So you've graduated from college with your degree in Human Services -- congratulations! You should be applauded for choosing to focus on the most basic needs of our communities.
It's a rare breed that is willing to spend its life focusing on the health and well being of individuals and families, assisting with social services as needed, helping with preventing and solving problems and striving to provide the highest quality of life possible.
And now it's over: the hours and hours of studying, the long shifts in the field and -- let's face it -- wondering why you ever decided a career serving others in Human Services was a good idea in the first place.
Well, you've just finished the easy part.
Just kidding. Sort of.
Now it's time to do the work to get the job. Human Services s not just a career; it is a choice to dedicate your life to the well-being and advancement of others in your community -- but to do that you have to find the right position.
And this is where we come in. We literally created a career map for Human Services majors such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.
Feel free to focus on the map alone -- it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation in your job search, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:
- What skills you'll need
- How to begin
- What jobs you can expect to find
- Some quick tips for the job search
- Options for furthering your education
- External resources
First thing's first: the skills you've got and the skills you'll need to get started.
1. Skills and Abilities for Human Services Majors
While the education gained in the classroom is without a doubt beneficial, you've chosen a degree that relies more on the type of skills you learn in the field.
Beyond personal development and simply learning how to learn, employers will want to see that you have the ability to reflect, realize, and grow based off of your client-based experience.
We've got this list of common skills for Human Services Majors, with examples from experienced resumes and general skills.
Common skills on Human Services resumes
These are some of the most common skills listed on Human Services resumes -- if you want to make a solid impression on recruiters or see what the competition is listing, here you go:
- Bio-Psychosocial Assessments
- Crisis Intervention Services
- Discharge Planning
As for how to make those work for your resume, here are some examples of how other Human Services professionals have used the most in demand skills on their resumes:
- Completed initial intakes and bio-psychosocial assessments
- Provide crisis intervention services, complete classroom observation
- Facilitate appropriate discharge planning and timely transition of training center individuals into community living homes, or skilled nursing facility
- Coordinated services to be utilized upon patient discharge, including COPS referrals for mental health services
- Certified as an expert witness for Child Abuse/Neglect cases in court
Soft Skills and Abilities
Applying these abilities to real world learning opportunities yields a more robust and balanced career, no matter your GPA and alma mater. Here are some of the common abilities and characteristics that you should focus on and talk up when you shoot for that dream job.
Communication and interpersonal skills. Being able to work with and talk to different groups of people is essential for your calling as a Human Services professionals.Clients will talk to you about challenges in their lives. To effectively help, you must be able to listen to and understand your clients' needs to foster healthy and productive relationships.
Empathy. You'll often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations -- and typically overseeing an office full of human services and social workers who are the same. To develop strong relationships, you need to have compassion and empathy for your clients and coworkers.
Organizational and time-management skills. You'll be responsible for helping social workers and managing multiple clients and programs, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment -- and to develop practical and innovative solutions to your clients' problems by effectively managing your time to provide adequate service to all clients in your program..
2. How to get Started on Your Career in Human Services
Human Services covers every section of the population, and with you many potential fields available you should take any and all opportunities to volunteer and shadow.
Do you want to work in a hospital? A nursing home? Did you hear about an open position with a local rehabilitation clinic? Do you want to work as a school Human Services professionals, a prison Human Services professionals, or as a hospice Human Services professionals?
Have you even decided which part of the country is the best for your employment chances?
That list can go on for a while, and it's a tough question to answer -- but here are a couple of ideas for narrowing it down.
Make the most out of your practicum
Your practicum is more or less a very long, very in-depth internship -- or educationally-mandated community service. Use it to try on different roles and explore your talents -- it gives you the opportunity to engage in direct Human Services practice experiences with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
At your field placement, you will be learning what it means to be a Human Services professionals, especially if working in a multi-disciplinary environment. What roles do Human Services professionals play on treatment teams, in community meetings, in a residential setting?
Remember to identify yourself as the Human Services intern, not just the intern, and try to view this is an extended networking and mentor event.
Test out engagement techniques, get instructor feedback, and develop a potential work reference.
If you can't get the dream job, go per diem
Consider taking per diem or temp Human Services positions. You obviously need to learn from everyone you encounter -- from co-workers to clients -- but you should treat your experience like a several hundred hour long interview.
These opportunities can lead to permanent placement or, at the very least, an extension of your professional network. Your supervisors and the staff will notice your talents and perseverance -- They might ask you to come back as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
If you can't get any paid positions, go volunteer
Volunteering might not be a financially viable option for you -- but if you find an organization or field you are set on working in then use it to make contacts and learn what it takes to get an edge.
Your dedication despite the lack of pay will show these contacts you're serious, and volunteering is an appropriate addition to any Human Services resume.
The experience also may help you home in on what specialties and settings interest you. And with all of the field options available, the opportunity to learn what it is that you don't want to do in your career is invaluable.
3. The Different Types of Human Services Jobs
Human Services professionals help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
You might work on an individual basis with children, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses and addictions. Or, you could be on the macro level helping communities, non-profit organizations, and policymakers to improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions.
Regardless, you'll advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of your clients and the Human Services profession on local, state, and national levels.
With our career map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.)
But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common types of jobs for recent Human Services grads.
Just like you.
Mental health and substance abuse Human Services professionals
Help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness. Many clinical Human Services professionals function in these roles as well.
School Human Services professionals
Work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students' academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to Human Services professionals to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.
Child and family Human Services professionals
Protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help families find housing or services, such as childcare, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to reunite families.
Healthcare Human Services professionals
Help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities.
In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Human Services professionals help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients' mental and emotional health.
More on Human Services jobs and how they're different from social worker positions
Human services professional is a generic term for people who hold professional and paraprofessional jobs in such diverse settings as group homes and halfway houses -- correctional, intellectual disability, and community mental health centers; family and youth service agencies, and programs concerned with addiction, family violence, and aging.
As a Human Services professional you'll be working more on the strategic and overarching goals side of things and less in the field.
Depending on the employment setting and the kinds of clients served there, job titles and duties vary a great deal. To decide which career path in social services is best for you, you should consider how you want to actually spend your day accomplishing the mission and which tasks would be the most interesting and rewarding to you personally.
Each career provides a different and unique way to serve vulnerable populations.
4. Some Quick Job Tips for Human Services Majors
Many employers who hire in the summer begin interviewing in the spring. People graduate at the same time, so get started on the licensing procedures and application process to give yourself an edge.
Use your social network
Your fellow students, LinkedIn, and school's departmental programs are always your best friend. See if they know anyone in the field or any organizations that are hiring. If you interned or did clinical follows as part of your program, even if they don't have a job for you they have the ability to point you in the right direction.
Contact Human Services and community service nonprofits
Find groups in your area that specialize in your desired field and volunteer -- it will help you make contacts and help fill up any time gaps on your resume.
Consider your long-term goals. You may be in a position where you have to take whatever comes available -- but if you have the option, take a job that aligns with your overall career plan.
Get a job in a hospital in some capacity if your plan is to wind up in public health, eventually completing your MHS.
All work experience will help you in some way, but the point is, you don't have to accept the first offer you get. Aim for the jobs that will provide the best stepping stones for your intended career path.
5. Advanced Education and Licensure for Human Services professionals
While most states have licensure or certification requirements for non-clinical social work professionals and all states require clinical social workers to be licensed, human services certifications are less common. However, the NOHS has created the .
It's not absolutely mandatory, but it can increase your marketability and salary. To be eligible to apply for the HS-BCP national credential, a degree must have been earned at a regionally accredited college/ university or a state-approved community/ junior college at the associate's level or above. Applicants must also have completed the required post-degree experience.
Although most Human Services professionals need a bachelor's degree in Human Services, clinical Human Services professionals must have a master's degree and two years of post-master's experience in a supervised clinical setting.
A bachelor's degree in Human Services is not required in order to enter a master's degree program in Human Services.
Some positions require a master's degree in Human Services (MHS), which generally takes two years to complete. Master's degree programs in Human Services prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills.
All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.
Although a degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor's degree in Human Services to earn their master's degree in one year.
Some universities offer doctoral programs in Human Services, where students can earn a Doctorate of Human Services (DHS) or a Ph.D. Most doctoral programs in Human Services require students to have a master's in Human Services and experience in the field.
Most PhD students go on to work as postsecondary teachers or work in policy.
6. External Resources for Human Services Majors
If you're still not sure what to do with your degree or could use some help making yourself even more competitive, here are some external sites to help you with your decision:
Human Services Research Institute
The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation founded in 1976 and based in Cambridge, MA. Through research, policy and demonstration activities, HSRI assists communities and government to build supports that are responsive to the aspirations and preferences of people who rely on human services to lead self-directed lives.
National Organization for Human Services
The NOHS is a professional organization dedicated to expanding professional development opportunities and enhancing internal and external communications -- it serves as a good network for expanding your understanding of the field.
Enter "Human Services" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to Human Services majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.
Bureau of Labor Statistics
The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country. In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.
And if this all seems like a lot - don't worry - the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.