If you are interested in human services, it’s likely because you have a deep desire to help people. The human services field contributes to the betterment of individuals and families by delivering a broad range of help and support. A human services professional typically assists clients in need by examining the level of their support system including individual, family, group, and the community in which they live, and identifying appropriate methods of intervention.
A human services worker must have a keen understanding of human behavior, effective communication skills, and an ability to connect with clients. Ottawa University's human services degree provides the knowledge and skills necessary to understand the policies and programs designed to help meet the needs of varied populations. Using that backdrop, let’s pinpoint some of the many people you can serve with a degree in human services and look at the diverse job options available at different levels of education and experience.
Who Can You Help with a Human Services Degree?
Because of the breadth of the human services field, there are almost limitless populations that can be assisted through federal, state, local, and non-profit programs. In fact, due to changing circumstances, any given individual or group could find themselves in a position of needing assistance at some point in their lives – most of us probably know of someone who has. Those working in human services can help make a difference in the lives of others. Below are just a few of the people to whom you might provide services:
Whether you work with national non-profit youth organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, local groups that specialize in helping the disabled or underprivileged, or foster home agencies that help those from troubled homes find safe housing, the human services professional can make a huge difference in the life of a child by providing everything from basic needs, to social services, to love and support.
Our veterans often face significant challenges when transitioning back into civilian life following years of military service, especially those who have faced the trauma of war. Many of these veterans fall through the cracks, but those in human services can help bridge the divide to stable life by coming alongside them, coordinating resources, and providing a listening and compassionate ear.
With more Baby Boomers than ever entering their golden years and requiring assistance, the role of the human services professional is of particular importance. Whether helping coordinate meal delivery, personal care assistance, nursing home decisions, or area resources for aging adults, seniors are worthy of both respect and compassionate care when no longer able to fully care for themselves.
Natural disasters of all kinds occur around the world every year including fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, to earthquakes. Real humans are impacted by these natural events, and they often don’t know where to turn. Human services professionals can work with relief organizations such as the American Red Cross or private non-profit organizations to guide disaster victims through the bureaucracy of getting assistance, whether on-site or in the days and weeks following.
- Those with Mental Health Conditions
There is a mental health crisis in the U.S., and human services assistants often help their clients find resources, treatment options, and support groups. They may also assist those who are severely affected by connecting them with group homes or other care settings to provide the structure they need to thrive. Direct counseling is not traditionally the role of the human services professional, though an advanced degree in counseling can open the door to helping clients work toward a path to stability.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is alive and well, and its survivors aren’t always obvious. They can be a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or even a family member. Helping survivors recover from abuse may include finding them a safe and lasting solution, connecting them to housing and resources, and getting them the emotional support they need.
Approximately every one in 110 people is incarcerated in the U.S. in his or her lifetime. When paroled, it can be extremely difficult to reintegrate into everyday life and avoid the pitfalls leading to re-imprisonment. Those in human services can help former inmates get back on their feet with resources like job training, housing, employment, support services, and more.
Nobody ever expects to become homeless, but multiple unfortunate circumstances can put someone out on the street. Human services professionals help the homeless who are struggling to hold together by finding housing, both temporary and permanent, as well as coordinating government and nonprofit resource assistance to provide a foundation for rebuilding their lives.
Beyond these populations, those in human services might also serve those who are living with disabilities, immigrants, the unemployed, indigenous peoples, those suffering loss, broken families, people with substance use disorders, or those needing health services.
As you can see, what’s especially inviting about human services as a career is its diversity. If you have a passion for serving a particular group, maybe because of personal or family history, you can tailor your studies towards that population and be sure to seek internships, volunteer opportunities, or entry-level human services jobs with that specific group.
Entry-Level Human Services Jobs
What kinds of human services jobs serve these different populations and what are the educational requirements? At the introductory level, people often begin working in human services as they work toward earning a bachelor’s degree. These entry-level human services jobs can then be stepping stones to other careers within the field. Once you earn your degree, these starting roles may garner more responsibilities and higher salaries or lead to quicker advancement. Examples of entry-level human services jobs include:
- Home Health Aide
- Child Care Worker
- Probations Officer
- Resource Referral Specialist
- Social and Human Service Assistants
- Community Outreach Specialist
- Youth Worker
- Child Welfare Advocate
- Disaster Relief Worker
- Probation Officer
- Public Health Educator
- Behavioral Management Aide
- Court Appointed Advocate
- Mental Health Aide
- Group Home Worker
- Life Skills Instructor
- Community Outreach Coordinator
- Grief Counselor
- Cultural Liaison
- Health Services Advocate
So many options! Another way to explore the types of jobs in this field is to research the social service agencies in your area, learn what groups they serve, and identify what roles within the agencies serve them.
List of Jobs in the Human Services Field
Once you have gained additional experience and earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the list of jobs in the human services field opens up much wider. You can move into an administrative role or pursue careers that are human services-related, such as on the medical or counseling side. Keep in mind that, depending on the job you’re seeking, you may have to obtain a specific degree such as a master's in counseling, and/or licensure. With that in mind, the following list of jobs in the human services field includes those that are higher up the ladder.
- Case Manager
- Community Development Officer
- Emergency Management Director
- Public Policy Consultant
- School Counselor
- Social Worker
- Social and Community Services Administrator
- Sociological Survey Researcher
Working in Human Services
Whether you are just entering the field or are advancing within your career, working in human services can be extremely rewarding. While it may be challenging, there will be many successes that drive you. You will be called on to use a wide range of knowledge and skills to effectively assist these individuals and assess their needs. Students in Ottawa University’s Human Services program gain an understanding of the biological, psychological, and sociocultural influences that contribute to behavior patterns as well as the different theories that impact human development.
As part of your program completion, you will further strengthen your skills by gaining real-world experience through immersive, hands-on internship opportunities. You will work directly with clients and sharpen your observation and interviewing skills. Not only that, you will develop your case management skills by becoming familiar with forms, following processes, and improving documentation methods. Most importantly, the development of key human services traits such as exhibiting compassion, showing empathy, improving cultural competency, displaying active listening, and building rapport will help you connect with a wide range of clients. A career in human services can be one of the most satisfying there is. Consider the reward of empowering individuals to improve their lives as the incentive you need to pursue your dream of helping others.
Who Will You Serve?
With such a diverse list of people you can help and an equally diverse list of jobs in the human services field, what’s holding you back? Get more information about Ottawa University’s human services degree today!
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