What you can 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.
Why are there so many options, and would I be qualified for all of them?
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 they then have more 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. In order 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 will value communication and critical thinking skills, but an employer hiring a sales manager will likely be more impressed 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 across the Lifespan, 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), and who has a record of volunteer experience at a homeless shelter, and/or who honed skills working with people as a Resident Assistant on campus.
The following list represents a few of the kinds of career titles for Human Development majors:
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 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, School Psychologist, 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 undergraduate Psychology classes).
The following list represents 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.
Career Services conducts a survey each year of our most recent graduates and asks them what they are doing for their first job or graduate school. You can view the results of these surveys for the past several years. Visit their website, select "Results by Major," and look for Human Development. Remember, these are graduates' first or entry-level jobs within weeks or months of graduation.
Want to know more about the nature of the work, working conditions, earnings, training, and job outlook? Then check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook or the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. You can also learn more about the numerous career options we have highlighted in the department's on-line newsletter in the past few years by visiting The Pink Flamingo archives.
- Social Work and Social Services Jobs Online
- Online Psychology Career Center
- Int’l Association of Marriage and Family Counselors
- National Association for Child Development
- National Association for Education Of Young Children
- Guide to Careers in Child & Family Policy
- Opportunities in Non-Profit Organizations