Human Services Salary: A Closer Look at Compensation for 4 Common Careers
You’ve always known you want to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable and at-risk populations. Maybe you’ve seen or experienced firsthand the tangible difference that those in a human or social services position can make. Whether it’s seeing a family receive help getting back on stable ground after a rocky financial patch or an elderly family friend finally being connected with much-needed support services, you know this field can be the source of several rewarding personal experiences. No matter where your interest springs from, it’s clear you’re passionate about working in the human services field.
Money likely isn’t your main motivation—no one really takes on one of these roles with dreams of being rich. But you’re still curious about how much you can expect to earn in a human services career and whether you’ll be able to make a decent living while helping others. To help answer that, we’ve rounded up useful human services career information.
A broad view of human services salaries and job outlook expectations
Before we get into the specifics of particular human services careers, let’s take a look at the salary information available for the broader community and social service field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2018, workers in this field as a whole earned a median annual wage of $44,960—which is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations, $38,460.1
Even better, the number of jobs in the industry is projected to grow 14 percent from 2016-2026, which is also higher than the average for all occupations.1 As you can see, the overall field appears to have some solid future prospects—but how does that shake out for individual roles? Let’s take a closer look at four common human services careers.
1. Family support worker
Family support workers, sometimes called human or social services assistants, are key players for families in need. These professionals work with other human services professionals like social workers and others who help develop a care or treatment plan for their client families to help coordinate services that will benefit them—like food stamps, Medicaid and any other medical treatments they may need. This may include researching options, filling out paperwork, coordinating logistics and checking in with their clients to see how the services are helping.
- 2018 Median annual salary: $33,7502
- Job outlook: Employment of family support workers is projected to grow 16 percent between 2016-2026.2
- Education needed: Although a high school diploma is generally required, the BLS reports some employers would rather hire family support worker applicants with relevant work experience or a degree or certificate in a subject like human services, gerontology or social science.1
Though you’ll likely be able to find jobs for both high school graduates and more advanced degree-holders, you may find a discrepancy in the job duties for each education level. Those with less education are usually responsible for more administrative tasks like helping clients fill out paperwork. Those with college education may be in charge of coordinating activities or managing a group home. The duties that pique your interest may help you decide you which educational path is right for you.
2. Community health outreach specialist
Community health outreach specialists focus their work on the medical side of human services by helping clients with general health issues, including diet, exercise and getting access to basic medical care and information. They keep records of the client’s health and deal with related paperwork. Clients may include individuals from minority populations, low-income populations or pregnant women.
- 2018 Median annual salary: $39,4502
- Job outlook: Employment of community health outreach specialists is projected to grow 15 percent between 2016-2026.2
- Education needed: Community health workers must be high school graduates at a minimum, though some employers may prefer some college work like a certificate or associate’s that covers health and wellness, ethics, cultural awareness or the social sciences.
3. Health educator
Although, at first look, a health educator’s responsibilities may seem very similar to community health workers, there are distinct differences. Instead of dealing with individual cases and clients, health educators tend to address organizations and groups by distributing health education materials that cover topics like smoking, vaccines and other public matters. By working with agencies and public health organizations, they present and conduct education programs and presentations for schools, workplaces or community gathering places.
- 2018 Median annual salary: $54,2201
- Job outlook: Employment of health educators is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016-2026.2
- Education needed: The BLS reports health educators must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in health education or a closely related subject to learn theories of health behavior and education.1 Some employers may prefer health educators to complete a master’s or doctoral degree in public health or health education, as well.
4. Social service manager
Social services managers are in charge of high-level tasks that revolve around the oversight and overall operations of a social service provider. They listen to community members to identify needed services, work to secure grants and funding, spread awareness of their work, oversee the administrative matters and implement any changes to the programs.
- 2018 Median annual salary: $65,3201
- Job outlook: Employment of social services managers is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016-2026.1
- Education needed: Since this is a management position, the BLS reports most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in social work, public or business administration, public health or a similar field.1 Positions that call for greater responsibility may require more specified social or health knowledge requiring a master’s degree.
Find your ideal human services career
Did any of those occupations sound intriguing to you? Now that you know what to expect salary-wise, chances are you feel a little more confident pursuing one of these careers. If you’re interested in pursuing a Human Services degree, you’ll want to get a feel for what you’ll be learning.
For a better understanding of what to expect, check out our article “ 6 Courses You’ll Encounter While Earning Your Online Human Services Degree.”
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed August, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/.
2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed August, 2019] www.bls.gov/oes/.
Employment information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.