opportunities from 2018-2028. The BLS also reports a median annual salary of $50,090 for marriage and family therapists as of May 2018.

Certified Family Life Educator

A certified family life educator provides counseling services to families. A family life educator works closely with families that are suffering from issues such as substance abuse, debt, child abuse and domestic violence. These issues are often addressed within the context of economics, parenting, education and sexuality.

Family life educators are typically employed by community-based organizations and family resources services. Certification for family life educators is handled by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). Eligibility requires that certification candidates have a degree in human development or a closely related area. An exam that tests ten content areas in family life education must be passed in order to earn the Certified Family Life Educator credential.

The BLS does not report specifically on Family Life Educators, but notes that the median annual salary for all child, family and school social workers is $46,270 as of May 2018. For those counselors working in the individual and family services industry specifically, the BLS reports an average salary of $42,970. Additionally, child, family and school social workers can expect a 11% increase in job opportunities between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS.

Human Development Studies Education

Human development studies degrees are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. A bachelor's degree prepares graduates for entry-level positions with community services organizations while advanced degrees in the field prepare grads for administrative, counseling, teaching and research jobs.

Bachelor of Science

Students who want to help families and children can consider a Bachelor of Science in Human Development Studies program. Many bachelor's degree programs in the field allow students to choose from several areas of concentration. Some of the common emphasis areas include family and community settings, family finance and child development.

The curriculum during the last two years of enrollment is shaped by a student's interest in the field. However, core human development courses cover topics such as lifespan development, children's literature, adult development, counseling and adolescent development. Some bachelor's degree programs may include a field experience or internship component.

Master of Science

A master's degree program in human development studies can be completed in two years and introduces students to conducting empirical-based research in the field. Graduates of a Master of Science in Human Development Studies program often pursue careers in research, policy analysis, education and community outreach. Master's degree students complete classes in research methods and statistics.

Other core courses cover family theory and human development. A majority of the program is dedicated to completing a thesis. Students usually propose research ideas to their advisors during their first year of study.

Doctor of Philosophy

A Doctor of Philosophy in Human Development Studies generally prepares graduates for careers in research and teaching; however, some students use their degree to work in community outreach positions. Students who are admitted into a doctoral degree program in human development studies generally hold a master's degree in the area.

A Ph.D. program in human development studies requires that students choose a concentration area. However, before a concentration area is chosen, core coursework in human development theory, family theory statistics and research methodology must be completed. More than half of the time spent in residence is dedicated towards completion of a dissertation.

Human development is a field that offers several career options projected to see average to above average growth over the next decade. Be sure to carefully review education requirements, career descriptions and salary statistics before deciding if the jobs available in this field are the right career choice for you.

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