What Are Some Career Options in the Field of Human Services?

A career in human services may offer you the opportunity to help people in at-risk situations, like abuse, homelessness or illness. Read on to explore career options, including associated educational requirements, job outlook and salary potential. Schools offering Human Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

Human services professionals are needed in a wide variety of settings, including private and government social service agencies. As a human services professional, you can enter the workforce as a case manager, social service assistant, counselor, child care worker or probation officer. These workers typically focus on a specific at-risk population and help people cope with homelessness, substance abuse, pregnancy, mental illness and abuse. The following are some career options in the field of human services.

Important Facts About Human Services Careers

Social WorkerProbation OfficerChild Care Worker
LicensureAll states require social workers to be licensed. Requirements vary by state.No specific license required. Must pass a background check and drug testMost states require a license.
Similar OccupationsMental health counselors, rehabilitation counselorsCorrectional officers, police officers and detectivesTeacher, teacher assistant
Key SkillsCompassion, listening skills, interpersonal skillsCommunication skills, critical-thinking skills, emotional stabilityInstructional skills, patience, physical stamina
Work EnvironmentHospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, welfare agenciesState and local government officesDay care facilities, elementary schools, religious and civic organizations

Social Worker and Case Manager

Social workers, sometimes called case managers, connect people with the resources to overcome adverse situations, including abuse, health problems, addiction and age-related issues. They may explain healthcare options and make referrals to healthcare services. Case managers may coordinate social services across multiple agencies and service providers.

Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level jobs in this field require a bachelor's degree, and most positions entail a master's degree in social work or a related discipline (www.bls.gov).

Job Outlook and Salary

Social workers in general are expected to experience an employment growth of 19% over the 2012-2022 decade, according to the BLS. This is faster than average, although growth varies by specialty.

The BLS reported the median salary of $59,100 for social workers in 2014.

Social Service Assistant

Social service assistants help case workers and social workers deliver their services to clients. They may provide case management support or run social service programs, such as adoption services, food pantries or group homes. These professionals may also be referred to as case management aides, mental health aides and community outreach workers, and their specific duties vary according to job title.

Education

Besides a high school diploma, there are no strict education requirements for this career. However, employers typically prefer applicants with post-secondary education, such as a certificate or associate's degree in a related field.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, social and human service assistant employment is expected to grow at a rate of 22% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average. Turnover is a major factor that will create job openings. As of May 2014, the median salary for these professionals was $29,790.

Counselor

Counselors advise and guide clients to overcome life's difficulties and set paths to reach goals. Job duties will differ according to the type of counseling services you provide. For example, you might specialize in career or school counseling, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, mental health therapy or substance abuse counseling.

Education

A master's degree in counseling or psychology is generally the minimum education requirement for counseling positions. You may be required to obtain state licensure to practice in the profession.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, job growth from 2012-2022 is expected to be about average for school and career counselors, much faster than average for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, much faster than average for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and faster than average for rehabilitation counselors.

Median salaries in 2014 were $53,370 for school and vocational counselors, $40,850 for mental health counselors, $48,040 for marriage and family therapists, $39,270 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and $34,380 for rehabilitation counselors.

Probation Officer

As a probation officer, you will work within the corrections system, monitoring the conduct of people sentenced to probation instead of incarceration following conviction of a crime. In addition to seeing that the terms of probation are met, you'll help clients establish rehabilitation plans to keep from re-offending. This can include helping clients find employment, education programs and housing.

Education

Employers tend to prefer probation officers who hold a bachelor's degree in an applicable major, like social work or criminal justice. You may also be required to complete a government-sponsored training program.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS reported that there will be little or no change in probation officer and correctional treatment specialist employment from 2012 through 2022. The median salary for these professionals was $49,060 in May 2014.

Child Care Worker

Child care workers educate, supervise and nurture preschool and school-aged children. They typically work from their own homes, children's residences or day care centers. As a child care worker, you will feed and ensure the safety of the kids you oversee, as well as play games, read aloud and teach them to socialize with others.

Education

You will need at least a high school diploma. However, some states and employers require formal, post-secondary training, depending on the number of children you supervise and your work setting.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, job growth for child care workers will be about average, with a projected growth rate of 14% over the 2012-2022 decade. The median salary for these professionals in May 2014 was $19,730.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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