You can’t get enough of babies and toddlers, but there are only so many babies and toddlers you can have in your own home. If you want to surround yourself with little ones, you would do better to commit to a career serving young children — and there are many options to choose from. Here are the four best options if you are interested in a career with a high earning potential that ensures you are doing good for young kids.
Pediatricians are physicians who specialize in providing medical care to infants, children and teens. A child’s body and mind change rapidly, which means pediatricians must develop specialized knowledge and skill to recognize, diagnose and treat health concerns. There are some pediatricians who specialize even further, treating only a certain age range — like premature babies — or certain maladies — like cancer.
Like other medical doctors, pediatricians must engage in intensive study and training before they can work in their chosen field. Most pediatricians spend at least nine years in higher education: four in undergraduate programs, four in medical school and three in residency. Further specialization can require between two and six additional years of training.
Pediatricians work in all medical environments, from private practices to clinics and hospitals. The national average salary for a standard pediatrician is about $114,000, though other pediatric specialists may earn different amounts.
Young children develop rapidly, gaining all sorts of new skills and abilities in a matter of months. Unfortunately, all that development can sometimes go awry, and behaviors can manifest that interfere with an individual’s ability to learn, socialize or otherwise exist productively in society. Behavioral specialists dedicate their careers to helping children (and sometimes adults) identify and overcome these behavioral challenges.
Behavioral specialists conduct assessments, develop treatment plans and monitor patients’ progress. Behavioral specialists must have at least a master’s degree in a field such as behavioral psychology or behavioral analysis, and if you are committed to working with young children, it might be wise to invest in an early childhood development bachelor’s degree. Then, you must obtain state licensure and receive certain certifications before working with clients of your own.
Behavioral specialists often work at practices alongside other types of pediatric providers, but some may work within schools or in hospitals. The national average salary for a behavioral specialist is roughly $142,000 per year.
Psychiatrists are mental health professionals tasked with understanding and treating psychological conditions through a variety of methods. Unfortunately, many children require assistance from mental health professionals, perhaps to understand and adapt to trauma or else to manage difficult emotions and behaviors. Unlike other mental health counselors, psychologists in particular, psychiatrists are physicians who complete medical school, and thus, they are equipped with the ability to prescribe medication in addition to other therapeutic strategies.
Like pediatricians, pediatric psychiatrists are medical doctors, which means they endure rigorous education. On top of the standard nine years of medical training, pediatric psychiatrists must devote an additional two years to specialty training. However, like a mixture between pediatricians and behavioral specialists, pediatric psychiatrists work in almost any setting where children may be, from hospitals to private practices to schools. The average annual salary for pediatric psychiatrists is about $250,000.
Pediatric dentists specialize in delivering dental services to children and teens. Children have unique dental needs compared to adults; the small size of their mouths and the frequent acquisition, loss and movement of teeth — not to mention their often sugar-filled diet — makes dental monitoring a priority. What’s more, children are often more nervous about dental appointments, so pediatric dentists must balance their specialized knowledge and skill with impeccable bedside manner.
Becoming a pediatric dentist is about as rigorous as becoming a pediatrician. In addition to undergraduate studies, you must complete a four-year dental program as well as two to three years of dental residency. Pediatric dentists almost always work within dental practices, though some may share their practices with other pediatric specialists.
It is no secret that dentistry is a high-earning career field. Pediatric dentists earn an average salary of about $185,000, though additional specialization — like pediatric orthodontia or pediatric dental surgery — can easily increase earning potential.
By no means are these the only careers you can find that put you in close contact with young kids, but they are some of the highest-paying jobs that allow you to work with little ones. Before choosing your career path, you should consider your strengths and interests, and then you can find a job that continues to fuel your passion for the rest of your life.