Undergraduate certificate program in case management provide students with the education needed to work in a human services setting like a mental health center or a long-term care facility. Associate and bachelor's degree programs in human services provide advanced studies that can lead to a career as a caseworker. Most programs include internships or field experiences in professional settings, such as a human services agency. There are no standard licensing or certification requirements for caseworkers.
Certificate of Completion in Case Management
In an undergraduate certificate program, the curriculum consists of studies in social work and client management. Students learn assessment and interviewing techniques and develop the skills required to manage a diverse group of clients. The program is human services oriented and also focuses on professionalism, ethical decision-making, and cultural sensitivity. Case management courses teach interpersonal communication skills, motivational techniques, and crisis management. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Common course topics include:
- Job development
- Case plans
- Domestic violence
- Substance abuse
Associate in Science in Human Services
In Associate in Science (AS) in Human Services programs, students learn to work with people facing issues like poverty, mental illness, abuse, developmental delays, and more. This program explores human services as a field that helps individuals and families improve their lives in the face of considerable personal difficulties. Study areas include the history of human services in the United States, public health, client relations, and more. Prospective students are required to hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Common course topics include:
- Managed care
- Suicide prevention
- Group evaluation
- Family dynamics
Bachelor of Science in Human Services
Students in Bachelor of Science (BS) in Human Services programs learn to develop treatment plans, assess and interview clients, and manage cases for individuals with varying degrees of need. The program's curriculum focuses on helping people cope with a variety of issues, including mental illness, trauma, aging, and more. Other areas of focus are research, ethics in the human services profession, and social science. Admission requirements are the same as in the previous programs. Common course topics include:
- Ethnic groups
- Criminal behavior
- Community services
- Program planning
Popular Career Options
Graduates of certificate programs are qualified to work for social agencies like child and welfare services, departments of mental health, and in a variety of other settings. Caseworkers may find positions within the correctional system, but applicants for these jobs may be required to have a bachelor's in criminal justice as well. Potential job titles are:
- Mental health worker
- Social work assistant
- Life skills counselor
Graduates of AS and BS in Human Services degree programs can go on to careers at social service agencies, mental health centers, group homes, and more. Career options for graduates include:
- Family advocate
- Activities aid
- Respite worker
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Social and human services assistants earned a mean annual salary of $33,190 and held approximately 359,350 jobs in the U.S. as of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this field were expected to grow 11% between 2014 and 2024.
Certification and Licensing Information
Though certification or licensure is not required in this profession, some positions may require that an applicant is a LSW (Licensed Social Worker). This would require a master's degree in social work. Other certifications that may be specified in a job ad for a caseworker are LCP (Licensed Professional Counselor) or LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist). Therefore, it is important that a student considers first where they wish to work on graduation in order to take the right courses and degrees.
Graduates of a technical certificate or an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in human services, criminal justice, family and marriage therapy, psychology, social work, or counseling are eligible to take the Human Services - Board Certified Practitioner examination. It is offered by the National Organization for Human Service's (NOHS) Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE). In addition to the formal education requirement, candidates must have the required number of years of experience. Certificate-holders are required to submit proof of 60 continuing education hours every five years to maintain certification.
There are multiple undergraduate programs that can provide relevant education for students who want to become caseworkers. A certificate program provides a basic introduction to the field, while AS and BS programs offer more in-depth studies of human services-related topics alongside general education coursework.