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Human Development

What can you do with this major?

Career possibilities with a Human Development major are wide-ranging. There are many options in human service, business, and educational settings, and, in fact there is no set list of occupational alternatives, so use the options below as idea lists, and remember that they only represent some of the careers you might consider.

Maximizing your marketability: It begins today

Human development is a liberal arts major, just as Communication, Democracy and Justice Studies, English, Humanistic Studies, Physics, Political Science, and Psychology are. Liberal arts majors equip you with broad sets of skills, such as written and oral communication, research, and critical thinking, that can be applied in a diverse range of careers. In contrast, majors in professional studies (e.g., Accounting, Education, Nursing) are providing professional preparation for a specific job or set of jobs – i.e., Education majors are training to become teachers. The great thing about a liberal arts degree is that it does provide many options, including for careers that might not even exist yet.

What students must consider, however, is that with a liberal arts major they have responsibility for making decisions about what types of careers or graduate programs they will want to pursue (e.g., human services vs. business-related; Masters in Counseling vs. Law School) as early as possible. Then, they can plan their education accordingly with the help of their advisor and Career Services. To be competitive for specific jobs they will likely need not only their degree, but also course selection and relevant experience that will lead employers to view them as qualified. For example, both human services employers and businesses should value communication, leadership, cultural competence, and critical thinking skills, and appreciate experiences that build or demonstrate them (e.g., serving as a course TA, involvement in student government, travel course).  An employer hiring a sales manager will likely be more impressed, however, by a candidate who completed courses for the human development major such as Creative and Critical Thinking and Theories of Personality, who also has a business administration minor, whose part-time job through college has been in retail, and who developed leadership skills as an officer in PHD Club. On the other hand, a domestic violence shelter seeking a new advocate would probably prefer a human development major who completed classes such as Family Development and Counseling and Psychotherapy, who also has a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, whose part-time job was with a human services organization (e.g., autism agency, Boys and Girls Club), who has a record of volunteer experience at a homeless shelter, and/or who honed skills working with people as a campus Resident Assistant or Student Ambassador.  Students who begin early with seeking relevant educational and applied experiences will probably have an advantage in creating a competitive profile for the job market or graduate school.

Career opportunities

The following list is a sample of some different career titles Human Development majors might pursue:

With a Bachelor's Degree
Adult Day Care Service Provider, Before/After School Program Staff, Autism Agency Staff Member, College Admissions Representative, Crisis Center Staff, Customer Service Representative, Domestic Violence Shelter Advocate, Early Childhood/Preschool Teacher, Employment Interviewer/Recruiter, Human Resources Professional, Human Service Agency Case Manager, Independent Living Assistant, Patient Services Representative, Research Assistant, Sales Professional, Youth Advocate.
With a Master's or Professional Degree*
Adoption Agency Official, Children's Librarian, Early Childhood Center/Director, Higher Education Administrator (e.g., for Admissions, Student Life, Housing), Marriage and Family Therapist, Gerontological Counselor, Guidance Counselor, Human Resources Manager, Lawyer, Occupational or Recreational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Substance Abuse Counselor...
With a Doctoral Degree*

College/University Administrator, College/University Professor, Consultant, Psychologist (e.g., Clinical or Counseling, Developmental, Health)...

*Note: Although Human Development provides excellent preparation for graduate study, no academic program can cover everything. Some Master's and doctoral programs have pre-requisites that would necessitate pairing human development with a minor or a second major in another field (e.g., Occupational Therapy programs typically require specific courses in the natural sciences, such as those in Human Biology; Counseling/Mental Health programs may require Psychology).

These are a few of the types of businesses or organizations that might employ Human Development majors:

AIDS Resource Centers, Nursing Homes, Before and After School Programs, Mental Health Centers, Colleges and Universities, Crisis Intervention Centers, Child Care Centers and Preschools, Customer Service Centers, Family Violence Centers, Human Services Agencies, Insurance Companies, Juvenile Detention Centers, Group Homes, Health Centers, Hospitals, Private Businesses, Community Support Programs, Volunteer Centers, Youth Programs, Non-Governmental/Non-Profit Organizations.

Learning more about specific jobs and finding more options

  • See lists of the actual first jobs and/or graduate school programs of our majors from Career Services annual survey.  Make sure to look at the "Results by Major" documents, and remember these are graduates' first or entry-level jobs within weeks or months of graduation.
  • Check out our Alumni Career Profiles page for interviews with graduates in different careers.
  • Find details about working conditions, earnings, training, and job outlook for different careers in the Occupational Outlook Handbook or the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
  • Visit The Pink Flamingo archives to view additional options from the Careers of the Month series in our online department newsletter.