People interested in a career in human services can become social workers or social and community service managers with a related bachelor's degree. With less training, careers as social and human service assistants may still be available. Learn more about the educational requirements and employment and wage prospects of each of these three career paths.
Individuals working in human services, social services or public works usually focus on populations in need of assistance, such as the mentally disabled, low-income families, substance abusers or the homeless. A Bachelor of Science in Human Services program can teach students how to interact with clients and run various types of human services programs. These programs might feature concentrations in areas such as social psychology, child psychology or psychological disorders. Related degree programs that some students pursue include social work and public health.
|Career Titles||Social and Human Service Assistants||Social and Community Service Managers||Social Workers|
|Education Requirements||High school diploma or certificate or associate's degree in human services, gerontology, behavioral science or social work||Bachelor's or master's degree in urban studies, social work, public health, public administration or business administration||Bachelor's or master's degree in social work, psychology or a related discipline|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||11%||10%||12%|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$30,830||$63,530||$58,560|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bachelor of Science programs in human services can translate to a variety of careers. Among them are social and human service assistants, social and community service managers, and social workers.
Social and Human Service Assistants
Social and human service assistants offer support to those who are experiencing trying times. They might locate specific community services or assistance programs for residents or assist individuals who need help with bathing or eating.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for social and human service assistants are expected to grow 11% from 2014-2024. A May 2015 report from the BLS showed that the annual median salary for these workers was $30,830, with most workers earning $20,120-$49,570 (www.bls.gov).
Social and Community Service Managers
These professionals coordinate and direct social services programs. They oversee social workers and other staff and prepare program budgets.
Employment was expected to expand by 10% during the 2014-2024 decade. The median annual salary for social and community service managers was $63,530 in May 2015.
Social workers help people by investigating crisis situations or diagnosing behavioral or mental problems. They research and identify community services for their clients who need child care, medical services or food stamp assistance.
The BLS predicted a growth rate of 12% between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, social workers received a median annual salary of $58,560.
Most human services degree programs teach students about real-world applications of human services programs, as well as the administrative side of running these programs. To gain an understanding of how human services programs work, students first learn about different populations in need, such as the mentally and physically disabled, children, the elderly and low-income families. Next, students might take classes on potential human services programs, including criminal justice, emergency medical, child development, health services and community outreach.
After receiving instruction on various programs and populations, students learn to deal with individual clients. To train students to talk with clients in a professional manner, human services degree programs provide courses in behavioral psychology, interpersonal relationships, intervention strategies and counseling. Other core classes provide training on the fundamentals of running human services programs, including research methodologies and statistics, public service management, program funding and legal issues related to human services.
Since students who have a degree in human services can go on to multiple career paths, most degree programs allow students to specialize by choosing career path-based electives or degree concentrations. For example, students interested in helping the mentally disabled might choose elective courses focusing on social psychology, child psychology, psychological disorders or mental health institutions. Alternatively, students who want to work in social reform programs might choose courses related to social services and non-profit organizations.
Many human services degree programs require students to gain real-world experience through internship and externship programs. Usually, these programs last for 1-2 semesters, although students can elect to participate in additional internship opportunities. Through these experiences, students learn how human services professionals work with other industries, how to evaluate individual cases and how to work with various populations in need.
While obtaining an assistant position in human services will not require a bachelor's degree, professionals desiring to advance their careers (and subsequent income) will want to pursue a 4-year degree to secure positions as social workers and counselors or as human services managers. They can choose from a number of concentrations and gain experience through internships and externship programs.