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Become A Support Worker

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Working As A Support Worker

  • 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

  • $48,317

    Average Salary

What Does A Support Worker 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 Support Worker

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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Support Worker Jobs

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Support Worker Career Paths

Support Worker
Social Worker Program Manager General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Program Supervisor Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Ship Worker Case Manager Special Education Teacher
Assistant Principal
10 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Home Health Aid Residential Counselor
Assistant Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Manager Office Manager
Business Office Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Recruiter Career Counselor
Career Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Licensed Practical Nurse Staff Nurse
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Ship Worker Home Health Aid Case Manager
Clinical Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Home Health Aid Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Family Counselor Case Manager
Housing Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Specialist Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Counselor
Mental Health Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Personal Care Assistant Specialist Therapist
Mental Health Consultant
7 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Assistant Director Director Of Food And Beverage
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Personal Care Assistant Security Officer Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Family Support Worker Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Family Support Worker Social Worker Program Director
Service Director
10 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Medical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Support Worker?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Service Worker 2.5 years
Residential Worker 2.1 years
Support Staff 2.0 years
Support Worker 2.0 years
Youth Worker 1.7 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 10.6%
Internship 10.2%
Volunteer 5.7%
Teacher 3.4%
Supervisor 3.1%
Teller 2.8%
Assistant 2.8%
Top Employers After
Case Manager 10.6%
Internship 7.0%
Volunteer 4.9%
Cashier 4.8%
Counselor 4.1%
Assistant 3.6%
Therapist 3.1%
Manager 3.0%

Do you work as a Support Worker?

Support Worker Demographics

Gender

Female

71.5%

Male

26.5%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

64.2%

Hispanic or Latino

12.4%

Black or African American

12.2%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

58.0%

French

11.4%

Portuguese

4.5%

Italian

3.4%

Armenian

2.3%

Thai

2.3%

Cantonese

2.3%

Chinese

2.3%

Swahili

1.1%

Swedish

1.1%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Hindi

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Indonesian

1.1%

Romani

1.1%

Norwegian

1.1%

Russian

1.1%

Greek

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%
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Support Worker Education

Schools

Troy University

13.5%

University of Phoenix

10.2%

Capella University

6.9%

University of Alabama

6.2%

Alabama State University

5.1%

University of South Alabama

5.1%

Liberty University

5.1%

University of Southern Maine

4.7%

Ashford University

4.7%

Youngstown State University

4.7%

Essex County College

4.4%

Bristol Community College

3.6%

Springfield College

3.6%

University of Kentucky

3.3%

University of Maine at Augusta

3.3%

Saint Joseph's University

3.3%

Georgia Southern University

3.3%

Kaplan University

3.3%

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

2.9%

University of Maine

2.9%
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Majors

Psychology

16.3%

Business

13.7%

Social Work

13.3%

Criminal Justice

7.2%

Human Services

7.2%

Nursing

5.6%

Sociology

4.4%

Mental Health Counseling

3.6%

School Counseling

3.4%

Medical Assisting Services

3.3%

Health Care Administration

3.1%

Education

3.0%

Information Technology

2.2%

Accounting

2.2%

General Studies

2.0%

English

2.0%

Communication

1.9%

Counseling Psychology

1.9%

Liberal Arts

1.8%

Human Resources Management

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.5%

Other

22.1%

Masters

20.6%

Associate

10.8%

Certificate

4.1%

Diploma

3.8%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.4%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Support Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Legal Support Worker Stec, Inc. Santa Ana, CA Jun 03, 2009 $180,000
Legal Support Worker Bingham McCutchen LLP Washington, DC Sep 01, 2013 $160,000
Legal Support Workers, All Other Fish & Richardson P.C. Boston, MA Sep 22, 2008 $100,000
Legal Support Workers, All Other Latham & Watkins LLP Los Angeles, CA Apr 13, 2009 $85,010
Legal Support Workers Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser PC Garden City, NY Sep 20, 2010 $80,000
Legal Support Workers, All Other Lahive & Cockfield LLP Boston, MA Jan 14, 2009 $80,000
Legal Support Worker, All Other Knobbe, Martens, Olson and Bear, LLP Irvine, CA Nov 05, 2008 $79,082
Legal Support Workers, All Other Law Offices of Vicken H. Hagopian, Inc. CA Nov 22, 2013 $72,800
Legal Support Worker Dacheng Law Offices, LLP New York, NY Sep 01, 2015 $72,210
Legal Support Worker Global Patent Solutions, LLC Scottsdale, AZ Apr 16, 2015 $72,000
Office and Administrative Support Workers, All Other* Semyung USA, Inc. Troy, MI Dec 17, 2013 $71,136
Legal Support Workers, All Other Dolby Laboratories, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 24, 2010 $69,364
Supervisor of Office & Administrative Support Workers Jr Trading Monmouth Junction, NJ Oct 25, 2007 $52,467
Legal Support Worker, All Others Law Offices of Guang Jun Gao, LLP. NY Aug 31, 2014 $52,175
Managers of Office and Administrative Support Workers The Law Office of Lee & Associates, PC Duluth, GA Dec 19, 2008 $51,600
Manager of Office Support Workers Trimax Financial Services, Inc. Conyers, GA Jul 16, 2010 $51,480
Legal Support Workers, All Other University of Ks Medical Center Research Institute Kansas City, KS Jun 02, 2011 $50,731 -
$72,000
Firstline Supervisors/Managers of Office and Administrative Support Workers Pavillion Agency Inc. New York, NY Nov 02, 2010 $49,065
Legal Support Worker Yerman & JIA LLC New York, NY Sep 21, 2016 $48,001
Legal Support Worker Dacheng Law Offices LLP New York, NY Jan 16, 2011 $48,000
Legal Support Worker Marcella USA Ltd. New York, NY Oct 01, 2014 $37,500
Legal Support Worker Dai & Associates, P.C. New York, NY Aug 26, 2015 $36,816
Legal Support Workers Guanghua Law Group Ellicott City, MD Aug 30, 2016 $36,610
Legal Support Workers, All Other(Law Clerk) Johnson Law Firm Orem, UT Oct 01, 2011 $36,000
Office & Administrative Support Worker Eugene Bell Foundation MD Jul 01, 2015 $36,000
Legal Support Worker Littleton Joyce Ughetta Park & Kelly LLP New York, NY Nov 03, 2011 $35,818
Office and Administrative Support Worker Ticket Busters Inc. NY Sep 20, 2009 $35,062

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Top Skills for A Support Worker

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  1. Independent Living
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Food Assistance
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Create and implement adult daily living activities for developmentally disabled adults in Community Independent living arrangement.
  • Support worker to kids with mental and behavioral issues.
  • Accept applications and complete interviews for food assistance after natural disasters.
  • Interview potential and current clients for child support services.
  • Maintain a safe environment for the service recipient; prevent harm to service recipient, self, and others.

How Would You Rate Working As a Support Worker?

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Top Support Worker Employers

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