20 Rewarding Careers Working with Kids

For people who love kids and want to serve in a position that has the potential to make lasting differences in young lives, child-oriented careers could be a perfect option. Professionals who work with children tend to enjoy their jobs, which is no surprise considering kids are an exciting, interesting, and awe-inspiring demographic.

Make no mistake, careers dealing with children can be incredibly challenging at times. Little humans at different stages of development each come with their own set of needs. It’s a demanding line of work, but also a rewarding one. The skills that it takes to be successful in working with kids can seamlessly transfer to other types of jobs further down the road too. People who work with children hone their communication skills, organizational skills, and conflict-management skills, among the more specialized skills that particular roles call for.

People who dedicate their careers to working with kids do more than just their jobs, whether they realize it or not. For children who suffer adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, a positive relationship with an adult in other parts of their lives, like a teacher or counselor, can counteract some of the negative effects of their trauma and significantly contribute to a healthier life for the child. A professional who works with children has the power to ease a child’s stress, add positive experiences to the child’s life, and provide a haven where the child feels protected and in turn develops resilience.

A List of Careers Working with Children

Careers working with kids are certainly not limited to teachers, although the teaching field is in high demand. Also contrary to common belief, professionals in behavior therapy, or applied behavior analysis, do much more than only working with autistic children. A wide range of conditions can be helped by ABA therapy, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and impairments that have resulted from traumatic brain injuries. Teachers can also apply ABA techniques in the classroom to promote healthier behaviors, have more control, and reduce stress. These are just a couple of the many careers that involve working with children.

So, you might be asking, what jobs can I have working with kids? If you enjoy interacting with kids and want to have a career working with them every day, you may want to consider jobs in the following sectors:

  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Social work
  • Psychology

This list of careers working with children can give you an idea of the wide variety of roles that people who want to work with kids can fill. It goes beyond the classroom and can reach children with learning and physical disabilities, social issues, medical problems, mental health disorders, or simply a thirst for knowledge and connection and a need for a supportive adult. The following are great careers working with children.

  • ABA therapist
  • Teacher
  • School counselor
  • School principal
  • Preschool or childcare center director
  • Children’s librarian
  • Social worker
  • Speech-language pathologist
  • Pediatric physical therapist
  • Pediatric nutritionist
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Pediatrician
  • Pediatric dental hygienist
  • Pediatric dentist
  • Child psychologist or therapist
  • Marriage and family therapist
  • Juvenile justice lawyer
  • Portrait photographer
  • Nanny
  • Coach

ABA Therapy is Definitely One of the Most Popular Child Oriented Careers

An ABA career is perfect for working with children in a capacity that can create positive change in the child’s life. An ABA therapist develops and delivers treatment plans to help improve a child’s behavior and communication skills. With the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder rising dramatically over the past few decades, ABA therapists have been busy, but ASD isn’t the only condition that ABA can benefit. Children with behavior issues resulting from anxiety-related disorders, developmental disabilities, injuries, and more can be helped by a qualified ABA therapist. ABA therapists have completed master’s degree programs in behavior analysis, psychology, or education, done a practicum, and passed the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam. Additional exams may be required depending on the state.

You Can’t Have a List of Careers About Working with Children Without Mentioning Teachers

Young teacher standing in front of chalkboardEveryone has experienced the difference that a good teacher can make in a child’s life. Teachers aren’t just responsible for educating children on academic subjects, but also for supporting them emotionally and helping them overcome personal obstacles. At the elementary level, teachers usually teach multiple subjects with a particular emphasis on math and language. A teacher needs to be skilled at finding ways to help children of all types learn, with each individual student having different learning styles and behavior patterns. If you’re interest is in a specific subject, being a middle or high school teacher could be right for you. Successful teachers are patient, passionate, and creative with good organizational and communication skills. To be a teacher, you need at least a bachelor’s degree, often in education, and to complete certification or licensing requirements specific to your state. Many teachers also earn master’s degrees in education or in the subject that they teach.

School Counseling is a Career that Always Involves Working with Children

Young students often need emotional and academic support at school. A school counselor designs counseling programs that improve student outcomes and meets with children for individual counseling sessions. School counselors are needed at every level of a child’s education and can address issues like stress, relationships, future planning, and even personal processes like grieving. A school counselor needs a master’s degree in counseling in an approved program for school counseling, which varies by state, and also must be credentialed to practice.

Principals Spend Much of Their Day Working with Children

A principal oversees the entire school and ensures that it runs smoothly, concerned with both long-term and short-term outcomes. Principals manage class schedules, develop curriculum, order supplies, and discipline students when necessary. A principal typically has a master’s degree in education or a related field and requires a school administration license.

Careers Working with Children in Preschool or Childcare Centers

With the number of children under five expected to increase quickly over the next few years, preschool and childcare directors are in demand. Directors at these centers supervise daily activities, hire and onboard staff members, manage the organization’s funds, and develop and implement the educational and care programs. Preschool and childcare center directors need bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education and may need a license, depending on the state.

Librarians are Great at Working with Children to Help Appreciate Literature

A children’s librarian does so much more than work with books. Most public and private libraries offer programs for children in the community, like story times, crafts, and fairs, and the children’s librarian facilitates these activities. Many children begin their love of reading with the encouragement of a children’s librarian. Children’s or youth librarians need a master of library science (MLS) degree or a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in library media.

Social Work is a Career that Very Often Involves Working with Children

Many children need extra support to ensure that they are properly cared for. Social workers connect families in the community with the resources that they need to have a better quality of life. These could include food services, job placement agencies, or tutoring programs. While some social workers help families better provide for themselves, others work for child protection agencies that are responsible for removing children from dangerous homes and placing them with approved families. Social work degrees are available at every level, from associate to doctorate. To be a licensed social worker, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. For clinical social work, a master’s degree in social work is necessary.

Speech-Language Pathology Always Makes the List of Great Child Oriented Careers

A speech-language pathologist, or SLP, works with the full range of communication and swallowing disorders, some muscular and some cognitive. They prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat problems with speech, language, social communication, cognitive communication, voice, feeding, and more, as well as provide training to caregivers and families. A pediatric SLP may see patients with various diseases and disorders and work in education or clinical settings. SLPs must have a master’s degree (MA, MS, or MEd) in communicative disorders or speech-language pathology from an institution accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). SLPs are also required to complete 400 clinical hours and pass the National Speech-Language Pathology board exam and receive a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). Additional certifications are available for SLPs to specialize further.

Careers Working with Children in Pediatric Physical Therapy

A pediatric physical therapist treats patients under 18 years old. They see kids who have genetic, brain, spine, and nerve disorders as well as bone and muscle issues and sports-related injuries. Pediatric PTs help children improve their strength, flexibility, movement patterns, and range of motion. To be a pediatric physical therapist, you need a doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT) from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy and to pass a state licensure examination.

Careers Working with Children in Pediatric Nutrition

Children with poor nutrition can be helped by pediatric nutritionists. Pediatric nutritionists work with families and children to provide guidance on properly regulated diets. Pediatric nutritionists educate patients on how food affects their health, what foods are best to eat, and when is the healthiest time to eat. A pediatric nutritionist may also diagnose and treat eating disorders and nutrition-related illnesses. To become a pediatric nutritionist, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics in programs that follow guidelines set by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics and may also need certification and licensure, which varies by state.

Pediatric Nurses Work with Children to Promote Health and Wellness

Pediatric nurse listening to heart of young girlPediatric nurses specialize in caring for patients from infancy through adolescence. They’re knowledgeable on growth and development and the ways that diseases and conditions present in young patients. A pediatric nurse will perform diagnostic tests, record medical data, and make the children feel safe and supported in the clinical environment. Pediatric nurses need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, to be licensed as a registered nurse, and to pass the Certified Pediatric Nurse exam.

Careers Working with Children in Pediatric Medicine

A pediatrician manages the physical, behavioral, and mental health of children from birth to 18 years old. These medical doctors are trained to treat a wide range of childhood illnesses and provide preventative and routine care in addition to handling serious diseases. After completing an undergraduate degree, becoming a pediatrician requires an MD program at a medical school, licensure, and the completion of a residency program.

Pediatric Dental Hygienists Work with Children to Help Promote Dental Health

A pediatric dental hygienist is skilled at helping children feel comfortable at the dentist’s office, especially with many who fear dental work. In addition to cleaning teeth, pediatric dental hygienists educate kids on good oral hygiene habits. The minimum education for a dental hygienist in any state is an associate degree, but many earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Dental hygienists must also be licensed in their state.

Careers Working with Children in Pediatric Dentistry

Dentists who specialize in child patients oversee oral health from about 6 months through the teenage years, providing preventative care, performing exams, diagnosing and managing conditions, repairing cavities, and caring for dental injuries. As opposed to dentists who mainly work with adult patients, pediatric dentists are focused on conditions common in children and oral development as kids’ teeth are replaced with permanent teeth, as well as set up a lifelong positive association with dental care. Pediatric dentists are able to prevent oral decay and disease that could otherwise affect the child for life. After earning an undergraduate degree, a pediatric dentist needs to get a dental school education, earning either a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) or doctor of dental medicine (DDM) degree. To be licensed, they must pass the National Board Dental Examination. A pediatric dentist will also complete a 2-year residency program after graduating.

Child Psychologist Careers Working with Kids

A child psychologist or therapist specializes in assessing, diagnosing, and treating behavioral, social, or emotional issues in young patients. A child psychologist may work in private practice and collaborate with academic and healthcare professionals. They are required to have master’s degree in child development or clinical psychology but may have doctorate degrees in psychology and must obtain professional certification and state licensure.

Careers Working with Children in Child Psychiatry

Similar to child psychologists, child psychiatrists treat mental health issues in children, but a psychiatric is a medical doctor who is able to prescribe medication. In addition to a medical degree, a child psychiatrist must complete a residency and receive a psychiatry certification.

Marriage and Family Therapy Very Often Involves Working with Children

Marriage and family therapists help families and children cope with and work through mental health and relationship issues. They talk with children and provide them with various strategies to overcome problems. A marriage and family therapist needs a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field and a license to practice.

Careers Working with Children in Juvenile Justice

Young people who enter the criminal justice system need skilled lawyers to ensure that they are treated fairly and have the legal resources that would benefit them. A juvenile justice lawyer specializes in the unique challenges that children in the system face. A lawyer needs to go to law school after an undergraduate program and receive a juris doctor (JD) or bachelor of laws (LLB), and then must pass a state bar examination.

Portrait Photographers Very Often Work Largely with Children

Most people who seek out the services of a photographer, apart from weddings and engagements, do so because they want to have priceless photos of their families as their children grow. Anyone who has tried to get a baby to sit still or a teenager to smile for a picture knows that this job takes the talent of someone who has the social skills to work with kids and make the experience a happy one. Many photographers are freelance running their own businesses while others work in portrait studios. You don’t need a degree to become a photographer, although there are many certificates and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in photography that can lend a legitimacy to your business. If you have the equipment and the knowledge of photographic techniques, lighting, lenses, and editing, you can get started. When it comes down to it, the proof is in the pudding. If you have a portfolio filled with creative and beautiful pictures of laughing and smiling families, it will be clear that you have what it takes for parents to trust you with capturing their family memories.

Nannies, of Course, Always Work with Children

Being a nanny lets you work long-term with families that you often create deep personal bonds with. Caring for children as a private nanny can be a uniquely rewarding experience. Becoming a nanny doesn’t necessarily require a college education, but some in the field find it beneficial to earn degrees in subjects like early child development or child education. Getting CPR and first aid certified is also hugely beneficial to the job. Some nannies find work through personal connections and others join agencies. There are numerous websites available to create nanny profiles and find work on the platforms.

Child Oriented Careers in Coaching

Coaches who work with kids in sports programs have a large part in a child’s personal development. Coaches encourage children to improve and make sure that they have fun doing a mentally and physically healthy activity. A coach needs to work well with children, be communicative and motivational, have a knowledge of the sport, and may also have a bachelor’s degree in subjects such as sports science, nutrition and fitness, physical education, or physiology.

Good Degrees that Will Prepare You for a Career Working with Children

Several degrees are especially well-suited to working with children. Among others, degrees working with children include:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s in early childhood development
  • Bachelor’s or master’s in education
  • Bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in psychology
  • Master’s in counseling
  • Master’s in social work
  • Master of library science
  • Master’s in communicative disorders/speech-language pathology
  • Bachelor’s or master’s in nursing
  • Bachelor’s in physical education
  • Law degree
  • Medical degree for pediatrics or psychiatry

What Jobs Pay Well That Work with Children?

It comes as no surprise that the jobs in healthcare and law are the highest paying when it comes to working with children. A pediatric nurse makes an average of $75,000 per year, a dental hygienist $77,000, a speech-language pathologist $80,000, and a pediatric physical therapist $91,000. Pediatricians, child psychiatrists, and pediatric dentists make between $164,000 and $217,000, on average, while a juvenile justice lawyer can make about $127,000. That being the case, careers in counseling, therapy, and teaching can bring in a good income at about $50,000-$60,000 per year, with school principals making an average of $98,000.

Any one of these careers working with children is well worth the time and effort it takes to get there. Some pay better than others, but all are exceptionally rewarding.