What is human services? The exact definition will vary greatly depending on who you ask, as the job market is expansive and complicated to say the least. From social workers and occupational therapists to marriage counselors and mental health coordinators; the number of careers that fall under the purview of “human services” is enough to make anyone confused. At its core, anyone working in human services will tell you their main focus is to help individuals and clients become more self-sufficient.
The typical day-to-day duties of a human services worker vary greatly depending on their specific field, and so does the job outlook. For the most part, the general future for human service practitioners is sunny. Here are a few of the most common human service professions, and what you can expect from the current and future job market:
Outlook for Common Human Service Professions
Case Workers and Managers
Otherwise known as social and human services assistants, case workers will assess their client’s unique needs and devise a strategy to meet these needs, which includes finding them any necessary social services. The competition for case workers is low, as the heavy workload and long hours cause many to leave this challenging field. This combined with a healthy employment outlook makes seeking employment in the social and human services assistant field a wise choice.
Beyond diagnosing and treating a patient’s emotional or mental disorder, psychologists often work closely with other human services professionals to develop an all-encompassing treatment plan. The job prospects and competition for psychologists working the human services field varies greatly by the professional’s level of education. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that job growth for doctoral graduates is fair, while those holding on a Master’s degree will notice their job prospects are few and far between, leading many to seek employment outside the field.
There are a variety of different counselors employed in the human services field, including family therapists, guidance counselors and rehabilitation counselors. According to the BLS, the job outlook for marriage and family therapists is very favorable, and expected to grow nearly 40% by the year 2020. The cause for this rapid growth is because many insurance companies are now covering the services of counselors over psychologists or psychiatrists because their fees are generally lower. Also, the expected population growth will also see a marked increase in the number of people seeking counseling.
A social worker’s main duty is to help their clients manage their everyday life. This could mean something as simple as organizing a bank account to advocating for a child suffering from abuse or helping a patient recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. The expected job growth in this field varies depending on the professional’s specialization. For instance, social workers seeking jobs in the mental health and substance abuse sector can rejoice at the prospect of this field growing at an expected rate of 31%. On the other hand, the forecasted growth for school, family and child social worker’s is only around 20%, which is still faster than the majority of occupations.
In the world of nonprofit and not-for-profit human services organizations, development directors are a crucial member of their financial team, as they’re responsible for organizing and supervising the facility’s fundraising efforts. Whether working in the private or nonprofit sector; the employment outlook for development directors is favorable, and expected to grow around 14% until the year 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is an above-average rate compared to several other occupations.
Grant writing is quickly becoming an extremely competitive field, especially as the amount of governmental and state funding is on the decline. Now more than ever, several companies are seeking the services of highly-trained and well-educated grant writers to ensure they secure the necessary funding to continue their operations. This makes the prospects positive, but don’t count out the heavy competition you’ll face looking for full-time, year round employment in the field.
Whichever sector of the human services field you’re looking to break into, remember that your education, or lack thereof, plays a crucial role in not only your chances of securing a lucrative position, but also advancing in that company. Whenever financially prudent, seek at least a Bachelor’s or Master’s human services degree to ensure you remain competitive in this increasingly demanding field.
This guest post article was written and provided by Amanda Connely. Amanda finished her Bachelor’s in Human Services online this last fall. She is continuing her education by also pursuing a Master’s of Human Services, online.