Online Bachelor's Degree in Child Development

Child development explores the journey to adulthood and the accompanying social, emotional, cognitive, and physiological changes. Online child development degrees introduce students to these concepts, with consideration of cultural and biological factors that impact development.

Top bachelor's degrees in child development educate learners on children's needs and ways to encourage growth in multiple child-centered careers, particularly in preschools and childcare facilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects increases for these professions between 2016 and 2026. For instance, preschool and childcare center director positions should increase by 11%. The BLS also projects 10% growth for preschool teachers. Candidates can also work for summer camps and child-based programs or assist teachers in K-12 classrooms.

Students who earn an accredited bachelor's in child development online can also pursue higher degrees and certifications for other careers that relate to child development. Speech-language pathologists, for example, help children who struggle with speaking. These positions should increase by 18% from 2016 to 2026. However, candidates for these roles often must hold a master's and obtain a license or registration. Additional education and certification can also lead to careers as school counselors, postsecondary teachers, and principals. The BLS projects 13%, 15%, and 8% growth, respectively, for these positions between 2016 and 2026. 

This article explores some of these careers, including professional obligations and pay rates. The sections below also address common program elements, courses, and online learning in general.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Child Development Program?

The requirements for earning a child development bachelor's degree online vary from program to program. However, candidates should expect to examine child development and teaching concepts along with ethical concerns, cultural diversity, and research methods for the field. Many programs also require field components where students work with young children at approved locations.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Child Development

Curricula differ among schools, particularly when departments offer concentrations. For instance, distance learners pursuing a child and family development degree online may explore familial impact on education more than those earning a standard bachelor's in child development online. In general, though, these programs address elements of child development, educational techniques, and ethical matters in early childhood. Possible courses include those listed below.

Language Development

These courses examine the process of learning to speak. Departments may end this exploration at different ages, such as six or seven, and link this information to social and emotional development. Classes may also explore second-language acquisition for children. This degree prepares students for speech-language pathologist positions, though they'll need further credentials for these careers.

Play and Learning

Students explore theories and research dealing with the influence of play on education. In particular, coursework may connect play to social, cognitive, and physical development and require degree seekers to structure educational activities for children. Classes prepare students for careers as preschool and childcare center directors, elementary teachers, preschool teachers, and childcare workers.

Children's Literature

Candidates study popular children's authors and stories. Courses may relate these works to specific areas of development, such as emotional and cognitive progression. These courses relate to preschool and elementary teaching positions. Students also build skills to succeed as reading specialists but may need additional credentials for these positions.

Family Systems

Learners pursuing a child development and family studies degree online may take this course to examine the impact of family structure on learning. Candidates also explore methods for engaging family members in education for careers as teachers. Other related careers include principals, counselors, and child social workers, though these careers require additional credentials.

Introduction to Early Childhood Education

These courses provide students with basic information about early childhood education, including history and theories. Often, early childhood courses focus on children who are eight or younger and prepare learners to advocate for improved education or teach preschool/elementary school children.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor's in Child Development?

An online child development degree can require 120-128 credits, which students typically complete in four years. However, some schools may require more credits, and their programs can take longer to complete.

Students can quicken graduation time by completing more than 30-33 credits per year, though some universities charge course overload fees. Some institutions also offer more semesters than fall, summer, and spring, which provides additional opportunities to complete courses to shorten the time to graduation.

Learners who cannot manage full-time credit loads can study part time. However, lessening per-term credits may delay graduation. This choice may also increase program costs, since tuition can increase each year.

Cohort programs require students to earn their child development degrees online in a group, which prevents individual learning paces. For this reason, learners who need to graduate quickly or take part-time course loads should avoid cohort options.

Is Online Learning Right for Me?

Online learning requires students to view lectures, review notes, and complete assignments without the in-person guidance of a faculty member. This format means distance learners should be independent and committed to their education. Online students should also excel at time management to meet assignment deadlines.

Many distance learners hold full-time jobs in addition to family and community responsibilities. Degree seekers should boast a strong work ethic and good organizational skills to fulfill all their responsibilities in a timely manner.

Candidates should also excel at technology, since students must use online tools like Blackboard to upload presentations, submit assignments, and review course materials.

Distance learners may need to communicate through discussion board posts, peer feedback, and group projects. These interactions occur online, which eliminates communication components like tone and expression. Strong communication skills can help students deliver clear messages online.

Child Development Certification

Candidates should expect to examine child development and teaching concepts along with ethical concerns, cultural diversity, and research methods for the field.

Child development careers may require certification. For instance, preschool teachers and childcare directors may need the child development associate (CDA) credential in areas like preschool, infant/toddler, and family childcare. These certifications call for a portfolio, field experience, and the CDA assessment. Employers in all states accept CDA credentials.

Preschool and childcare center directors should also explore daycare certifications for centers and home-based organizations. Licensing requirements vary based on structure and state. For instance, small, home-based childcare facilities may not require a license. Certification may include safety inspections, first aid and CPR training, and immunizations.

Child development degrees also hone skills helpful for positions such as elementary teachers, child social workers, school counselors, and speech-language pathologists. However, these careers call for further education and credentials. For instance, speech-language pathologists often need a master's and a license.

Groups such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children offer professional development opportunities for child development professionals through webinars, training, and meetings. These opportunities may fulfill continuing education requirements for certifications.

Child Development Careers

Earning a child development degree online may equip students with information on language, psychological, sociological, cognitive, and physiological development for careers as early childhood educators and childcare employees. Candidates can explore entry-level positions, such as assistants, or higher-level positions with sufficient work experience. A bachelor's in child development also builds skills for principals, child social workers, and counselors, but these careers require advanced education and licensure.

Overall, child development careers require patience, creativity, and the ability to convey ideas in an understandable and kind manner. Learners should also boast strong communication skills for presenting class lectures and discussing children's needs with faculty and families.

Preschool Teacher

Description Preschool educators prepare children for kindergarten by teaching basic concepts such as shape, color, and number recognition. Candidates also plan daily itineraries that help children develop social skills, coordination, and speaking abilities. Additional responsibilities include record keeping and observing children for evidence of special needs. Many Head Start programs require a bachelor's for these positions.
Median Annual Salary $29,780
Projected Job Growth Rate 10%

Preschool and Childcare Center Director

Description Preschool and childcare center directors oversee employees and train new workers. These professionals tend to budgets and make policy decisions for the organization. Candidates discuss student accomplishments with parents and confirm that the organization's processes reflect state standards. This position typically requires a bachelor's.
Median Annual Salary $47,940
Projected Job Growth Rate 11%

Recreation Worker

Description Recreation workers oversee activities for fitness or entertainment. These individuals may ensure safety by setting regulations and performing first aid. Candidates can work with different groups, such as the elderly at nursing homes or children at camps. Choosing a child development program prepares students specifically to work with young children in these environments. Certain organizations require a bachelor's for these positions.
Median Annual Salary $25,060
Projected Job Growth Rate 9%

Childcare Worker

Description Childcare workers change diapers, provide meals, and look for evidence of special needs. These workers may care for K-12 children after school or during school breaks. Responsibilities include selecting activities for children, monitoring play time, and maintaining records. Organizations do not always require a degree for these positions. However, Head Start programs tend to hire individuals who are pursuing or hold a postsecondary credential.
Median Annual Salary $23,240
Projected Job Growth Rate 7%

Teacher Assistant

Description Teacher assistants help students comprehend class lectures and follow school regulations. Additional tasks involve preparing classrooms for presentations and overseeing children on field trips. An associate degree qualifies candidates for these careers. However, an accredited online child development degree indicates an advanced understanding of children for better employment prospects.
Median Annual Salary $26,970
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%
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