Human Services Worker: Job Description, Requirements & Salary

Oct 20, 2021

What Are Human Services Workers?

Human services worker is a catch-all term for professions dealing with helping people. These workers are often referred to as social workers or caseworkers. You'll need great problem-solving skills as well as a high level of empathy in order to be successful in this position. Human services is a broad field encompassing many occupations, including social workers, substance abuse counselors, and caseworkers. The goal of a human services worker is to help people in need. In this career, problem-solving and a compassionate outlook go hand in hand.

Career Title Social and Human Services Assistants Social Workers Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Required Education High school diploma Bachelor of Social Work; Master of Social Work for clinical social workers; Anywhere from a high school diploma to a graduate degree, depending on position; those in private practices require a master's degree
Other Requirements Those with some college education are more likely to advance Licensure and/or certification required Those in private practices must be licensed
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 17% 13% 25%
Median Salary (2019)* $35,060 $61,230 $46,240

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Human Services Workers Do?

A human services job description can vary by position and exmployer. Many positions fit under the human services umbrella, including child abuse worker, crisis intervention counselor, group activities aide, and therapeutic assistant. Regardless of one's job title, a career in human services revolves around three major functions that define human services responsibilities: evaluating needs, developing a treatment or remediation plan, and putting the plan to work (always with the objective of meeting clients' specific requirements). A human services worker can be a counselor helping veterans adjust to civilian life, a life skills instructor assisting developmentally challenged adults, or a client advocate working with displaced families, for example.

Although job duties vary from one human services occupation to the next, some level of individual or group counseling is usually present. Cases need to be documented carefully. Human services workers investigate what resources are available for their clients and help clients get into programs designed to assist them. Human services workers can find employment at mental health centers, family services agencies, substance abuse treatment centers, or halfway houses, among other places.

What Is the Role of a Human Service Worker?

Some of the specific human service worker duties include:

  • Facilitating conflict resolution
  • Coordinating various support groups that deal with cases of abuse
  • Providing counseling services to those with mental, physical, emotional challenges
  • Taking protective legal action when a need arises
  • Helping families, communities, and individuals in dealing with the challenges they encounter, as well as helping to improve their lives

What Are the Education Requirements?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, applicants can generally obtain entry-level positions with an associate's degree. These jobs usually involve interviewing clients and taking care of the paperwork associated with cases. With a bachelor's degree, a human services worker can provide advice and support in addition to managing cases. A master's degree enables a human services specialist to do more extensive counseling or clinical work and could be required for some positions, such as social worker or family counselor (

Bachelor's in Human Services Courses

  • Case management: Equips one with the understanding of ethical and legal practices related to human services cases.
  • Crises Intervention: Useful in understanding best the best practices while dealing with crisis situations.
  • Planning and budgeting: For proper management of available resources, and mostly for those working at managerial levels in human services provision.
  • Human development: For understanding how human development is different among different people.
  • Social advocacy: Teaches the candidates to understand the institutional biases that the clients may face and how to deal with them.

Human Services Bachelor's Degree Concentrations

  • Youth services
  • Addiction
  • Criminal justice
  • Healthcare
  • Cultural studies

What Are the Licensing Requirements?

Human services workers employed as social workers, counselors or educators in private and government agencies, schools, and health care organizations generally require some form of licensing through the state. Depending on the occupation, academic and experience requirements vary but could include graduate-level education and documentation of several hours of supervised practice. Some human services workers, such as counselors, might need to be tested on their knowledge of laws as they pertain to the career. Continuing education is commonly required to maintain a license.

How Can I Advance My Human Services Career?

Advancing in a human services career could involve completing additional education as well as specializing in a niche occupation. A deep commitment to serving clients is essential, something supervisors might look for when considering promotions. In addition, those who show genuine caring and respect when interacting with clients, communicate well, demonstrate resourcefulness in resolving issues, and know how to manage their time are often the candidates who advance into roles with greater responsibility.

What Is the Job Outlook & Salary for Human Services Workers?

Why choose human services as a career? Well, the salary and job outlook may be a motivator. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and human service assistants could expect job growth of 17% during the decade 2019-2029. At the same time, social workers could expect job growth of 13%, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors could expect job growth of 25%

The BLS reported a median annual salary of $35,060 for social and human service assistants, $61,230 for social workers in general, and $46,240 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors as of May 2019.

Examples of Human Service Workers Career Titles

  • Family support worker
  • Youth worker
  • Case worker
  • Drug abuse counselor
  • Neighborhood worker
  • Rehabilitation case worker
  • Eligibility counselor
  • Behavioral management aide
  • Community outreach worker

Whether you have your eyes set on becoming a substance abuse counselor or a social services worker who works closely with children, the basics of the job are the same: compassion and critical thinking skills. If you think you possess these two human service worker skills then a career as a human services worker may just be for you.

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