Career Paths and Opportunities in Youth Development

Get Program Details
. What Human Development track do you hope to pursue?
What Human Development track do you hope to pursue?

Working with children and adolescents can be immensely rewarding, presenting new opportunities to learn and grow every day. Because every youth is different, no two workdays will be the same when you pursue a career in youth development. Whether you go on to support youths in treatment centers and shelters as a community health worker or provide after-school care and activities as a recreational coordinator, you’ll have the chance to make a difference in the lives of countless young people.

Two youth workers are walking down a city street with three teenagers and a boy in a wheelchair

A Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies offers students the chance to dig deep into family dynamics, psychology, relationships, and policy as they relate to the human experience. The comprehensive knowledge and skills that students can gain from this program prepare them for a variety of career paths in youth development.

Industries Hiring Graduates with Youth Development Knowledge

Those interested in pursuing a career in youth development can choose from many opportunities. As family and household structures continue to evolve, and social ills such as addiction and poverty persist, qualified human development professionals are in high demand in a number of areas. Graduates with youth development knowledge and experience can launch a career in the following industries:

  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Youth organizations
  • After-school care
  • Government agencies
  • Treatment centers and shelters

Popular Youth Development Career Paths

Professionals with experience in youth development play a critical role in promoting positive growth in children and adolescents. Individuals have a variety of career path options in the youth development field. While some of these positions may require further education, training, or certification, completing a youth development track as part of a human development and family studies degree program is an excellent starting point for students embarking on their professional careers.

Child and Youth Worker

A child and youth worker is a social worker who supports young people experiencing challenges or hardships at home, at school, or in their personal lives. They provide counseling and guidance on a wide variety of issues, including substance abuse, bullying, and family dynamics. Also known as caseworkers or youth advocates, child and youth workers may offer support to children and adolescents going through the adoption process or those in foster care. In cases of neglect, abuse, or other situations requiring legal intervention, child and youth workers may consult with lawyers or provide testimony in court.

Child and youth workers may find employment with community organizations, government agencies, youth correctional centers, and nonprofit organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers earned a median annual salary of $50,470 in 2019. The BLS projects the employment of child, family, and school social workers specifically to grow 12% from 2019 to 2029.

If you’re interested in becoming a child and youth worker, you would benefit from having excellent people skills, including:

  • Communication and listening
  • Empathy and sensitivity
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Conflict resolution
  • Professionalism

Community Health Worker

Community health workers seek to promote wellness among a target demographic or their clients by educating community members, collecting data, facilitating access to healthcare, and conducting outreach. Those on a career path in youth development may be interested in working as a community health worker to assist adolescents in overcoming barriers they may face accessing healthcare, education, or mental health services. They often work as part of government agencies and organizations or in individual and family services. Community health workers may also find employment in hospitals or outpatient care centers.

In 2019, community health workers earned a median annual salary of $40,360. The BLS projects the demand for these professionals to grow 15% between 2019 and 2029.

A job as a community health worker requires a diverse skill set to handle the variety of work in the field. Here are some of the qualities recommended for success in this career:

  • Communication
  • Instructional skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical skills

Social and Community Service Manager

Whether working in a small agency or a large organization, social and community service managers play an important role in helping their employers deliver services to clients. They are responsible for supervising their staff as they provide support and care for clients, who may belong to a particular demographic such as youths. They oversee the development and implementation of programs and services and are responsible for evaluating their effectiveness. Depending on the size of the organization, social and community service managers may be responsible for grant writing or fundraising, engaging with the community, or reporting to stakeholders such as elected officials.

Social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of $67,150 in 2019, according to the BLS, which projects the demand for these workers to grow 17% from 2019 to 2029.

If you’re interested in a career in this fast-growing area of youth development, these are some of the skills recommended for success:

  • Time management
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication and public speaking

Recreation Worker

Those looking to combine a love of recreation and play with a youth development career path may be interested in becoming a recreation worker. Recreation workers are responsible for organizing and leading group activities that may include sports and fitness, arts, music, and games. They may work at local recreation or community centers, in nursing homes or residential care centers, or at seasonal or outdoor camps.

The BLS projects the employment of recreation workers will increase 10 % from 2019 to 2029. In 2019, recreation workers earned a median annual salary of $26,350.

Being a recreation worker requires a unique combination of people skills and physical competencies. Here are some of the skills recommended to succeed in this role:

  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Physical fitness
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving

Youth Outreach Worker

Common employers of youth outreach workers include community centers, nonprofits, and other social services organizations focused on supporting youths who may be in crisis. They assist adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse, homelessness, or mental health challenges. Typically, youth outreach workers are fieldworkers in direct contact with their clients, acting as intermediaries between adolescents and the various social or government services they need, such as housing, employment, and healthcare.

According to the BLS, social and human service assistants such as youth outreach workers earned a median annual salary of $35,060 in 2019. The BLS expects the sector to grow 17% from 2019 to 2029.

Youth outreach workers play a critical role in supporting young people. Success in the field entails the following skills, among others:

  • Compassion and sensitivity
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Time management
  • Adaptability

Your Path Toward a Career in Youth Development Starts at Maryville

If you want to make a difference in the lives of young people, consider a degree program that can help you start shaping the next generation. With Maryville’s online Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies, students can develop the necessary knowledge and skills for a youth development career path by combining online coursework and real-world projects and exercises. To set you and your future clients up for success, pursue a youth development track that focuses on promoting and supporting positive development in children and adolescents.

Recommended Reading

Nature vs. Nurture Child Development

Early Childhood Education vs. Child Development

Mental Health Counseling vs. Social Work

Sources

Houston Chronicle, “What Does a Youth Counselor Do?

Houston Chronicle, “Youth Outreach Worker Job Description”

Neuvoo, “What Does a Child and Youth Worker Do?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Health Educators and Community Health Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Recreation Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Human Service Assistants

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers