Career Definition for Human Service Professions
Human service professions include diverse fields focused on improving the quality of life of the individuals and communities they serve. The National Organization for Human Services, www.nationalhumanservices.org, describes these professionals and paraprofessionals as usually working under the direction of others and directly with the population being served. They work with social workers, psychologists, and other professionals in government-run and private settings, such as counseling centers, group homes, social welfare agency offices, and other institutions.
|Required Education||High school diploma, but associate's and bachelor's degrees are available in this field|
|Required Skills||Patience, compassion, analytical and planning skills|
|Career Outlook (2016 to 2026)*||16% growth (for social and human services assistants)|
|Median Annual Salary (2017)*||$33,120 (for social and human services assistants)|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A high school diploma is the minimum education for the human services professions, and many human services professionals have completed associate's degrees in human services or in a specialty area, such as gerontology or addiction studies. Some human services professionals hold bachelor's degrees in related fields, including social work and psychology. Education requirements vary with each employer, and a human services professional can expect to complete on-going employer-provided seminars and classes throughout his or her career.
The human services professions require patience and compassion. Because human services professionals are typically responsible for assessing and fulfilling the needs of others, they also benefit from strong analytical and planning skills. Work environments with large case loads necessitate good time-management capabilities.
Career and Economic Outlook
There will be many employment opportunities for human services professionals in the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) expects that jobs for social and human services assistants will grow by 16% from 2016 to 2026. Many of these jobs will be created due to the growing elderly population.
Though job prospects are many, earnings for social and human service assistants are relatively low. In May 2017, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for these professionals was $33,120. The highest paid ten percent earned $53,380 or more, and the ten percent of human services professionals earning the least made around $21,480 or less in 2017. Human service professionals with more education are typically given positions with increased responsibility and more pay than those with less education.
Other careers in this field include:
Those seeking a career helping individuals and families find solutions and resources to improve their lives should consider becoming a social worker. Social workers help their clients apply for welfare benefits, locate mental health and medical services, intervene in cases of abuse or neglect and follow up to evaluate progress. Some social workers also offer counseling to troubled individuals.
Entry-level jobs, such as a caseworker, may only require a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field. Social workers who provide mental health counseling or work in schools must earn a master's degree, and many of these professionals must also obtain state licensure by completing clinical hours and passing an exam.
The BLS predicts job opportunities for all types of social workers will increase by 16% during the 2016 to 2026 decade, with mental health and substance abuse social workers and healthcare workers experiencing the largest growth. In 2017, the BLS estimated that family, child and school social workers received a median annual salary of $44,380, while mental health social workers earned $43,250.
Community Service Manager
For those wanting to design programs that strengthen communities and individuals, becoming a community services manager may be a good career option. These service managers write grant proposals, oversee staff activities, evaluate program effectiveness by collecting statistics, create budgets and look for improvement options. A bachelor's degree in public administration, social work or a related field is the minimum education to work in this profession. However, employers often prefer candidates with a master's degree.
According to BLS figures from May of 2017, social and community service managers received a median wage of $64,100 per year. This field is expected to grow by 18% from 2016 to 2026, with almost 26,500 new positions opening up during that time.