Human service worker is a term that encompasses a variety of occupations in different work settings, according to the National Organization for Human Services. Typical job titles include case worker, youth worker, life skills instructor, social service aide, child advocate, community organizer, community outreach worker and residential manager. Despite these differences, all human service workers have some common responsibilities and other similarities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the key function of social and human service assistants is to help other people. They help people find additional support, benefits or community services. Social and human services workers provide emotional support and counseling when people have difficulties. They support professionals in the field such as social workers. Duties vary according to the role. Social and human services workers might ensure children live in safe homes, coordinate meal deliveries to seniors, find rehabilitation services for disabled people or people with addictions.
A high school diploma is typically required for social and human services workers, according to the BLS, and some positions may require some college education, certification or both. If more education is necessary, it might be an associate degree in human services, gerontology, a social or behavioral science. Some jobs might require even more education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A degree in human services typically includes training in how to observe and interview clients or patients, how to follow or carry out treatment plans and what to do in crisis situations. Fieldwork is another typical component of such programs to ensure the student obtains hands-on experience.
In addition, most social and human services workers receive job-specific training. The actual role the worker will fulfill affects training -- those who have less education are more likely to receive additional on-job training. A case worker, for example, might receive training in applicable laws or regulations, organizational paperwork, referral sources or other service agencies and how to handle clients in crisis. A group home manager would need training specific to regulatory requirements, health care issues and the organization’s policies.
The average annual salary for social and human services workers in 2012 was $30,880, according to the BLS. Salaries vary according to work setting and location, however. Most social and human services workers were employed in the individual and family services sector in 2012, where they earned $29,820. Those who worked in residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities made $25, 950. State governments paid $36,840 and the federal executive branch paid $43,670. Alaska was the top-paying state at $37,970, although wages in the District of Columbia were higher at $47,700.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social and Human Service Assistants
- National Organization for Human Services: What is Human Services?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Helping Those in Need - Human Service Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012 21-1093 Social and Human Service Assistants
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