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Human Service Worker Job Description, Career as a Human Service Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Varies – see below

Average Salary Varies – see below

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

Human services is a broad field that seeks to meet the needs of humans through the use of therapies, disciplines, remedies to problems and other techniques that are designed to improve their overall quality of life. Human service workers often work in retirement homes, halfway houses, alcoholism and drug abuse rehab centers, and any other establishment that caters to elderly, mentally ill or recovering patients. Workers are trained to work with patients by coordinating group projects or speaking with them individually to determine what they need to live happily and function in the best way possible.

Education and Training Requirements

Human service workers can hold degrees in a variety of different fields. Almost all of them have a Bachelor’s degree in a field related to human services such as psychology, social work, substance abuse counseling, or sociology. Human service workers can train for their career in a variety of environments. Many start out working in a hospital or residential care facility as an assistant or intern in order to gain experience working with elderly or mentally ill patients.

Most human service workers will decide which type of human service work they want to specialize in, and will concentrate their educational studies on that. Those who want to work with recovering alcoholics or drug abuse patients in a rehab center will take courses on dealing with substance abuse patients.

Depending on the level of services being provided to patients, human service workers may be required to further their education. Workers who want to work as a psychiatrist or distribute medication to patients must be licensed to do so. The field of human services is extremely broad, so specific careers will often require different licenses or certifications in order to be practiced.

Getting the Job

The most important quality a human service must possess is a desire to help people improve their quality of life. Human service workers need a strong sense of compassion and patience in order to effectively communicate with patients and provide them with the care they need in order to succeed.

Human service workers must also be able to coordinate activities with patients that will give them a sense of community and belonging with a group of individuals they can relate to. Human service workers who work in an elderly group home will coordinate evening activities with patients including movie or dance nights as well as field trips to the zoo or aquarium during the day. Taking patients out and making them feel as if they are part of a group.
Human service workers who work with mentally ill or recovering substance abuse patients will need to have a broad understanding about how to deal with different mental illnesses and how to help substance abuse patients who are suffering withdrawals or are mentally unstable.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Many human service workers advance their careers to become clinical psychiatrists or nurses who care for patients on a more medical level. Once they spend a significant amount of time working with them on a personal level, workers will further their education so they can prescribe medications or analyze patient’s behavior.

Employment outlook for human services is expected to grow as care for elderly patients in group homes and facilities is expected to be in high demand. Adult day care is also on the rise as the baby boomer generation gets older and is looking for assistance with day to day activities.

Facilities that care for mentally ill patients or substance abuse patients are expected to also be in need for workers who can coordinate community programs with patients and help to improve their social interactions and quality of life. The more human service workers that can work on a personal basis with patients, the better they are expected to recover.

Human services is a broad range of careers, so once someone has experience in the field there are many opportunities for them to move around with their career. Human service workers work in professions including counselors, group therapy aides, alcohol counselors, group home worker, community organizers, probation officers, child abuse workers, psychological aides, and social service workers.

Working Conditions and Environment

Human service workers spend most of their work day with patients. They are rarely working alone in an office unless they have to fill out paperwork or progress reports regarding patient’s activity. Human service workers must be comfortable working with elderly and/or mentally ill patients as well as patients who are recovering alcoholics or drug users. The environment in these facilities can often become highly stressful and patients may become hard to deal with, so human service workers must be able to effectively and patiently keep patients happy and under control.

Human service workers usually work with patients during specific hours of the day, and may occasionally work evenings or weekends if they have certain programs or activities scheduled. Most workers come in during the day to work with patients.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a human service worker varies greatly according to the type of work they perform. Substance abuse counselors make an average of $43,000 per year, while social workers can make around $62,000 per year. Those who advance to supervisory positions to resident care facilities or counseling programs can make up to $90,000 per year. Due to the broad range of careers involved in human service work, there is plenty of room for advancement and an increased salary.

Full time human service workers often receive health insurance benefits and vacation and sick leave allowances from their employers. Some workers deal with unruly patients or work in a high-stress environment, so they are given excellent compensation for their hard work in return.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street NE, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20002

American Public Human Services Association
1133 19th Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 682-0100

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine