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What Can You Do With a Human Development and Family Studies Major?

Human Development and Family Studies Jobs Picture of Family

This is a common question among many college students in various majors. It is more common in broader majors that do not train students for one specific career field. For instance, students of human development and family studies (HDFS), psychology, sociology, child development, and similar fields may find themselves pondering this question more often than a student of education or engineering. The simple answer to this question is, "It is up to you."

More than likely, your program is not training you for one specific career. Instead, your program is helping you to learn more content knowledge about people, families, and communities. Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide how you want to apply that knowledge. HDFS and similar majors pursue a broad range of careers as can be seen in one study of HDFS alumni published in Family Science Review (2013). You might choose to apply it in a career that is directly tied to working with people and families. You might use it to provide a broader lens that allows you to do your work better in a field that, at first glance, seems completely unrelated. You might simply want to obtain the information to better understand your own life or your own family dynamics. The choice is yours--no one should make it for you.

The best advice I ever heard about trying to determine what you want to do is to do something. I desperately wish I could remember where I heard this advice, but I simply can't. However, I can attest to its truth. Sitting around wondering what you want to do doesn't help you to find your professional path. Proactively learning about different types of organizations, learning about different types of work, learning about opportunities in your community (and outside of it), and volunteering and working will help you. At the very least, you will learn about a few things that you definitely do NOT want to do. I have definitely had those experiences!

At every point, if you simply take the next best step--yet another piece of advice that is not my own but that I cannot recall the original source of--that you can based on the information you have at the time, you will come closer to clarifying your larger professional goals. So explore.

Here are a few starting points:

1. Check your program's website to see if they have information about possible career choices or information about successful alumni.

2. Google other program websites across the country to see what information they have.

3. Visit the "Opportunity Knocking" tab on this website to learn about different types of jobs that help people.

4. Visit websites like College Factual to see what information they have about career options for HDFS and similar majors.

5. Learn about organizations in your community that work with people. This can be as simple as conducting a Google search of "senior citizens, city, and state you live in." Explore, and see what is out there.


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