If you have younger siblings, nieces and nephews, or a long babysitting resume, you may have realized that you like being around kids. How would you like working with kids as a career? Whether you’re interested in teaching, providing health services, or helping families, there are many rewarding careers you could pursue. There’s never a dull moment when teaching or watching kids – and coloring, playing games, or singing might be part of your job description! But keep in mind, you will need plenty of patience, stamina, creativity, good judgment, resourcefulness, excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Here is a list of kid-focused careers for people who like children.
Teacher – This is the traditional job associated with working with children. So if you’re really committed to making a difference in kids’ lives, then give some serious thought to going into education. Everyone can probably recall at least one special teacher who made a difference in his or her life. As a preschool teacher, you can watch young kids develop and gain confidence while you provide helpful guidance and fun learning projects. To teach children older than preschool age, you not only need a college degree, but a license from the state.
Teaching Assistant – Teaching assistants in the classroom focus more on providing students with individualized attention, and helping students understand class material and assignments. Teaching assistants most often work with ESL children or those who have special needs and/or learning disabilities. Educational requirements for teaching assistants vary by state, from a high school diploma to a college certificate or associate’s degree.
Tutor – Working outside the mainstream education system, either online or in person, tutors can help students with test preparation and a wide variety of homework problems. They may work with one child to help improve his or her skills in a specific subject, or on a small group basis for remedial purposes. A bachelor’s degree in the subject to be taught is an advantage for any person seeking this job position.
Coach – Most middle school and high school coaches are also teachers at the same school. That means you would at least need a college degree, preferably in education or physical education, to be paid to coach youth sports. But volunteering with organizations such as the YMCA or Pop Warner are also possibilities for people who want to help support the development of leadership and sportsmanship skills in kids.
Youth Counselor – There are literally dozens of places for counselors to work: suicide prevention hotlines, hospitals, schools, youth centers, youth shelters, camps – the list goes on and on. Education requirements for becoming a counselor depend, in part, on the type of facility that employs you. Most camps will hire any responsible young person with solid recommendations and some work experience with kids (babysitting, life-guarding or tutoring, for example). But many employers require a bachelor’s degree in human services or a related field.
Social Worker – A social worker is a perfect job for people who are dedicated to helping others and want to improve their well being. While social workers can potentially assist people of all different ages and needs, there are child, family, and school social workers as well. A social worker may help with child welfare, child protective services, assisting single parents, or facilitating the best well being of a child in an educational setting. Social workers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Child Advocate – Also called Court Appointed Special Advocates, these volunteers are paired up with orphaned, abused and neglected children by a judge. They advocate for that child by helping arrange adoptions and find foster homes. They can also make an appearance in schools to assist with poor behavior and truant children. The job is similar to a social worker, so an education in juvenile corrections, social work, youth services, or a behavioral sciences field of study (Psychology, Sociology, etc.) is recommended. However, you do not have to be a lawyer or a social worker to be a National CASA volunteer. You might even become a child rights activist with UNICEF.
Juvenile Justice Attorney – Juvenile justice attorneys are attorneys who specialize in working with young offenders, usually those under the age of 18. Juvenile justice attorneys are devoted to navigate these children through the court system and help them find suitable rehabilitation. Education and salary is similar to that of an attorney.
Child Psychologist – Child psychologists can be found in a number of professional environments, such as schools, hospitals, research settings, and private practices. The work of a school psychologist specifically involves assessing and diagnosing learning problems, offering counseling to children, designing behavioral interventions, and fostering supportive learning environments. A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required.
Pediatrician – Pediatricians are not only responsible for the treatment of children’s illnesses, injuries and diseases, but for the prevention of common and uncommon childhood medical conditions. Pediatricians, like all medical doctors, need to complete four years of medical school, plus three years in an approved pediatric residency program. You might also consider being a Pediatric Nurse, Pediatric Dentist, or Pediatric Dental Hygienist.
Respiratory Therapy Technician – By helping kids with respiratory illnesses or pulmonary disease to breathe easier, you could give them a better shot at having a healthy life. Respiratory therapists work most often in intensive care and operating rooms, but are also found in outpatient clinics and home-health environments. Think of the good you can do by working alongside doctors and nurses as you recommend important, often life-saving, treatments. Respiratory Therapists need at least an Associate of Science in Respiratory Care, and must complete a credentialing process.
Occupational Therapist – Some kids have physical, cognitive, or physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to live normal day-to-day lives. Occupational therapists can work specifically with children, and some work within schools to help children perform various tasks necessary in school and to teach them life skills. A bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy is the minimum education.
Speech-Language Pathologist – Speech-language pathologists are experts in speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, and fluency disorders. While speech-language pathologists can work with all age groups, many focus solely on working with children. Some speech-language pathologists work in schools. Speech-language pathologists are required to have a master’s degree in all states.
Children’s Librarian – A children’s librarian can be a great job for people who enjoy helping others and have an outgoing personality. Most public libraries have children’s areas, with a special librarian dedicated to this area of the library. Many people associate these librarians with storytime. Children’s librarians are also employed by schools. They usually have master’s degrees.
Childcare Worker – A childcare worker is someone who cares for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They care for children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. Childcare workers care for children in childcare centers, their own home, or the homes of the children in their care. Education and training requirements vary by setting, state, and employer. They range from no formal education to certification in early childhood education.
Make-A-Wish Coordinator – You know the group that lets terminally ill children do something they’ve always wanted, for free? Imagine yourself working behind-the-scenes to help send a child with leukemia to Disneyland, or to help them meet their favorite movie or sports star. Make-a-Wish hires people with varying talents. They also offer internships which allow you to gain real-world experience alongside experienced professionals. Go to www.wish.org for more inspiration.
Webmaster/Reporter for a Kid or Teen Website – Oversee the creation of a website for kids, tweens and teens, and work with a bunch of other motivated people who really care about helping youth make a difference for their own generation. You might work behind the scenes in tech support, or you might become a youth reporter/correspondent and cover a wide range of stories and topics – everything from teen entrepreneurship to computer hacking. Be an advocate for kid or teen-related issues and help your peers while doing so. [Homeschooling Teen magazine is always looking for writers, graphic designers, social media / marketing interns, and other volunteers – contact us!]
Additional opportunities for working with children include: Youth Pastor, Private Nanny, Child Portrait Photographer, Museum Guide, Park & Recreation Worker, Theme Park Ride Operator, Disneyland Cast Member, Children’s Party Entertainer, Ice Cream Truck Driver, Big Brothers / Big Sisters Mentor, 4-H Club Leader, Scout Leader, etc.