Working with children offers you the opportunity to help kids advance their lives. The list of careers working with children and careers working with babies runs the gamut from highly skilled medical jobs to retail sales positions. Some child-focused careers offer comfortable middle-class salaries, and many face impressive opportunity growth in the coming years.
Medical Careers That Involve Children
Often, parents think of pediatricians almost like members of the family. In many cases, pediatricians provide health care for children from birth until they are teenagers. Pediatricians mend children’s broken bones, treat asthma, administer vaccinations, treat chickenpox and take countless calls from in the middle of the night from distraught parents who are worried about their children’s health.
To become a pediatrician, you must earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a medical degree and then complete a residency program. The process typically takes at least nine years to complete. After completing your residency, you must obtain a license from the state in which you plan to practice medicine.
In 2017, pediatricians earned a median income of around $188,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median income represents the earnings of workers at the center of an occupation’s pay scale. Jobs for pediatricians should increase by around 13 percent by 2026.
Child psychologists help children overcome social, cognitive and emotional difficulties through talk therapy, counseling and behavioral exercises. Some child psychologists work in schools or for school districts, focusing their efforts on children’s developmental and educational disorders to help them achieve success in class and society.
Many psychologists in private practice hold doctoral degrees in psychology. Some schools and school districts hire child psychologists who have earned a master’s degree. Clinical child psychologists work directly with children in therapy sessions and must obtain a license from the state in which they practice.
Clinical and school psychologists earned a median income of around $75,000 in 2017. Top earners took home nearly $125,000. The BLS expects psychologist positions to increase by around 14 percent through 2026.
Nutritionists work with groups, individuals and the public to promote healthy eating habits. Some nutritionists work in health clinics and hospitals, while others practice in nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations, schools or school districts. Pediatric nutritionists play a pivotal role in combating health issues that plague children, including obesity, food allergies and diabetes. When working with individual children, nutritionists devise eating plans to improve health or aid in the recovery of illness or injury.
Most employers seek nutritionists who have earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. Some states require nutritionists to obtain a license or certification before entering practice. Coursework for school nutritionists may include classes in food storage and management.
In 2017, nutritionists earned a median salary of nearly $60,000. Top earners took home more than $83,000. Increasing awareness of the way nutrition affects health has led to an increased need for nutritionists. The BLS expects job opportunities for nutritionists to increase by 15 percent from now until 2026.
Speech-language pathologists help children adapt to or overcome swallowing disorders and communication and language problems. They design individualized treatment programs for children with speech disorders caused by conditions such as autism, hearing impairment, cleft palates, brain injuries and Down syndrome. More than 40 percent of speech-language pathologists work for educational institutions.
Most speech-language pathologists have a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. After obtaining your education, most states require you to obtain a speech-language pathology license before starting your practice.
Speech-language pathologists took home a median income of more than $75,000 in 2017, according to the BLS. High earners made nearly $120,000. Job prospects for speech-language pathologists look bright with an estimated growth rate of around 18 percent through 2026.
Education Careers That Involve Children
Elementary School Teacher
Elementary school teachers leave a lasting impression on the educational and social development of their students. They instruct students in basic topics, including reading, writing and mathematics, along with subjects such as history and science. Elementary school teachers facilitate physical education programs and help students learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Some elementary school teachers also serve as coaches for school sports programs such as baseball, soccer, football, tennis and basketball.
Most private and all public schools require elementary school teachers to have a bachelor’s degree in education. In all states, public school teachers must hold a license or teaching certification, and in some states, teachers must have an educational background in the primary subject they teach.
In 2017, elementary school teachers earned a median salary of more than $57,000. Teachers at the top of the pay scale took home nearly $93,000. Elementary school teachers should see a 7 percent increase in job opportunities by 2026. Typically, schools in rural and inner-city areas have the greatest demand for new teachers.
School counselors serve the dual role of helping children excel socially and academically. High school counselors assist students in mapping out a course of study that helps them reach their higher education or employment goals after graduation. Elementary school counselors help students develop problem-solving skills that they will need in middle and high school. School counselors also assess the needs of students facing personal problems such as divorcing parents or neighborhood crime, offering emotional support and making referrals to professionals such as psychologists or social workers.
Typically, employers seek school counselors who hold at least a master’s degree in counseling. Counselors working in public schools also must obtain a state license or certification.
A BLS survey indicated that elementary and secondary school counselors earned a median income of around $63,000 in 2017. Some high earners took home nearly $93,000. Increased enrollment has led to a greater demand for school counselors. Through 2026, opportunities for school counselors should increase by around 13 percent.
Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers wear many hats in their work with children who have mental, physical and learning disabilities. They teach foundational courses such as math, reading and writing, and help students advance in social skills. Since each child has unique needs and challenges, special education teachers must work closely with parents, school administrators, school counselors and other teachers to ensure their students can grow academically and socially.
Most private schools and all public schools require special education teachers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Public school special education teachers must obtain a certification or license before entering their profession.
In 2017, special education teachers earned a median salary of nearly $60,000. Those in the top income bracket made more than $95,000. The BLS expects the demand for special education teachers to increase by around 8 percent through 2026.
Other Careers That Involve Children
Social workers work with children and their parents to help them overcome life problems such as poverty, drug addiction, domestic abuse and chronic illness. They help clients enroll in social service programs such as food assistance, low-income housing and Medicaid. Social workers assess their clients’ educational and employment histories and help them enroll in high school equivalency courses and job-training programs. At times, social workers help children, women or families extricate themselves from dangers such as neglect, abuse or crime.
Employers seek social workers who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. Clinical social workers, who provide therapy for clients, must obtain a license from the state in which they practice. Some states require licensing or certification of all social workers.
A BLS survey established that social workers earned a median income of around $48,000 in 2017. Social workers at the top of the salary scale made nearly $80,000. The demand for social workers is expected to increase by around 16 percent by 2026.
Private nannies provide basic care for children, helping them eat, bathe and dress. In many cases, nannies live or work in the homes of the children they care for, overseeing the children’s care while their parents are away from home. Nannies organize and facilitate play sessions and help children with homework. Nannies who care for babies and small children must carry out duties such as diaper changes and toilet training. They must have the ability to recognize symptoms of illness and care for children when they suffer conditions such as colds and viruses.
Educational requirements for nannies vary by state and employer. Some states require child care workers to have at least a high school diploma. Some employers prefer a nanny with formal childhood education or child care training, while others place a higher emphasis on past child care experience.
According to PayScale.com, private nannies earn an average wage of around $14.50 per hour. The BLS projects the demand for child care workers to increase by around 7 percent through 2026.
Child Portrait Photographer
Child portrait photographers capture images of children. Some work in studios, while others work with portable studio equipment or in natural settings. Child portrait photographers often take annual class and individual student photos for schools. Some photographers shoot children’s special events, such as birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, and graduations.
Some photographers have formal training in photography, while others do not. Portrait studios that employ multiple photographers typically prefer job candidates who have a strong portfolio of previous work.
According to PayScale.com, portrait photographers make an average of $22.50 per hour. Many independent photographers charge fees such as hourly or day rates, plus additional fees for prints, digital images and photo albums.
The popularity of digital photography and the introduction of inexpensive camera equipment in the marketplace led to a decline in the need for professional portrait photographers. The BLS projects job opportunities for portrait photographers to decrease by around 6 percent through 2026.
Toy Store Sales Clerk
As a toy store sales clerk, you can play with the latest toys and earn a living at the same time. Store clerks help customers find age-appropriate toys for kids who have a variety of interests. Clerks must stay abreast of toy trends and provide appropriate substitute products when popular items are out of stock. They stock product showrooms, keep track of inventory, compile sales reports, and manage cash and credit card payments.
Most retail stores seek sales clerks who have at least a high school education. Typically, stores provide training for new store clerks. Stores in popular shopping districts in large cities often look for sales clerks with experience.
Sales clerks made around $14 per hour in 2017. Some high earners took home more than $25 per hour. As more and more people shop for goods online, the need for store sales clerks is decreasing. Through 2026, the BLS projects a slight increase of just 2 percent in sales clerk positions.