Careers in Human Development and Family Science

Whether you have started taking classes in human development and family science or you are just thinking about what you want your major to be, understanding the many kinds of jobs available to students with a HDFS degree will help your planning. Listed below are a series of market segments (community services, education, medical), as well as the types of potential employers looking for students with degrees in human development and family science. Additionally, you will find strategies you can get started on today that will help you market your skills. A degree in human development and family science can prepare you to work in the fields of Communications, Pre-Shool/Early Childhood Education, Community Services, Social Services, Healthcare Services, Government, Education and Business.

Students interested in human development and family science find it helpful to supplement their courses with hands-on experiences. Opportunities can span many topical areas, including alcoholism, drug abuse or family violence or varied populations including the aging, children at risk, or children and adults with special needs. Some suggestions to consider might include:

  • Obtaining part-time, summer, internship, or volunteer experience in childcare, schools, hospitals, camps, or overseas programs.
  • Obtaining certification in CPR, safety and first aid for adults, children, and infants.
  • Obtaining certification information for specialized areas, such as child life specialist or child advocacy.

Graduate students can pursue careers in higher education, health and human service administration, or areas in which they will work directly with children and families. They work in private and public organizations such as Head Start, National Center for Educational Statistics, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Explore Market Segments


Areas: Journalism, advertising, public relations, writing/editing, research, media relations

Prospective employers: Newspapers and magazines, particularly those geared to children/family, book publishers, trade associations, radio and TV stations, nonprofit organizations, advertising agencies, manufacturers of related goods.

Strategies for students:

  • Minor or double major in journalism, PR, advertising or other communications-based major.
  • Develop excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Submit articles/books for publication.
  • Work for campus publications.

Pre-School/Early Childhood Education

Areas: Teaching, administration

Prospective employers: Religious organizations, private/public/franchise/corporate childcare centers, private homes, family childcare, extended school programs, nursery schools.

Strategies for students:

  • Acquire certification/licensing for public school teaching and childcare.
  • Obtain experience working with children through volunteer positions or part-time jobs.

Community Services

Areas: Administration, development, programming

Possible employers: Community centers, YMCA, YWCA, consumer protection agencies, summer camp programs, adult and childcare providers, programs servicing children and adults with special needs, hospitals, rehabilitation organizations, retirement homes, religious organizations, adoption agencies, environmental design firms.

Strategies for students:

  • Seek related work experience (particularly summer camps or special needs areas).
  • Learn to work well with diverse populations through volunteer or paid positions.

Social Services

Areas: Case management, counseling, administration, development, therapeutic programming, creative arts, graduate school

Prospective employers: Profit/non-profit organizations geared to services for children, youth, families, or senior citizens, adult and childcare providers, group homes, half-way houses, youth services agencies, senior citizens’ programs, federal, state and local government, foundations and funding organizations.

Strategies for students:

  • Take counseling/social work courses as a minor or a double major.
  • Obtain master’s degree for most administrative positions.
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application processes.
  • Take play therapy, music therapy, and/or art therapy courses as part of a graduate degree program.

Healthcare Services

Areas: Pediatrics, family practice, physician assistant, child life specialist, medical social worker, speech/occupational/ physical rehabilitation therapy, recreational therapy

Prospective employers: Healthcare centers, including local and regional hospitals, community care clinics, home health services, population specific rehabilitation service centers, hospices.

Strategies for students:

  • Seek volunteer experiences in healthcare settings that serve children and families.
  • Join student healthcare professions interest groups.
  • Be familiar with the degree and certification requirements for the career that you are interested in.
  • May need master’s degree in counseling, social work, or specialized area.
  • Volunteer in a healthcare setting.
  • Utilize Syracuse University’s Health Professions Advising (HPA) through the College of Arts and Sciences.


Areas: Human/social services, rehabilitation, legislation, advocacy

Prospective employers: Federal, state, and local government agencies, Cooperative Extension, vocational rehabilitation, mental health agencies, adoption agencies, military childcare programs, overseas childcare and education programs, criminal justice system, health and wellness agencies, women’s protective agencies.

Strategies for students:

  • Learn federal, state, and local job application procedures.
  • Take additional courses in your area of interest.
  • Connect with the Rebecca Lee Pre-Health Society at Syracuse University.


Areas: Teaching, research, counseling, administration, vocational rehabilitation, curriculum development, early childhood special education, speech pathology

Possible employers: Public and private schools, K-12, public and private preschool programs, adult education programs, colleges and universities, programs servicing children and adults with special needs, government.

Strategies for students:

  • Acquire certification/licensing for public school teaching K-12.
  • Obtain Ph.D. for college and university teaching and research.
  • Obtain graduate degree for counseling and administrative positions.
  • Learn federal and state government job application process.
  • Double major in special education.
  • Minor in coaching.


Areas: Management, sales, marketing research, consulting, credit departments, staff benefits

Prospective employers: Corporate care and services for children and adults, childcare facilities, department and retail stores, manufacturing companies of children’s clothes, toys, furniture, and food, banks and financial institutions, insurance companies.

Strategies for students:

  • Develop business skills in finance, accounting, marketing/sales, taxes, and bookkeeping.
  • Secure leadership positions on campus.
  • Get related experience through internships or part-time jobs.
  • Build computer skills in word processing, database and spreadsheet programs.