Inside Human Service Manager Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"This Job Provides To Be Very Fulfilling...
Very fulfilling job where you help a lot of people. Computer skills and grant experience helpful." (Operations Manager; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, female
School: Studied Social Science at Oregon State University in Oregon; completed Bachelor degree in 2000

"Internships Absolutely Necessary...
I was surprised that the skills I needed were not addressed in my classroom coursework, but were learned in my position as research assistant in graduate school." (Executive Director; 2013)

Career: , female
School: Studied Social Work Administration at University Of Wisconsin--Milwaukee in Wisconsin; completed Master degree in 1972

"Everyone Has Troubles...
I am surprised by how many difficulties everyone faces every day. Growing up you think that everyone has it figured out but that turns out to be not the case at all." (Human Services; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied Psychology at Brigham Young University in Utah; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

"I was surprised that the difficult part of my job is rarely the individuals I work with and assist. It is more often the people who own the mental health agencies that are the most difficult. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the educational side of social services. You rarely think about the use of education in your counseling, but I loved incorporating new skills and teaching good habits to improve quality of life." (Associate Director Of A Non-Profit Serving Adults With Mental Health Issues; 2013)

Career: 17 years of experience, currently based in Louisiana, female
School: Studied Marriage And Family Counseling at Our Lady Of Holy Cross College in Louisiana; completed Master degree in 2000

"Office Skills Essential To Human Services Work...
Many people would be surprised to learn that knowledge of computer programs like MSOffice are essential to social work. Time management skills are also essential for effective work." (Community Services Coordinator; 2014)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Psychology at SUNY New Paltz in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2003

"People Are Needy...
I was surprised the most by how needy so many people are in day to day work. I love helping people out, but it can get overwhelming." (Sales; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Psychology at SMU in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"Making Effective Terminations Require HR Discipline...
What student need to understand are the negative aspects that the job entails. The unpleasant tasks one must fulfill. Things such as counseling employees, terminating employees and negatively responding to promotion/transfer requests and effectively working with individuals whom you are full aware will not be associated with the company for the long term. It is tough to be unsympathetic to employees situations that have such an impact on people's lives. HR professionals are trained NOT to apologize for their actions. This can be extremely distressing when things like budget cuts result in staff reductions." (HR Manager; 2013)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied HR Social Sciences at Nova SE University in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 1990

"Different Clientele Needing Assistance...
I was surprised to find that I help more of the people who have been here longer than those who just started. The 401ks and everything are hard for them to understand." (Receptionist; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, female
School: Studied Social Work at Taylor University Fort Wayne in Indiana; completed Associate degree in 2008

"I was surprised to see how many clients don't utilize my services as much as they should. As a client services director I need to maintain relationships with our clients and continue their education as to how to use us." (Client Services Director; 2012)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Delaware, female
School: Studied Business at Delaware State University in Delaware; completed Associate degree in 2004

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Staff Supervisor: "My job is very challenging and at times very time consuming and draining. The specific population that I am dealing with can be very challenging as a result of their life histories and also their developmental stage. Adolescence is a challenging time in a child's life and to add the stress and responsibilities of motherhood along with it is hard. At the same time my job can be very rewarding at times. Seeing families reunited or watching a new mother care for her child appropriately after giving her guidance is very rewarding. Often former clients will visit or call the program to tell us how much we helped them grow into contributing members of society." (2011)

Director Of A County Government Agency: "The best part of my career is being involved in services that better my community and the lives of families and children. It is satisfying to know that what we do make a positive difference. I also enjoy leading and motivating employees, showing them a vision of what we all can accomplish as we work toward our mission. The worst part of my career is dealing with people who are unhappy with the services we provided. This disappointment may arise from unrealistic expectations or may be driven by the fact that we are perceived as interfering in their lives. Another challenge is the constant lack of adequate funding to meet all of our needs." (2011)

Administrator For Public Child Welfare Agency: "The job is all-consuming and I often work way beyond 8 hours a day." (2010)

Career Background

Human Service Manager

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Tips

"Prepare For Career By Gaining Direct Care Experience In Advance...
Direct care experience is required even with advanced college degrees for higher level careers. Working as a direct care professional while attending college is recommended." (Community Services Coordinator; 2014)

"Social Service Administrators Need Basic Accounting...
If you plan to work in social work administration, take a course in accounting. It's necessary for budgeting, for determining compensation, and to prevent commingling of funds." (Executive Director; 2013)

"Self Care...
Make sure you do emotional self-evaluations often. The career can be very stressful and emotionally draining especially if you're not careful and don't take care of yourself." (Human Services; 2013)

"Keep Up On Knowledge...
Make sure that even though you aren't in school you stay educated on laws and changes in government." (Receptionist; 2013)

"Training For Social Work...
Make sure you receive some training in grants." (Operations Manager; 2013)

"Long Hours, High Stress...
Make sure you know what you are getting in to, because the hours are long, the pay is low and there is a lot of stress." (Sales; 2013)

"Seek Out The Best Client Population For You...
There are so many different choices of populations to work with. Not all populations are created equal- some will fell more "right" than others. Find the population that you feel most energized and relaxed with. For me, I preferred working with individuals with mental health issues over people with developmental disabilities. Both were rewarding, but one felt more natural to my soul." (Associate Director Of A Non-Profit Serving Adults With Mental Health Issues; 2013)

"Know The Emotional Control Required To Be A HR Manager...
Begin your career as an HR Generalist in which you can observe a HR professional. Seldom can one go from college to the position of HR Manager without successfully completing an internship in an HR department." (HR Manager; 2013)

"Maintain Proper Staff/Client Relationships...
Human service or social service is a very demanding career choice. In order to be successful in this career choice you have to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Also you have to be able to let things stay at work and not let the stress of the job affect your personal life. You have to maintain boundaries with clients and never cross the line between staff and client. Also you have to realize that human/social service professionals do not make a lot of money." (Staff Supervisor; 2011)

"Take The Lead...
Look for opportunities to show leadership in any area of your life. While you are in college look to be involved in student government or leadership of volunteer groups. All experience in leading people is transferable and will teach you how to motivate and inspire. In your early career volunteer to be responsible for work that is not necessarily yours. These are chances to learn how to lead and direct as well as opportunities for your abilities to be brought to the attention of upper management." (Director Of A County Government Agency; 2011)

"Must Do Social Work First...
Without a doubt you must enter this field and do social work and "carry" cases. You have to be on the streets, in schools, family's homes and the court system to gain experience in working with children and families. The experience is invaluable and will enhance your ability to be a good supervisor and manager in the years to come." (Administrator For Public Child Welfare Agency; 2010)