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Inside Human Services Careers

Insider tips you need to know to choose and succeed in the right career


Career Background

  Human Services Salaries

Surprising and Helpful Information

Detailed info from people on the job

Examples of likes and dislikes:


"watching patients take control of their lives and emotions. Working with people is exciting because there are more differences than similarities in the way people think. When a patient allows you to be a part of his journey it is truly rewarding."


"the bureaucracy we work within. Social problems do not change quickly and working on the 'front lines' can be exhausting if you do not take good care of yourself and remain firm about your principles."

Career Overview

Individuals interested in the health and social needs of our society may be attracted to a career in human services. A broad array of jobs exist in human services, all with the goal of improving the lives of members in the community by addressing any domestic or child care issues, psychological and emotional problems, or other home and family matters. Human services professionals might help a family deal with an illness or addiction, assist the elderly with daily tasks, or work with troubled youth to encourage positive change. Quite often, professionals work for or with state and local government agencies that operate programs and services to assist individuals in need. Some examples of jobs in this field include social workers, clergy, drug and alcohol counselors, and gerontology aides, to name a few.

Career Skills

Skills vary by occupation, but in general, human services workers have a strong desire to help others and have a high level of social perceptiveness. Workers also should be compassionate and caring, and have good communication and listening skills in order to effectively work with clients and their families. Other qualifications may include good time management skills and the ability to work independently.


Educational requirements vary by occupation, with most employers preferring workers with an education level beyond high school. Many human services positions require a minimum of a bachelorís degree, such as social workers or many positions within government agencies, hospitals and clinics, or organizations that provide health and social services. Many colleges and universities offer bachelorís and masterís programs in human services, preparing workers for a variety of careers in social work, counseling, and client advocacy. In addition to educational requirements, some professions require State licensure and registrations.

Career Options

A wide variety of job choices are available to human services professionals in state and local government agencies, non-profit organizations, clinics, shelters, hospitals, group homes, and private offices. The following are some examples of career choices:

  • Geriatric social workers try to enhance the quality of life for the elderly and help them enjoy productive and happy lives. They help senior citizens function in their home environments and solve personal and family problems. Issues that geriatric social workers may deal with includes helping with special transportation, home health aides, therapy for anxiety or depression, and assisting with programs at day care centers and other community organizations.
  • Health and medical social workers offer psychological support to individuals and their families who are coping with chronic, acute, and terminal injuries and illnesses. Social workers may counsel patients and family caregivers, and help with hospital discharge plans, home healthcare services, and any other patient needs.
  • Substance abuse counselors, also called addiction counselors, help people who have alcohol and drug problems. They counsel addicts as well as family members, and help with recovery plans and coping strategies. Counselors may work with individuals as well as in a support group setting in clinics, hospitals, treatment centers, or halfway houses.
  • Clergy are religious leaders for a specific religion, such as for Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, among others. Responsibilities include teaching aspects of religious life and leading worship services. Clergy also provide support and counsel to congregation members and assist with life-cycle events surrounding the birth of a child, the death of a family member, or coming of age ceremonies.