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Become A Peer Leader

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Working As A Peer Leader

  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Stressful

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Peer Leader Do

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

Duties

Social and human service assistants typically do the following:

  • Help determine what type of aid their clients need
  • Work with clients and other professionals, such as social workers, to develop a treatment plan
  • Help clients find assistance with daily activities, such as eating and bathing
  • Research services, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that are available to their clients in their communities
  • Coordinate services provided to clients
  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
  • Transport clients—for example, by driving them to appointments or to services within their community
  • Check in with clients to ensure that services are provided appropriately

Social and human service assistants have many job titles, including case work aide, clinical social work aide, family service assistant, social work assistant, addictions counselor assistant, and human service worker.

Social and human service assistants help clients to identify and obtain benefits and services. In addition to initially connecting clients with benefits or services, social and human service assistants may follow up with clients to ensure that they are receiving the intended services and that the services are meeting their needs. They work under the direction of social workers, psychologists, or other social and human service workers.

With children and families, social and human service assistants ensure that the children live in safe homes. They help parents get the resources, such as food stamps or childcare, they need to care for their children.

With the elderly, these workers help clients stay in their own homes and live under their own care whenever possible. Social and human service assistants may coordinate meal deliveries or find personal care aides to help with the clients’ day-to-day needs, such as running errands and bathing. In some cases, human service workers help look for residential care facilities, such as nursing homes.

For people with disabilities, social and human service assistants help find rehabilitation services that aid their clients. They may work with employers to make a job more accessible to people with disabilities. Some workers find personal care services to help clients with daily living activities, such as bathing and making meals.

For people with addictions, human service assistants find rehabilitation centers that meet their clients’ needs. They also may find support groups for people who are dependent on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other substances or behaviors.

With veterans, assistants help people who have been discharged from the military adjust to civilian life. They help with practical needs, such as locating housing and finding ways to apply skills gained in the military to civilian jobs. They may also help their clients navigate the overwhelming number of services available to veterans.

For people with mental illnesses, social and human service assistants help clients find the appropriate resources to help them cope with their illness. They find self-help and support groups to provide their clients with an assistance network. In addition, they may find personal care services or group housing to help those with more severe mental illnesses care for themselves.

With immigrants, workers help clients adjust to living in a new country. They help the clients locate jobs and housing. They also may help them find programs that teach English, or they may find legal assistance to help immigrants get various administrative paperwork in order.

With former prison inmates, human service assistants find job training or placement programs to help clients reenter society. Human service assistants help former inmates find housing and connect with programs that help them start a new life for themselves.

With homeless people, assistants help clients meet their basic needs. They find temporary or permanent housing for their clients and locate places, such as soup kitchens, that provide meals. Human service assistants also may help homeless people find resources to address other problems they may have, such as joblessness.

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How To Become A Peer Leader

Requirements for social and human service assistants vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers prefer to hire workers who have additional education or experience.

Education

Although a high school diploma is typically required, some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. A certificate or an associate’s degree in a subject such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or social or behavioral science is common for workers entering this occupation.

Human service degree programs train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle people who are undergoing a crisis. Many programs include fieldwork to give students hands-on experience.

The level of education that social and human service assistants have completed often determines the responsibilities they are given. Those with a high school diploma are likely to do lower level work, such as helping clients fill out paperwork. Assistants with some college education may coordinate program activities or manage a group home.

Although postsecondary education is important, some employers may prefer or allow for applicants who have related work experience. In some cases, candidates may substitute such experience in place of postsecondary education. 

Training

Many social and human service assistants, particularly those without any postsecondary education, undergo a period of on-the-job training. Because such workers often are dealing with multiple clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, on-the-job training in case management helps prepare them to respond appropriately to the different needs and situations of their clients.

Advancement

For social and human service assistants, additional education is almost always necessary for advancement. In general, advancement to case management or social work jobs requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human services, counseling, rehabilitation, social work, or a related field.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Social and human service assistants talk with clients about the challenges in their lives and assist them in getting help. These workers must be able to listen to their clients and to communicate the clients’ needs to organizations that can help them.

Compassion. Social and human service assistants often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Social and human service assistants must make their clients feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues. Assistants also need to build relationships with other service providers to become familiar with all of the resources that are available in their communities.

Organizational skills. Social and human service assistants often must complete lots of paperwork and work with many different clients. They must be organized in order to ensure that the paperwork is filed properly and that clients are getting the help they need.

Problem-solving skills. Social and human service assistants help clients find solutions to their problems. They must be able to listen carefully to their clients’ needs and offer practical solutions.

Time-management skills. Social and human service assistants often work with many clients. They must manage their time effectively to ensure that their clients are getting the attention they need.

Some employers require a criminal background check. In some settings, workers need a valid driver’s license.

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Peer Leader Demographics

Gender

Female

50.4%

Male

34.6%

Unknown

15.0%
Ethnicity

White

58.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.8%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

9.0%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.8%

French

11.4%

Chinese

4.7%

Mandarin

3.9%

Arabic

3.3%

Japanese

2.5%

Portuguese

2.2%

German

2.2%

Vietnamese

1.7%

Italian

1.4%

Hindi

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

Korean

0.8%

Russian

0.8%

Thai

0.8%

Greek

0.8%

Zulu

0.6%

Ukrainian

0.6%

Yoruba

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%
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Peer Leader Education

Schools

University of South Carolina - Columbia

9.2%

University of Texas at El Paso

8.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

7.7%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

7.2%

University of Cincinnati

6.8%

University of Massachusetts - Boston

6.0%

University of South Florida

5.4%

University of Texas at Arlington

5.1%

Georgia Southern University

5.1%

Bunker Hill Community College

4.7%

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

4.1%

Liberty University

3.8%

University of Maryland - College Park

3.5%

Brown University

3.5%

Northeastern Illinois University

3.3%

Montclair State University

3.3%

Lee University

3.3%

New York University

3.2%

Ohio State University

3.2%

Pace University - New York

3.0%
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Majors

Business

15.4%

Psychology

14.3%

Biology

8.0%

Criminal Justice

7.4%

Communication

6.2%

Political Science

4.5%

Nursing

4.0%

Marketing

3.7%

Sociology

3.6%

Kinesiology

3.3%

Social Work

3.3%

Finance

3.3%

English

3.2%

Computer Science

3.1%

Chemistry

3.1%

Mathematics

3.1%

Accounting

3.0%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Education

2.5%

History

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

62.0%

Other

16.7%

Masters

12.6%

Associate

5.1%

Certificate

1.7%

Doctorate

1.5%

Diploma

0.4%
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Top Skills for A Peer Leader

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Community Outreach
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Lead volunteer group in community outreach initiatives that serviced local rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and shelters.
  • Prepared weekly lesson plans that organized activities and provided additional practice problems for students.
  • Collaborated with Lee University faculty to create orientation classes for incoming college freshman students.
  • Meet with 20 students on a bi-weekly basis to serve as a positive role model and mentor.
  • Planned and attended field trips, special events, workshops and award ceremonies.

How Would You Rate Working As a Peer Leader?

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Top Peer Leader Employers

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