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Functions of a Human Services Manager

by Jon Gjerde

Human services managers, also called social and community service managers, develop, guide and monitor social and community programs. As a human services manager, you might work for hospitals, drug, alcohol or mental health treatment centers, nursing homes, homeless shelters, nonprofit organizations or government agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment for social and community service managers will grow at a rate nearly double the average of all jobs between 2010 and 2020.

Program Development and Management

Human services managers are responsible for identifying the unmet needs of at-risk populations and developing programs that meet those needs. In a human services management career, you will accomplish this task through a combination of research and community outreach. You may hold community meetings to discuss social problems and potential solutions or analyze statistics relevant to the community you serve. You then determine the objectives, services or benefits and eligibility requirements of the proposed program. Once you, other managers and staff implement a program, you are responsible for maintaining statistical information to verify the effectiveness of that program and for making adjustments to improve effectiveness.

Administration and Fund-raising

If you work for a large organization, your duties may be limited to research, analysis and policy development for one specific program, but human services managers in smaller organizations often wear many hats. In these organizations, you may perform administrative duties such as developing budgets and submitting reports to government agencies or donors on the impact of social and community programs. You also may be responsible for locating funding for these programs. To accomplish this, you may hold fund-raising events or meet with potential donors to discuss your organization's values, past performance and projections related to the impact of proposed programs.

Staff Management

Human services managers may spend some of their time staffing and supervising personnel for their organization or specific programs. In this capacity, you may be responsible for recruiting and overseeing direct-service and clinical social workers, residential or eligibility counselors, caseworkers, volunteers or other human services professionals. After recruiting workers, you will provide training, which may include explaining or demonstrating program goals, procedures and specific responsibilities and developing training manuals. You must evaluate the work of your employees or volunteers to determine their impact on clients' lives and the effectiveness of programs.

Required Education and Experience

You need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for human services management positions, though many organizations prefer candidates with a master's degree. Relevant majors for these positions include social work, public administration, urban studies or public health. Additional courses in statistics and public policy help you prepare for the research and analysis duties required of human services managers. Related work experience is necessary for many positions, especially if you do not have a master's degree. Most human services managers gain experience in social work or related occupations before entering management positions. While gaining this experience, focus on demonstrating leadership abilities to improve your prospects of finding a management position.

About the Author

Jon Gjerde worked as a journalist in northern California where he covered topics ranging from city, county and tribal governments to alternative transportation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Davis.

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