Apart from aiming to get a well-paying job that will give you the financial freedom you desire, having a fulfilling career is equally invaluable.
However, the salaries of most certified professionals who work with children do not reflect their invaluable role in helping shape tomorrow’s generation.
According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, the United States had approximately 72.8 million children in 2020 and the number is projected to increase to 78.2 million by 2050.
Currently, there are approximately 23.5 million kids in the 0-5 age group, 24.3 million in the 6-11 age group, and 25.1 million in the 12-17 age group.
The rising number of kids means the demand for child professionals will keep rising. There is a need for experts in different fields including health care, education, and growth & development among others.
High-paying careers working with children in 2022
- Child psychiatrist – $220,380
- Pediatrician – $184,570
- Pediatric dentist – $180,830
- Juvenile justice lawyer – $148,910
- Pediatric dental hygienist – $103,340
- Education administrator – $100,340
- School principal – $96,400
- Speech-language pathologist – $82,000
- School psychologist – $80,370
- Pediatric registered nurse – $77,460
Note that these are the mean annual salaries, which means the highest-paid experts in each of these fields earn more.
That said, let’s have an in-depth look at fifteen high-paying careers working with kids in the United States. Some of these jobs pay as high as $220,000 a year.
1. Juvenile justice lawyer
Juvenile justice lawyers represent minors in courts. They work with minors who are accused of committing criminal infractions or as child advocates defending minors, such as in cases of child abuse & neglect, child trafficking, labor exploitation, and foster care & adoption.
One has to fulfill the same education requirements as other attorneys to become a licensed juvenile justice lawyer. They can work in practice areas such as non-profit organizations that advocate on behalf of children, direct representation via Legal Services/Legal Aid offices, state & federal agencies, and private & public law firms.
The average annual for juvenile justice lawyers is $148,910. The highest-paid earns more than $190,000 a year, which makes this one of the highest-paying jobs working with kids.
2. Child psychiatrist
Child psychiatry is a branch of medicine that focuses on the study and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders in childhood.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders, including substance use disorders. They can assess both the physical and mental aspects of psychological problems.
Child psychiatrists also develop treatment plans for patients, evaluate a child’s behavior, and help treat disorders such as attention deficit, anxiety, and eating disorders.
The mean annual wage for psychiatrists is $220,380, which makes it one of the best high-paying jobs working with kids in the U.S.
Pediatricians are doctors who focus primarily on the health of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatric care stretches from birth through the 21st birthday, although it can as well go beyond that.
The role of a pediatrician includes preventing, diagnosing, and managing physical, developmental, and behavioral issues affecting kids.
It is one of the best-paying jobs that deal with kids, with their average annual salary being $184,570. The highest-paid pediatricians earn more than $208,000 a year.
4. Pediatric dentist
Pediatric dentists help diagnose and treat dental diseases in children. They also advise and instruct on the right dental care practices. Some of the responsibilities of pediatric dentists include removing decay from teeth and filling cavities, removing or repairing damaged teeth, and placing whitening agents or sealants on teeth.
These specialists also administer anesthetics before undertaking dental procedures, examine dental x-rays to diagnose dental problems, prescribe antibiotics and other dental medications, and educate patients on diets, brushing, flossing, and other dental care aspects.
5. Speech-language pathologist
Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess, diagnose, and treat speech and swallowing disorders in adults and children. The disorders can result from a stroke, hearing loss, brain injury, a cleft palate, autism, Parkinson’s disease, or a developmental delay.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38% of speech-language pathologists work in educational institutions at state and local levels. Speech-language pathologists evaluate speech, language, and swallowing difficulty levels and identify the appropriate treatment options.
They also create individualized treatment plans for patients, teach children and adults to make sounds, and help children and adults improve and maintain speech fluency.
Being a speech-language pathologist is one of the highest-paying jobs working with children with autism. Their mean annual salary is $82,000 with the top earners earning more than $121,260.
6. Pediatric registered nurse
Seeing that smiley face as you help a sick or injured child to regain their health and vitality is priceless, especially for anyone that loves children. Pediatric nurses assess and record patients’ medical conditions and administer treatments and medicines.
They also help to set up or improve patient care plans, carry out diagnostic tests, explain home care plans to patients, and teach the patients or their immediate families how to manage illnesses or injuries.
Pediatric registered nurses earn a mean annual salary of $77,460 with the top earners earning more than $111,220 per year.
7. Pediatric dental hygienist
Pediatric dental hygienists examine children’s dental health for oral diseases such as gingivitis and provide appropriate preventive care. Pediatric dental hygienists remove tartar, plaque & stains from teeth, take and develop dental x-rays, and assess the patient’s oral health & report to dentists.
They also document patients’ care & treatment plans and educate them on oral hygiene. The mean annual wage for pediatric dental hygienists is $77,230 with the top earners earning more than $103,340 per year, which makes this one of the highest-paying jobs working with children.
8. School psychologist
School psychologists are certified professionals whose tasks involve identifying, addressing, and overcoming learning and behavioral challenges learners face in school.
As a school psychologist, you will be tasked to provide in-depth psychological services that play a key role in helping students succeed academically, behaviorally, socially, and emotionally.
School psychologists help students who are victims of bullying in school, students struggling with their academics, and those experiencing problems at home as well as those with disabilities or mental issues.
The median annual wage for psychologists is $80,370 with the top earners earning more than $132,070 per year.
Here’s a short overview of what school psychologists do. Video courtesy: Mrs. School Psych.
9. School and career counselor
School counselors are tasked with helping students improve academic and social skills that play a key role in their success in school while career counselors help students explore careers or in choosing an education program that will lead to a specific career.
They identify issues affecting the academic performance of students, evaluate students’ interests and abilities through interviews & aptitude assessments, and work with parents, teachers, and administrators to help learners succeed.
They also help students understand & overcome behavioral and social problems and to formulate plans to achieve their academic goals. They also play an important role in helping teachers and students address issues such as bullying and drug abuse
The mean annual wage for school and career counselors is $57,040 with the top earners earning more than $96,090 per year.
10. Early childhood educator
The joy of playing an invaluable role in educating young children and shaping their future cannot be measured in monetary terms. Early childhood educators care for and educate young kids, helping them and shaping their cognitive and social development.
They come up with ideas and activities that engage the kids with the goal being to help them develop, grow, and flourish. It is a rewarding job that pays well.
The average annual salary for early childhood educators in the U.S. is $37,750 and the highest-paid earn more than $54,000 a year.
A child welfare social worker helps vulnerable children and those from disadvantaged families meet their needs. They also help families resolve conflict and can intervene in cases of neglect or abuse. One needs a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs but can also seek child welfare certification through the National Association of Social Workers.
Social workers may work for non-profit organizations, government agencies, or even families. With a master’s degree in social work, one can provide advanced care services, including diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues and behavioral disorders.
According to the BLS, child and family social workers earn an average annual salary of $52,370. The highest-paid professionals earn more than $80,290, which makes this one of the high-paying jobs working with kids.
12. Pediatric nutritionist/dietician
If you’re conscious about what children eat then pursuing a career as a pediatric nutritionist can be rewarding. Pediatric nutritionists or dieticians create special meal plans for kids based on their physical and medical conditions, help kids with selective eating habits, develop weight-management programs for kids, provide nutritional aid for kids with various conditions, and work with kids during the transition from feeding tubes back to mouth feeding.
One needs to be good with kids and be a good communicator to enjoy doing this every day. Understanding a patient’s health condition and their food allergies is extremely important considering the role they play in designing patient nutritional plans.
The mean annual salary for pediatric nutritionists is $64,150 and the top earners get more than $90,000 a year.
13. Education administrator
Education administrators in kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative, academic, and auxiliary activities.
Although you will handle administrative duties and spend less time with the children, you still have a massive role to play in their educational development.
The mean annual wage for education administrators (kindergarten through secondary) is $100,340 while the top earners earn more than $148,630 per year.
14. School principal
School principals oversee school operations on a daily basis, which includes coordinating curriculums, managing staff, and providing a safe, conducive & productive environment for learners.
Their duties include managing school staff and activities, establishing & overseeing class schedules, developing, implementing, and maintaining curriculum standards, observing and evaluating teacher performance, meeting with teachers and parents to discuss student matters, organizing staff development programs and workshops, and managing the school budget, expenses, and supplies.
Their median annual wage is $96,400 with the top-paid 10% earning more than $148,630 per year.
15. School teacher
Being a school teacher is not only among the high-paying careers working with children but also one of the most fulfilling, that’s if you enjoy spending time with kids and young learners.
The mean annual wage for teachers varies depending on academic levels. These are the current median annual wages for school teachers.
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers – $59,670 (highest earners earn more than $97,900 per year).
- Middle School Teachers – $59,660 (highest earners earn more than $96,280 per year).
- High School Teachers – $61,660 (highest earners earn more than $99,660 per year).
List of careers working with children
Although we have highlighted a few high-paying careers working with children, there are other jobs you can do. Here’s an extended list of careers working with children:
- Juvenile justice lawyer
- Child psychiatrist
- Pediatric dentist
- Speech-language pathologist
- Pediatric registered nurse
- Pediatric dental hygienist
- School psychologist
- School and career counselor
- Early childhood educator
- Child welfare social worker
- Pediatric nutritionist/dietician
- Education administrator
- School principal
- Nanny/childcare provider
- Museum educator
- Family therapist
- Child portrait photographer
Benefits of jobs working with children
There are many benefits of exploring a career where you work with children. Apart from the fact that most of these jobs pay well, other benefits you get to enjoy include:
1. Happier, more fulfilled life
Kids, especially the young ones, have little to no baggage to deal with. They are always happier, playful, and less concerned about the things we adults have to deal with every single day. Their vibrant, playful energy will definitely rub on you leaving you happier and feeling fulfilled after a busy day at work.
You will find yourself drawing, dancing, singing, laughing, and even doing the funniest of leisure activities because that’s just how kids are. While you will have to contend with “kids being kids” and handle one mess after another, you will enjoy a less stressful life compared to those working in busy and ever-demanding workplaces.
2. A deeper sense of purpose
As mentioned before, some careers that involve children can be rewarding and fulfilling, whether jobs pay well or not. You will have the opportunity to nurture young kids to be good and successful people when they grow up. Knowing that you play an integral role in shaping their social, emotional, and cognitive development will give you a deeper sense of purpose.
There’s just a different kind of satisfaction and joy when you watch the little kid you helped nurture grow to become a good and successful person. Whether they go on to become doctors, nurses, scientists, or leaders, you know you helped shape them to become good people.
3. Exposure to innocent perspectives
If you’ve kids then you understand how fun they can be. From asking those innocent, child-like questions to being curious and fascinated by almost everything, kids will give you a different perspective about life and the ways we think, view, and do things.
The questions they ask can leave you asking yourself more questions while the simplistic answers to the questions you ask will tell you that sometimes taking the simplistic approach to tackling major problems in life can in fact be life-saving. In a nutshell, there’s always something to learn from kids.
We have highlighted a few high-paying careers working with children. You can consider any of these careers if you love spending time with kids. We have also mentioned three main benefits of why pursuing a career that involves kids can be worth it.