What Can You Do With a Bachelors in Human Services?
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in human services can find a variety of general occupations in private non-profit organizations, public corporations and government agencies. Programs offer students the option to select from concentrations such as psychology, criminal justice, education and social work.
Occupations for Bachelor's Degree Holders in Human Services
Many public, academic and leadership positions exist for bachelor's degree holders in human and social services. All occupations require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though graduate degrees are required for certain public service careers. Some examples of human services professions include:
- Addiction or mental health counselor
- Family services advocate
- Child welfare specialist
- Health care assistant
- Legal mediator
- Correctional treatment specialist
- Event coordinator
- Disability specialist
- Career counselor
Human Services Bachelor's Degree Programs
Many college programs offer opportunities to experience public service jobs in addition to required coursework. Students learn skills in the classroom, such as crisis intervention, behavior management, communication and academic teaching, and put them into practice through several hours of practical mentorships. By the third year of a program, students choose a specialty to focus their studies, learning advanced subjects for their intended career. Graduates of an accredited undergraduate program are often eligible to begin an entry-level career in case work, social advocacy or welfare services.
Many companies, non-profits and government agencies require graduate studies or a master's degree for advancement or specialized positions. In addition to a graduate degree, work experience in a relevant field is also usually necessary.
Licensing and Certification Requirements
Each state requires licensure or certification to work in social and public jobs. Graduates must have several hours of supervised experience, which can be obtained before, during and after completing an academic program. Some states may also require a Master of Social Work prior to licensure, while others allow restricted licensing options for applicants with a bachelor's degree in social work or human services. Students should verify licensing requirements with their state's licensing board.
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) provides national examinations for state licensing. A basic test is administered for bachelor's degree holders, though states that require advanced degrees for licensure will not accept results from this test (www.aswb.org). All states also require continuing education to maintain an active license in human and social services.
Careers and Projections for Human Services Employees
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 14%-19% growth in all human services occupations between 2008-2018. Salaries for social workers in 2009 averaged around $43,540 for those working with children, families and schools; $41,350 for mental health social workers; $48,340 for those working in the public health field; and $50,470 for all other types of these professionals. Roughly one quarter of employees in human services professions belong to a labor union (www.bls.gov).
Dedicated job sites exist for human services employees and social workers. Each website offers features such as salary and benefit information, educational opportunities, academic funding or resume building. These sites include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website (www.hhs.gov).
Human Services Organizations
Several organizations exist across the country and in each state, providing education, networking opportunities and community events to members. Many incorporate multiple social services groups and professions, offering a wide range of information and benefits. Some of these organizations include the following:
- National Association of Social Workers, which is a merger of seven human services associations, such as the American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers, the National Association of School Social Workers and the Social Work Research Group (www.socialworkers.org)
- National Organization for Human Services, which focuses on community strengthening through education of its members (www.nationalhumanservices.org)
- American Public Human Services Association, composed of ten affiliated groups active in human services legislation on behalf of social workers (www.aphsa.org)
- National Human Services Assembly, which provides career assistance and educational events for members (www.nassembly.org)
- National Alliance for Hispanic Health, which offers human services education and resources to Hispanic communities and social workers (www.hispanichealth.org)
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