Human & Family Development Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a human and family development career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if working in human and family development is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Human and Family Development

Human and family development is the study of how children, teenagers, and adult family members cognitively grow and interact with the social world. Studies in the field utilize psychology, sociology and public policy to investigate the impact of race, gender, class and family structure on individuals and family units. There are several careers you can work in that are related to human and family development. Here they are at a glance:

Marriage and Family Therapists Child, Family and School Social Workers Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Career Overview These therapists help clients with their relationships by focusing on family relations. Provide guidance for teachers, parents and guardians concerning the wellness of children and families. Counsel individuals or families that experience drug or behavioral problems.
Education Requirements Master's degree in family counseling Bachelor's degree in social work; master's degree for employment in schools Master's degree for licensed work
Program Length Two years Four years of undergraduate education, two years of graduate education Two years
Additional/Other Training Internship or supervised clinical work during graduate school Internship or supervised clinical work during graduate school High school graduates and bachelor's degree holders need to go through state training
Certification and Licensing State licensing through Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards State licensing through Association of Social Work Boards State licensing through National Board for Certified Counselors for private practice, state licensing through Addiction Technology Transfer Center for non-private practice
Experience Requirement Two years supervised clinical experience Two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience (varies by state state)
Job Outlook for 2012-22 Much faster than the average (31%) for all occupations* Faster than the average (15%) for all occupations* Much faster than the average (31%) for all occupations*
Median Salary (2014) About $48,040* About $42,120* About $39,270*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists focus on family-oriented views on individual development to treat patients. Therapists work with couples, families or individuals to see how their family structure and upbringing contributes to their behavioral, emotional or personal problems. Many marriage and family therapists work in private practices or government health facilities. Marriage and family therapists work a full schedule, however, they may need to have sessions at unorthodox times in order to accommodate families.

Requirements

All marriage and family therapists need a master's degree in counseling. Graduate programs in counseling include courses on emotional, behavioral and mental disorders, as well as strategies to help clients with these issues. Graduate programs include internships that offer the opportunity to do counseling work in a supervised setting.

Upon graduating from a counseling program, you need to attain a license to practice in your state. The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) is the national organization that represents each state's licensing board. Most states require marriage and family therapists to hold a master's degree and two years of supervised clinical experience before they can take the state licensing examination. As part of attaining a license, you must follow your state's continuing education requirements.

Based on December 2012 job ads, some employers looked for the following:

  • A California medical center is looking for a licensed marriage and family therapist. The therapist must meet with clients and create treatment programs for these clients, as well as refer the family or clients to necessary treatment or social service programs. The candidate must have two years of counseling experience and BLS and CPI certification.
  • A Minnesota healthcare service company is looking for a licensed marriage and family therapist to work with children and adults by providing psychosocial treatments. The candidate must demonstrate good management skills and be presentable in a professional environment.
  • A North Dakota health service facility for veterans needs a licensed marriage and family therapist to work with families and veterans on any psychological or social problems the families may be facing. The therapist must be knowledgeable of unique veteran medical and mental problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Standing Out

Advancement for many marriage and family therapists may come in the form of setting up a private practice. To do this, you need to establish yourself as a highly recommended therapist within medical and counseling circles. You will need to strengthen the attributes marriage and family therapists require for their job to establish yourself professionally. These may include developing excellent listening skills, a high level of compassion for your clients and interpersonal skills with clients and with medical and counseling professionals. In addition, therapists in a private practice need to have managerial and organizational.

Child, Family and School Social Workers

Child, family and school social workers are types of social workers who help parents create a healthy environment for childhood development. These social workers work with teachers or parents to address behavioral or emotional problems with a child or help a family solve socioeconomic hardship or abuse problems. Child, family and school social workers are employed at government social service organizations, hospitals, schools and state government offices. Many of these social workers work full time, but they may also work overtime to meet with parents, families or other professionals.

Requirements

Educational requirements depend on where you wish to be employed. Social workers can find employment with a bachelor's degree in social work or related subject, such as psychology or sociology. However, social workers that work in schools, school systems or healthcare facilities are typically required to hold a master's degree in social work. Graduate programs include internships or supervised clinical work.

After graduating from your academic program, you need to follow the licensing requirements in the state you wish to practice. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) coordinates and represents each state's licensing boards. Licensing in most states entails applying for licensing to your state's board and taking a multiple choice licensing examination. The BLS adds that if you are a clinical social worker who performs more diagnostic tasks on patients than direct service social workers, you typically need a master's degree and two years, or 3,000 hours, of supervised clinical work. Clinical social workers are required in all states to hold a license.

Based on December 2012 job ads, some employers looked for the following:

  • A Massachusetts hospital needs a child and family social worker for its care coordination team. The child and family social worker provides psychosocial assessments and treatment for families and children, as well as treatment or referral options. The candidate needs to be bilingual in English and Spanish.
  • An Ohio school system needs a school social worker to work around the school district. The candidate must have a master's in social work and be licensed, as well as experience in a school system.
  • A Louisiana hospital needs a school social worker that works with schools in the local community. The candidate needs to reach out to the community and coordinate with students, parents and school administrators on proper mental, medical and social service treatments the student or family can receive. The candidate needs at least two years experience as a social worker and a year experience working with adolescents and families.

Standing Out

The BLS states that although demand for child, family and school social workers will be high over the coming decade, many facilities that hire social workers, such as schools or government facilities, might be harmed by budget fluctuations from the government. Therefore, one strategy to stand out is to consider investing in a master's degree, even if it's not required in your state. The master's degree can help you stand out amongst potential candidates for jobs or allow you to pursue a career in clinical social work. With your master's and the necessary clinical experience, you can work for a private practice or for yourself.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with clients who may have mental and behavioral problems or addictions. Counselors work in private or group sessions and provide treatment, both medical and behavioral, that can help the client solve their problems. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work in outpatient and residential medical centers, rehabilitation facilities and prisons, probation and juvenile centers, employee-assistance programs and detox centers. Most positions are full-time, but some counselors who work at medical centers may have unorthodox hours, such as nights and weekends.

Requirements

The necessary education for counselors varies, but a higher education, such as a master's degree, can increase job opportunities. Private practice counselors need to be licensed, which typically requires earning a master's degree. In addition, you must complete 2,000 to 3,000 hours of clinically supervised experience. Once you have your master's degree and clinical experience, you may apply for licensing. The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) represents every state's unique licensing examination for private substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. Passing the exam allows you to practice substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling. However, if you do not want to work in a private practice, seeking licensing through the Addition Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTCN), which provides exams unique to each state, is required. States vary in educational requirements for non-private practice counselors, but each applicant must pass an ATTCN licensing test.

Based on December 2012 job ads, some employers looked for the following:

  • A Virginia health counseling center needs a behavioral health counselor to observe children to young adults. The behavioral health counselor needs to analyze the cognitive and behavioral development of patients as they age and report on any behavioral issues. The candidate needs a bachelor's degree in human services.
  • An Alabama primary care facility needs an addiction counselor. The addiction counselor needs to have extensive experience with drug counseling and prescribing medications like methadone. The candidate needs a bachelor's degree and licensing for social work.
  • A Pennsylvania child and family service organization needs a behavioral specialist. The organization is looking to fill one position for a specialist that can work in the office and another position for a specialist that can commute to residences for observations. Both positions require a master's degree in social work or psychological counseling.

Standing Out

Standing out from the competition is harder when you do not have a graduate degree. However, the BLS states that high school graduates can work in substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling. The BLS recommends that potential substance abuse counselors with lower education enroll in on-the-job training, which can provide experience in crisis counseling and interacting with patients and their families. The length of training varies, but it allows you to work in substance abuse and behavioral counseling without holding a master's degree.

Working in the criminal justice system may be advantageous, and many states hire substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors to help inmates or parolees with drug offenses. With that in mind, taking courses related to criminal justice can also help prospective counselors in their job search.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Human Services
      • BS - Human Services
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
      • M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
      • M.S. in Mental Health and Wellness with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Psychology - Gerontology
      • Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Therapy
      • Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy - Couple Therapy
      • Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy - General Family Therapy
      • Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy - Medical Family Therapy
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology
      • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Family Therapy
      • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy
      • Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy with Military Families
  • Online Programs Available
    4. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - Gerontology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Human Services - Human Services Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Addictions Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Biblical Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Christian Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Conflict & Mediation Ministry
      • M.A. in Human Services - Criminal Justice & Ministry
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice - Human Services
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • High School with Child Care Professional Pathway
    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Abilene Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
      • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Medical Family Therapy
      • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Child & Adolescent Therapy
      • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Therapy with Military Families
      • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Treatment of Trauma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster Career School

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Child Care Professional
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Sacred Heart University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Social Work - Clinical Specialization
      • Master of Social Work - Community Specialization

Featured Schools

Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Human Services

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
  • M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Family Dynamics
  • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Psychology - Gerontology
  • Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Therapy
  • Master of Science in Child and Adolescent Developmental Psychology
  • Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - Child and Adolescent Family Therapy

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - Gerontology

Are you a US citizen?

Regent University

  • M.A. in Human Services - Human Services Counseling
  • M.A. in Human Services - Addictions Counseling
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Interdisciplinary Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado Technical University

  • BS - Criminal Justice - Human Services

Are you a US citizen?

Penn Foster High School

  • High School with Child Care Professional Pathway
  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

What is your age?

Abilene Christian University

  • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Medical Family Therapy
  • Master of Marriage and Family Therapy - Child & Adolescent Therapy

What is your highest level of education completed?