Work and Family Studies

Overview of Work and Family Studies

Work and family studies postsecondary programs are designed for students who want to study and work to help individuals and families overcome social, financial, physical and other life challenges and become more empowered.  Areas covered in the college and university programs are family connections, impact of work on the family, individual and family finances, child welfare, social and emotional development and adult development and aging.

Employment in Work and Family Studies

As of May 2008, 642,000 jobs were held by people in work and family studies.  Thirty-one percent of these works were employed by government agencies, while another 54 percent worked at healthcare and social assistance facilities.  Degrees, certificates and diplomas in work and family studies help to make it possible for you to counsel children, teens and adults who are experiencing social withdrawal, mental health and financial problems.  You can also work with schools to help them identify specific life events or situations that might be causing students to struggle academically and work with administrators to help design solutions to the problems.  Depending on your case load, the work can require a 9 to 5 schedule from you, or you can work extended overtime hours.  If you like helping others, have solid communication and interpersonal skills, you might enjoy a career in work and family studies.

Work and Family Studies College and University Degrees

Undergraduate degrees you can receive in work and family studies include the Diploma in Family Studies, Certificate in Working With Families, Associate degree in Human Development and Family Studies and the Bachelor degree of Science in Human Development and Family Studies.  Some college and university diploma and certificate programs are also offered at the graduate level.  Be prepared to already have an undergraduate degree before you enroll in these focused graduate programs that take between one to two years to complete.  If you want to get a graduate degree in work and family studies, you might consider studying and training for the Master degree of Science in Applied Health Science, Doctorate degree in Human Development and Family Studies or the Doctorate in Child and Family Studies.

Postsecondary Curriculum in Work and Family Studies

Generally, if you enroll in an online college or classroom college or university diploma or certificate program, you will only take core work and family studies courses.  However, if you go after an undergraduate or graduate degree, you will also take electives (e.g. music, physical education, theatre) before you graduate.  Core work and family studies courses include:

  • Family and consumer sciences
  • Human development
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Public policy
  • Economics
  • Social policy
  • Mental health
  • Families under stress
  • Parent and child relationships
  • Community intervention
  • Lifespan human development
  • Language development
  • Leisure and aging
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Behavioral pathology
  • Health care systems
Skills Related to Work and Family Studies

Taking a work and family studies program gives you the training to earn employment that pays you a good salary.  In addition to these benefits, completing these postsecondary programs also gives you:

  • Better understanding of yourself and your family members
  • Knowledge to work with government agencies to lobby for new employment laws and policies that protect people from discrimination, job loss and lowered wages
  • Skills to design retirement programs and policies that help older Americans
  • Understanding of the connection between education, work and family challenges
  • Abilities to work with people from diverse backgrounds and work histories
Job Opportunities in Work and Family Studies

Jobs you can get with a work and family studies college or university degree include social worker, counselor, researcher, life coach, community leader or public administrator.  You can also work with established national and local organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Family Child Care Association and drug and alcohol intervention and prevention agencies.  Overall, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for social workers to grow by 16 percent from 2008 through 2018.  Social workers who work primarily with schools and families are expected to see their job opportunities grow by 12 percent.

Support for Work and Family Studies Majors

Support is available to you and other work and family studies college and university majors through organizations like the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association for Family Child Care and the Families and Work Institute.  These organizations sponsor national conferences, networking opportunities, job search capabilities and continuing education platforms.

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