Degrees and Careers Working with Babies

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Careers that involve working with babies span multiple industries, including childcare, education, healthcare, and social services. Child development specialists, neonatal dieticians, pediatricians, and child and family social workers all work with babies on a daily basis. Other professionals who work with babies include childcare workers, neonatal nurses, developmental psychologists, and childcare center directors.

This guide introduces several careers that involve working with babies and young children. It also includes information on common degrees, career and salary outlooks, and scholarship opportunities for students seeking careers working with babies.

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  • Q. What degree do you need to work with babies?

    Careers in childcare often require at least an associate degree, as do many nursing careers. Other roles, such as pediatrician, require a graduate degree.

  • Q. What types of nurses take care of babies?

    Several types of nurses care for babies, including neonatal nurses and pediatric nurses. Nurse practitioners may also specialize in infant care.

  • Q. What jobs can I get with a degree in child development?

    A child development degree prepares graduates for careers as childcare workers, preschool directors, and child development specialists. The degree also leads to opportunities in social services.

Why Get a Degree Working with Babies?

Pursuing a degree that leads to careers working with babies offers several personal and professional benefits. The following list outlines several of these benefits.

Variety of Career Paths
Careers working with babies span many industries, including healthcare, education, social services, and psychology.
Fulfilling Work
Caregivers, nurses, and social workers all work with babies in different ways. For many professionals, working with babies represents a fulfilling and rewarding career path.
High-Demand Careers
Many careers that involve working with babies report strong projected job growth. For example, the BLS projects jobs for social workers to grow much faster than average between 2019-2029.
Undergraduate and Graduate Options
Some careers that involve working with babies require an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, while others require a doctorate.
Many specializations lead to careers working with babies. Nurses, doctors, educators, social workers, and psychologists can all choose a baby-focused specialization within their field.

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Specializations for Working with Babies

Careers in healthcare and education offer many opportunities to care for newborns, infants, and toddlers. For example, both neonatal nurses and childcare workers spend their days caring for babies.

Some careers working with babies require an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, while other career paths require a graduate degree. For example, pediatricians and child psychologists need a doctorate.

This section introduces common specializations, also known as concentrations or tracks, for careers that involve working with babies. Many other specializations, including social work and dietetics, also lead to child-focused careers.

  • Neonatal Nurse

    Neonatal nurses care for newborns that need medical support, including premature babies in the NICU. They often work in a hospital setting where they take care of newborns experiencing illnesses or other medical problems.

    Neonatal nurses must train as registered nurses and complete clinical rotations in neonatal care settings. They can also pursue a bachelor’s degree to move into specialized roles. Some neonatal nurses earn a master’s degree to work as neonatal nurse practitioners.

  • Childcare Center Worker

    Childcare workers care for infants and young children in childcare facilities and private homes. They feed and diaper babies, put infants and toddlers down for naps, and introduce play-based activities to foster development. Childcare workers also monitor children for developmental issues and keep records about each child’s schedule and interests.

    With experience, childcare workers can move into supervisory roles, like childcare center director. Directors oversee staff and manage facilities, like preschools.

  • Pediatrician

    Pediatricians care for babies and children with medical conditions or injuries. As a medical specialty, pediatricians complete medical school and spend several years in a pediatrics residency program. Pediatricians also need board certification from the American Board of Pediatrics.

    During medical school, pediatricians complete clinical rotations in different settings where they work with newborn babies, infants, and young children. Pediatricians earn a median salary of over $177,000 per year.

Common Degrees for Working with Babies

The most common degrees that lead to careers working with babies include healthcare, social science, and education. For example, nursing students, early childhood education majors, and social work majors often pursue careers working with babies. This section introduces common degrees that lead to jobs caring for babies.

  • Pre-Med

    A pre-med degree prepares college graduates for medical school. Most colleges do not offer a formal pre-med major. Instead, undergrads choose majors that meet the prerequisite requirements for med school, completing coursework in areas like biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and statistics. A social science or humanities degree also prepares graduates for med school.

    After earning an undergraduate degree, prospective doctors must take the MCAT and apply to medical school. In medical school, they complete specialized training for roles like pediatrician and pediatric surgeon.

  • Nursing

    Neonatal and pediatric nurses work with babies. Nurses can specialize their training during an undergraduate nursing degree. Nursing programs incorporate clinical rotations in different settings to prepare nurses for jobs working with babies. Graduate nursing programs prepare nurses to move into advanced practice roles that lead to working with babies, such as nurse midwife, pediatric nurse practitioner, and family nurse practitioner.

    In addition to earning a nursing degree, registered nurses must apply for a license from their state and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

  • Early Childhood Education

    An early childhood education degree prepares graduates for jobs working with babies and children, including childcare worker, preschool teacher, and preschool director. During an early childhood education degree, learners explore educational practices, developmental milestones, and early childhood curriculum development. Many programs emphasize a play-based learning approach where educators incorporate basic skills in playtime activities.

    In addition to coursework, early childhood education majors complete practicum hours to gain hands-on experience working with babies.

  • Psychology

    A psychology degree emphasizes research, analytical, and critical thinking skills. During a psychology degree, majors take courses on topics like abnormal psychology, psychology research, experimental psychology, and statistics.

    About 57% of graduates with a bachelor’s in psychology enter the workforce immediately after graduation, while the rest pursue a graduate degree. Psychology careers that involve working with babies include child psychologist and developmental psychologist, both of which require a doctorate. Other potential career paths include child development specialist, case worker, and childcare worker.

Career and Salary Outlook for Working with Babies

Professionals may interact with infants and care for young children in many fields, including education, childcare, social services, and healthcare. Salaries vary by factors like industry, role, experience, and education. This section introduces career and salary data for common careers that involve working with babies.

  • Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

    Preschool and childcare center directors manage childcare workers and oversee daily operations at childcare facilities. They create educational plans, manage budgets, and hire staff members. Preschool and childcare center directors also set policies, monitor standards, and communicate with parents.

  • Social Workers

    Social workers help families manage various issues and challenges in their lives. Child and family social workers may investigate suspected neglect and abuse to protect young children. They may also help families find childcare and housing, arrange adoptions, and work closely with foster families.

  • Physicians and Surgeons

    Physicians and surgeons who specialize in family medicine or pediatrics care for babies. Pediatricians, for instance, care for newborns, infants, and young children. They diagnose medical conditions, recommend treatments, and educate parents on caring for babies. Pediatric surgeons treat neonatal and infant disorders and diseases. These careers require a medical degree.

  • Psychologists

    Psychologists diagnose and treat mental health issues. Several psychology specializations involve working with infants and young children, including child psychology, clinical psychology, and developmental psychology. For example, developmental psychologists research psychological development from birth through old age, with some focusing on babies. Psychologists typically need a doctorate and a state-issued license to practice.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Preschool and Childcare Center Directors $48,210 1%
Social Workers $50, 470 13%
Physicians and Surgeons $208,000 4%
Psychologists $80,370 3%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certifications and Licensure for Working with Babies

Many organizations offer certifications and licenses for professionals in jobs that involve working with babies. For example, neonatal nurses, childcare workers, and social workers can pursue professional credentials to demonstrate their skills and training. Most certifications set minimum education requirements and include a certification exam.

Critical Care Registered Nurse (Neonatal) Certification

This certification recognizes experienced nurses who work in NICUs, cardiac care units, ICUs, and other settings. Candidates must hold an RN license and 1,750 hours of direct experience with neonatal patients during a two-year period or at least 2,000 hours in a five-year period.

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Certified Child Care Worker

The CCCW credential recognizes experienced childcare workers. Candidates need formal training or work experience in childcare. They must also pass an exam that covers topics like developmental issues, children’s basic needs, and child safety. With the credential, childcare workers can care for children in preschools, childcare centers, and private homes.

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Red Cross Child and Baby First Aid

The Red Cross offers a training course in child and baby first aid, including CPR. The course includes simulations and interactive experiences that prepare people to recognize and respond to emergencies. The Red Cross also offers a pediatric first aid course.

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Scholarships for Students Working with Babies

Students pursuing degrees that lead to careers working with babies can take advantage of scholarships to lower the cost of their degree. Professional associations, private foundations, and government agencies all support degree-seekers interested in careers working with babies. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for students seeking careers that involve working with babies.

  • Dietetic Internship/Pre-Professional Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group offers a pre-professional scholarship to learners studying to become pediatric nutritionists. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.3 GPA.

    Amount: $1,000

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  • T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: This program supports childcare workers pursuing training. The program works with recipients’ current employer to provide financial support for school.

    Amount: Varies

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  • ANN Ingrid Josefin Ridky Academic Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Academy of Neonatal Nursing offers a scholarship for neonatal nurses earning a bachelor’s or graduate degree. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and currently work as a neonatal nurse.

    Amount: $1,000

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