Human services is a helping profession that gives workers both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Many people enter the field because it feels right and they love working with disadvantaged populations and people in trouble. The intrinsic rewards come in the form of satisfaction that workers get after a job well done. Extrinsically, human service workers earn praise from their communities as well as stable jobs that often provide sufficient financial benefits.
You won’t get rich working in human services. Most of the jobs are in government agencies, community programs and nonprofit organizations. Once you land a position, however, the pay tends to stay consistent, allowing workers to develop and stick to a set personal budget. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2010, wages in the human services sector ranged from a high median annual wage of $56,080 for clinical psychologists to a low of $26,550 for social service assistants. Most of the salary ranges in human services were in the mid-$30,000 range.
Many occupations in the human services field require advanced training, postsecondary degrees and licensing. An employee’s stature in the community and in the agency increases with more advanced degrees and certification. Workers can still enjoy helping people and maintain the professional letters earned with a doctorate in counseling or a master’s degree in social work. Every level of human service work can apply for professional certification through the National Organization for Human Services.
Local community organizations, state and regional foundations, and professional associations recognize outstanding work in the field of human services with money and honors. Awards range from of a plaque and prestigious recognition dinner to thousands of dollars. Awards are given in the form of scholarships for continuing education or as grants for human service research projects. Recipients of human service awards are often nominated by their peers for outstanding work or apply for the awards.
While many clients won’t extend their gratitude to human service workers, many will. Social workers and human service employees often fill their office walls with thank-you cards and letters of appreciation from clients they’ve helped. March is Social Work Month, when many agencies and organizations honor the human service professionals who give tirelessly day after day to make their communities better places to live. Partner agencies appreciate the references, understanding and community involvement from human service workers. Adoptive parents might send pictures of their children on a regular basis, while a high school dropout may send a copy of her diploma to the human services worker who helped her get back in school.
- Education.com: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Helping Those in Need: Human Services Workers
- National Organization for Human Services: Certification
- National Organization for Human Services: Awards, Scholarships and Grants
- McKnight Foundation: Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service
- Homewatch CareGivers: Expressing our Gratitude for Social Workers
- National Association of Social Workers: Social Work Month History
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