Education and Careers
People who work in human services help people overcome obstacles and get access to services such as counseling, therapy and rehabilitation. They work to improve the lives of people in need who need these services the most.
What They Do
The field of human services is a broad one indeed. Under this umbrella you’ll find jobs such as social worker, school psychologist, mental health counselor, childcare worker, and even sociologist and clergyman.
They work in halfway houses; correctional facilities; community mental health centers; family, child, and youth service agencies; and programs dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence and aging.
A degree in human services is just the beginning, and this is a potential gateway to other social-service careers. Many who begin as human services assistants go on to become social workers, counselors, and many other professions. Whatever their job title, they are tireless advocates, and society would be worse off without these missionary-spirit human services workers.
Skills You Need
Learn which personality traits and professional skills you’ll need to work in human services.
You should have…
- Excellent goal-setting skills
- High ethical standards
- Clear boundaries
- Excellent communication skills
How to Become a Human Services Worker
It’s impossible to say exactly how to become a human services worker because that phrase can mean so many different things.
That said, since there are over 600,000 social workers in the U.S., below are the steps for becoming a social worker. If you’re interested in another field, check with your state’s department of licensing to see what’s needed to pursue the career of your choice.
Get a Bachelor’s Degree
For entry-level positions, you’ll need an undergraduate degree with a focus on social work. However, this is just the first step because most human services workers ultimately need a master’s degree.
Earn an Advanced Degree
If you want to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a master’s (MSW) or doctoral degree in social work is required. Make sure your school is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Supervised Work Experience
Before becoming a full-fledged social worker, you’ll need work experience under the supervision of a mentor. The number of hours of supervised work depends on your state’s requirements, but 1,500 hours is a common number.
Pass the Social Work Exam
You will need to pass the Clinical Level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.
Apply for Licensure in Your State
In order to practice social work, you must be licensed by your state board of social work.
Human services professionals may not get rich on their salaries, but they are well paid. Salaries can vary a lot depending on location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
Compare salaries below:
Human Services Assistants
Child, Family & School Social Workers
Substance Abuse Counselors
Mental Health Counselors
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
The job outlook for social and human service assistants is great. Employment is expected to grow 16 percent through 2026. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Here are some other fields you might like if entry-level human services isn’t exactly what you’re looking for:
Related Human Services Reading
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