Child & Family Development Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in child and family development? Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree in child and family development.
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Studying Child and Family Development: Degrees at a Glance

Individuals with an associate's or bachelor's degree in child and family development are eligible to work in a variety of settings providing services to children and families. Associate's degree programs commonly prepare students for entry-level positions in a preschool or childcare setting. Students with a bachelor's degree are prepared to pursue careers as education administrators or social workers.

Here's a side by side comparison of these degrees:

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level careers or wishing to further their education Individuals seeking mid-level careers or wishing to enter a master's degree program
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Preschool teachers, except special education ($30,000)*
-Childcare workers ($21,000)*
-Teacher assistants ($25,000)*
-Education administrators of preschool and childcare centers/programs ($51,000)*
- Child, family, and school social workers ($44,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements -Roughly 65 credits of coursework
-Internship
-Approximately 120 credits of coursework
-Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability None found at this time Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Associate in Child and Family Development

An associate's degree program in child and family development prepares students for a career as a preschool teacher. However, students should familiarize themselves with the requirements necessary to become a preschool teacher in the state where they reside. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for preschool teachers is expected to increase by 25% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). This faster-than-average growth is attributed to the increase of children ages 3 to 5 in society.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree leads to a growing career; the need for preschool teachers is expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate, according to the BLS
  • Credits earned in an associate's degree program may transfer to a bachelor's degree program
  • Most associate's degree programs have no prerequisites, and students can usually enter with a high school diploma or the equivalent

Cons

  • Individuals with an associate's degree typically earn less than those who have completed a bachelor's degree ($30,000 vs. $51,000)*
  • Associate's degree holders are usually limited to entry-level positions, and may need to further their education if they want to obtain a mid- or upper-level position in child and family development
  • Students with an associate's degree generally cannot obtain a teaching position in an elementary, middle or high school classroom; these jobs usually require a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Common Courses and Requirements

Most associate's degree programs require students to complete coursework in parenting, child development and assessment. Most programs require students to complete a lab or internship experience in which they gain first-hand experience working with children and families. Additional courses you might take in this program include:

  • Child growth and development
  • Creative arts for early childhood
  • Administration of programs for children
  • Parenting in contemporary society
  • Working with young children with special needs

Online Degree Options

Online associate's degree child and family development programs are rare. However, certain classes needed to fulfill general coursework requirements for these programs may be available online. Attending an on-campus program allows you to complete internships and other courses in which you interact directly with children which you may not be able to complete over the Internet.

Stand Out with this Degree

Students pursuing an associate's degree should take advantage of part-time employment or volunteer opportunities in preschools, churches and daycare centers. These opportunities offer students a flexible way to gain hands-on experience. This experience may hep you stand out against your competition when searching for a job.

Obtaining or keeping basic first aid and infant, child and adult CPR certification can also help you stand out against your competition. Most childcare centers and preschools require prospective employees to provide documentation of this training before hiring them. Having this certification prior to applying for a job may result in your being employed before an applicant lacking certification.

Bachelor's in Child and Family Development

Individuals with a bachelor's degree in child and family development are eligible to pursue a career as a childcare center administrator or social worker. Some bachelor's degree programs require completion of an internship. Sometimes, this internship prepares students to sit for the Certified Family Life Educator exam offered by the National Council on Family Relations. Certification can help validate an individual's credentials and assure employers they are capable of providing superior family life education.

The BLS estimates the need for preschool and child care center administrators to increase 25% between 2010 and 2020. This faster-than-average growth is anticipated to be due to the increased demand for child care and educational services.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Individuals with a bachelor's degree typically earn more than those who have completed an associate's degree ($51,000 vs. $30,000)*
  • Students who have completed a bachelor's degree program are prepared to enter graduate programs in counseling, social work or marriage and family therapy
  • Bachelor's degree programs in child and family development are offered in a variety of distance-learning formats

Cons

  • Online programs may not allow for completion of the same internships, which may reduce the amount of hands-on experience gained in a program
  • The degree does not prepare students to become marriage and family counselors; that career requires a master's degree
  • A position as a child, family or school social worker may require working evening and weekend hours

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Courses and Requirements

Students in a child and family development bachelor's degree program study child development, family relationships and parenting. Most programs require completion of an internship. Common courses in a bachelor's degree program include:

  • Family systems & life span development
  • Introduction to social research
  • Childhood educational development
  • Infant and toddler programs
  • Children and stress

Online Degree Options

Online programs leading to a bachelor's degree in child and family development are widely available. Program requirements may be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format, in which some classes are taken online and others on campus. Students can expect to cover the same material in an online or hybrid program as they would in the classroom.

Stand Out with this Degree

You can set yourself apart from the crowd by taking advantage of any summer employment, part-time work, or volunteer opportunities available to you during your studies. Having extensive experience working with young children and families can help you stand out when applying for a job.

Additionally, becoming Certified Family Life Educator can show future employers your dedication and commitment to your career. If you graduate from an accredited program, you can become certified by filing an application. If you do not graduate from an accredited program, you must pass an exam to become certified.

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  • Syracuse, NY

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  • Tuscaloosa, AL

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Indiana Wesleyan University

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Grand Canyon University

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