Social and Human Service Assistants
Degrees and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||351,400|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.3%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||18,910|
What's needed: While it is possible to secure a position as a human services assistant with only a high school diploma, many state and federal agencies now prefer to hire job candidates who have two-year degrees in human services, social sciences, psychology or gerontology. Completing a four-year degree in human services will help to ensure that you will have excellent advancement opportunities. All human services assistants also receive extensive on-the-job training.
What you study:
When preparing for a career as a human services assistant, you will study all of the following:
- Social Problems
- Social Psychology
- Human Behavior
- Human Services Ethics
- Public Health
Shows a quick overview of what human services assistants do in their work. Produced for the US Department of Labor.
A Day in the Life
If you work in a state or federal social services program, you may be responsible for determining whether or not your clients qualify for food stamps or Medicaid. You'll assist your clients as they fill out paperwork to apply for these programs. You will also help them understand the types of assistance they will receive and will check in with your clients on a regular basis to ensure that they are getting the help and support that they need. Most of your days will end with a staff meeting to review the day's cases and talk about any client issues that may have come up during your appointments. You will be supported in your work by licensed social workers.
Certifications and Licensing
Human services assistants do not need to hold a special license or credential in order to work in this field. However, you must pass a background check in order to be employed by most facilities. If you wish to advance into a position as a social worker, you will need to be licensed at the state level.
Full-time versus part-time:
Most human services assistants work full-time schedules. If you want to work a part-time schedule, you may be interested in a position as an on-call assistant. These individuals are responsible for answering emergency client calls, meeting clients who have just been taken to the hospital and filling in for full-time assistants when they are ill or on vacation.
If you work as a human services assistant in a rural area, you may be required to travel in order to meet your clients. You may also travel to meet your clients if they reside in assisted living facilities and are unable to come to your office.
Here are several websites that we recommend for researching careers as human services assistants:
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: This handbook provides general information about human service assistant positions in the U.S. Salary ranges, employment outlooks and general training information are included. However, it's important to consult other sources that offer a more holistic view of careers in this field.
- The National Organization for Human Services: The NOHS website provides information about human services ethics and education in this field. The site also includes a job board with a wealth of listings suitable for newcomers to this profession.
- The American Public Human Services Association: The APHSA provides information about state and federal human services programs and new research in this field. A wealth of information about human services careers is presented on this site, making it ideal for students who are interested in finding out about what working in this field is like.