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Human Services Careers and Educational Paths

Call it compassion or call it compulsion, human beings have an innate, instinctive drive to help others. For some, this desire to serve others is rewarding and offers a sense of personal accomplishment. For others, helping others presents the challenge of solving an equation. And just like the math tutor, the goal is to help the student—or person—find a solution.

Overview of Human Services Careers

The human service field, including health and human services jobs, are looking for people who want to help others help themselves. Many people enter the human services profession wanting to “save” people. However, saving people is best left to doctors and lifeguards. A human service worker, on the other hand, can influence his or her client. They can provide education, counseling, personal support, community resources, and other services to strengthen his client’s self-esteem, confidence, coping strategies and ability to engage in healthy decision-making. Human services careers also needs people who will be champions for social change—people who are willing stand up for the neglected, forgotten, abused, and exploited members of their communities. Noble ambitions require the help of noble people.

Human Services Job Requirements

Before teaching others how to communicate more effectively, one must first learn and develop those skills themselves. Many students enter the human service field because they have overcome personal obstacles and wish to share their success and wisdom with others. While some may argue that there is no substitute for experience, there is also no substitute for learned knowledge. Medical doctors are not allowed to practice medicine by virtue of having once performed CPR; they are granted this privilege after spending many years studying medicine and being able to demonstrate competency and proficiency in their discipline.

In-field Experience in Human Services

Human services education also requires students to demonstrate academic and practical competency before entering the field. Students must learn psychology, sociology, communications, human relations, welfare policy, English, and basic writing skills. In addition, students must also demonstrate self mastery and learn to maintain personal boundaries, set aside personal beliefs and respect a client’s rights.

Growth in the Human Services Careers

Social work and human service fields are professions are expected to grow and expand, with an increase in demand for qualified workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 Edition, “Employment of social workers is expected to increase by 16% during the 2008-18 decade… faster than the occupational growth average occupations.” Salaries for Human Service workers start around $30,000 and rise upward, depending on levels of education, licensing, professional advancement and number of years working in the field.

Educational Opportunities in Human Services

People seeking an education in the human service field can find relevant Associate’s degree programs in human services to aid in the professional grown. For example, Rasmussen College offers a regionally accredited human services degree online or on campus prepares students to enter the helping professions by giving them foundational knowledge coupled with practical experience. The program encourages students to pursue their career goals, helping them fully realize their personal and professional potential. The campus instructors are experts in their respective fields and they love to teach—they want their students to succeed.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Social and Human Service Assistants, on the Internet at (visited November 10, 2010).

Ian Provo

Ian Provo MSW, LCSW is an adjunct professor for Rasmussen College at the Rockford, IL college campus. In this role, he assists students seeking a criminal justice college degree through the School of Justice Studies.

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