A group of people who share the same interests, values, culture, ethnicities or beliefs come together; they form a community. There are thousands of such communities all over the US. Community development is vital in creating and developing healthy and successful communities. However, sometimes, only people within the community help each other when major steps must be taken to sustain its growth. Economic conditions, resource allocation, and social and cultural systems are integral components for creating a strong community but, unfortunately, unavailable to a majority of the communities.
A community development specialist is what a community needs for its economic and social growth. They ensure the community gets security, social recognition and ways to grow its economy. From discovering untapped revenue potential in communities to elevating the quality of life to increasing employment opportunities, community development covers all aspects of strong communities.
It is a desirable profession for people who are idealistic with a civic mind and want to bring a positive change in a community and open gateways for the community members to flourish.
If you want to start a career in community development, you must explore different dynamics of the field to get the most out of it. To pursue a career path in this field, relevant qualifications, a license and certain skills are a must. For being a community specialist, check the courses for Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, then compare LCSW vs LPC to find out what’s right for you. After earning an LCSW, you can work on social behavior, social systems and social welfare. On the other hand, an LPC can get you a counseling license to help the community and its people.
Here are some other degrees to help you get a job in community development.
Master’s in Psychology
Psychology deals with studying the mind and its impact on human behavior. Although it primarily focuses on an individual psyche, it also studies the behavior of the group and community. After earning a Master's in Psychology, you can understand why and how people behave in a certain way and how it affects others and the overall community. During community development and planning, a degree in psychology specializing in counseling can bring positive changes to the communities.
Master’s in Social work
A Master's degree in social work is a traditional route to a career path as a community advocate. You can heavily work on evaluating social programs, conducting social research and policy analysis. Graduates gain knowledge and skills to work in the community development sector. They learn how to directly communicate with clients, record and compile status reports on individuals and communities. Social work is the desired degree for community development as it involves the study of social welfare.
Master’s in Sociology
Sociology is the investigation of factors impacting society. A degree in sociology helps you understand development policies, social structures, and functions of society. In addition, it prepares you to figure out social issues and comprehend why and how some solutions were successful in the past. As a social scientist, you will be fit to lead research on human status and local area structures. You can formulate new policies or change existing policies and launch social programs to eradicate existing social evils.
Master's in Economics
As a graduate of economics, you can handle resource allocation effectively by focusing on producing, distributing and consuming products and services. Economists evaluate choices made by people, businesses and governments and make necessary amendments for resource allocation. Two branches of economics, macroeconomics and microeconomics, help in the financial regulation of communities.
Master’s in Public Health
Public health ensures a safe and healthy community through policy-making and implementation. For better community development, a Master's in public health can prepare you to raise awareness among the masses regarding health issues and disease prevention. When communities are designed while keeping health needs under consideration, they will surely become sustainable. People would know how to fight health-related challenges and where to access healthcare services.
Master's in Natural Resource Management
Natural resource management is a vast subject that includes courses like forest management, natural resource policy, watershed management, conservation biology, rangeland ecology, geographic information systems, restoration ecology, recreation resources and wildlife management, etc. All these topics help you to plan and develop communities while managing the available natural resources in the best possible way.
Master's in Urban Planning
A Master's in urban planning train students to conduct field surveys, collect data, and plan development strategies for cities. It covers the development of open lands and renovation of existing urban areas; therefore, you can gain skills such as critical thinking, negotiation skills, and agenda setting for successful public consultation. As an urban planning graduate, you can launch a career in community development after learning to take advantage of factors like the economy, environment, etc.
Master's in Cultural Anthropology
Anthropology deals with human societies, cultures and their development. Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology that particularly covers culture and all its aspects. As a cultural anthropologist, you rely on data, concepts, and methods related to archaeology, ethnology, and ethnography. In addition, you also consider linguistics and folklore to analyze and study different communities around the world.
How can you choose the best degree for a career in community development?
- You can ask the below-mentioned questions before picking a suitable degree option:
- What are your short-term and long-term professional goals? You can unlock advanced positions with a Master's degree and required licenses.
- What are your key strengths? What areas interest you the most? If you choose an area of study that seems interesting to you, it will help you advance your career. You may consider taking help from industry experts and peers to get an idea of where success lies for you.
- What is your preferred mode of study? Whether you want to enroll in an online or on-campus degree program depends on your finances, job status, etc. Fast bachelor degrees allow you to complete your coursework at your own pace and when it’s convenient to you.
Community development uplifts new and existing communities by identifying potential barriers and challenges and resolving them. You can launch your career in community development after considering the degree options mentioned above. Some degrees focus on humans and society, such as psychology, while others incline towards the technical side, like urban planning. No matter what you opt for, choose what you like to work on in the future.