A master’s degree in child development is not only a meaningful degree but a versatile one. But sometimes versatility is an unanticipated predicament: With all of the career options you could pursue with a child development master’s degree, where do you start?
The list of careers you can choose from with a master’s degree in child development is long. Administrator, educator, and case manager are only a few of the more common paths. Have you considered a career as a child life specialist?
Child life specialists are veritable experts in child development. Using a combination of play, self-expression, education, and other therapeutic activities, child life specialists help children cope with challenging and difficult life experiences, especially hospital or health-related incidents.
But it’s not just the kids they help – child life specialists also walk alongside parents, siblings, and other family members, offering emotional support and encouraging the development process. The issues they may confront on a daily basis include pain management, body image and eating disorders, chronic or long-term trauma or illness, death and dying, and more.
The issues are heavy, but the career is rewarding. “I knew within the first week that this was the job I was destined to do,” child life specialist Angela Franceschi told online magazine DreamOnline. “It’s a privilege to be part of a family’s life when they are going through a crisis, and it’s rewarding when you feel like you’ve helped or supported them,” she said.
Commonly employed by hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and child care facilities, child life specialists reportedly earn an average annual salary of $43,949. Though the minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in child life or a related field, the industry is competitive, and many professionals choose to pursue a master’s degree in child development.
The Child Life Council – a nonprofit organization which represents child life specialists and assistants, school teachers, and other professionals who are trained to help children and families with life challenges – features a directory of child development master’s programs and undergraduate programs from both traditional and online schools.
Further information about the child life profession, child life master’s programs, professional certification through The Child Life Council, and other information may be found at ChildLife.org .
 Child Life Council, “The Child Life Profession: What is a Child Life Specialist?” http://www.childlife.org/The%20Child%20Life%20Profession/ (Retrieved 14 Mar 2013).
 CFNG.org, “Child Life Specialist: Interviews,” https://www1.cfnc.org/Plan/For_A_Career/Career_Profile/Career_Profile.aspx?id=TW36QzeXAP2FPAXXkxXls3dbjoQDgXAP3DPAXXAP3DPAX&screen=9 (Retrieved 14 Mar 2013).
 DreamOnline, “Q&A with Child Life Specialist Angela Franceschi,” (2008).
 SD Health Careers, “Child Life Specialist,” (2010).
 Child Life Council, “Child Life Academic Programs,” http://www.childlife.org/StudentsInternsEducators/AcademicStudents/AcademicProgramDirectory.cfm#OnlineOnly (Retrieved 14 Mar 2013).