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.

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.


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). You may also be required to obtain licensure, depending on your state of employment.

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.

In May 2012, the BLS reported median wages of $49,830 for healthcare social workers; $39,980 for mental health and substance abuse social workers; $41,530 for child, family and school social workers; and $54,560 for other social workers not in these categories.

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.


Besides a high school diploma, there are no strict education requirements for this career. However, employers typically prefer applicants with postsecondary 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 growth is expected to be at a rate of 22% over the 2012-2022 decade, which is much faster than average. Turnover is a major factor that will create job openings. In May 2012, the median wage for these professionals was $28,850.


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.


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 wages in May 2012 were $53,610 for school and career counselors, $41,500 for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, $38,520 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors and $33,880 for rehabilitation counselors.

Probation Officer

As a probation officer, you'll 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.


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 over the decade spanning 2012 through 2022. The median wage for these professionals was $48,190 in May 2012.

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'll feed and ensure the safety of the kids you oversee, as well as play games, read aloud and teach them to socialize with others.


You'll need at least a high school diploma, though some states and employers require formal, postsecondary training. Depending on the number of children you supervise and your work setting, you may need to be licensed or certified.

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 2012 was $19,510.

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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