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What Careers Can You Pursue with a Human Services Degree?

You’ve worked hard to earn your human service degree. Now it’s time to explore the many career options it opens up for you, their requirements, and how much they pay.

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Are you motivated by a desire to help others? Do you see people in need and wish you could do something to improve their situation? If so, you’ll be glad to know that finding a career that taps into these sentiments is not only possible but within reach for graduates — or soon-to-be graduates — of human services degree programs like you.

There will always be people in need, and you can be one of the few who rises to the challenge of addressing that need on an individual and community level. Below we’ll delve into the responsibilities of 10 careers that you can qualify for with a human services degree. We’ll discuss what they entail, how to pursue them, and what you can expect to make per year. We’ll then discuss ways to advance or transition into your dream career before answering any lingering questions you may have. Read on to learn more about the professional opportunities that await you.

10 Careers You Can Pursue with a Human Services Degree Today

One of the benefits of earning a human services degree is the many career options it qualifies you to pursue, meaning you’re likely to find something that fits your specific interests, aspirations, and salary expectations. To give you a clearer idea of what’s available, we’ve summarized 10 of the most popular positions among graduates, as well as their academic requirements, salary, and responsibilities.

Child Advocate

A child advocate is an attorney or social worker trained to intervene on behalf of children in difficult family situations, often those that involve abuse or neglect. In addition to speaking with the child, their family members, teachers, and doctors, advocates may provide counseling, recommend substance abuse programs to caretakers, or help find foster placements. The advocate’s goal is to ensure the safety and well-being of the child in care, reduce potential transitions, and facilitate their placement in a stable living situation where they can thrive.

Requirements: To become a child advocate, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in human services, social work, psychology, law, or another relevant field. Some states also require a master’s degree in social work and supervised clinical hours. Volunteering with an advocacy group or after-school program can help you gain the experience and skills you need to be successful in this career.

Average National Salary: $45,248

Community Health Worker

A community health worker (CHW) works closely with certain populations to promote health policies and initiatives. They serve as intermediaries between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to care. CHWs also promote health knowledge and self-sufficiency through outreach, culturally appropriate health education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy. They may occasionally provide direct services including first aid and blood pressure screening.

Requirements: The minimum requirements to become a community health worker include a high school diploma, though some employers prefer to hire those who have at least some postsecondary education. Competency typically comes through a brief period of on-the-job training; some states also require certification.

Average Salary: $49,900

Counselor

A counselor’s primary goal is to help people care for their mental health by developing coping strategies for and solutions to the problems and challenges they may be facing. They do this by getting to know clients, building safe, positive relationships, and suggesting evidence-based tools and techniques that will benefit clients.

Requirements: Academic and professional requirements for counselors differ according to their specialty (substance abuse, school, grief and loss, rehabilitation, career search, etc.), but most include a master’s degree and an internship as well as additional training for specialized concentrations. Certification requirements also differ by state.

Average Salary: $39,990$60,140

Crisis Intervention Specialist

A crisis intervention specialist is a type of counselor whose primary role is to help patients cope with traumatic events, including natural disasters, domestic violence, abuse, or the sudden loss of a loved one. Primary responsibilities include providing critical resources and support; coordinating legal intervention, outreach, referrals, and services; assessing and recording clients’ behavior; and making decisions in clients’ best interests. These professionals may work in a variety of settings, including mental health service facilities, schools, refugee camps, rape crisis centers, and veterans’ organizations.

Requirements: A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for a job in crisis intervention, though a master’s degree is required to facilitate one-on-one counseling. Even if you don’t go into counseling, you’ll likely find greater professional and financial success with a master’s degree in social work, psychology, or another mental health-related field. These programs require students to complete a certain of field work, which provides hands-on learning opportunities and practical experience.

Average Salary: $44,947

Health Educator

Health educators work closely with individuals and communities to help them develop and maintain healthy habits, from diet and exercise to managing chronic conditions. They do so by assessing the needs of a community, developing programs and events to meet those needs, creating and distributing educational materials, gathering and analyzing data, evaluating the effectiveness of their materials and programs, and advocating for better health policies and resources for members of their community.

Requirements: To become a health educator, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree in public health, health education, health promotion, or a similar subject. Earning a master’s degree in public health can help you advance in your career. You may also consider earning the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) certification, and, after five years of working in the field, the Master Certified Health Education (MCHES) certification.

Average Salary: $59,990

Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers — also known as healthcare executives or administrators — work behind the scenes to keep hospitals, nursing homes, group practices, and other healthcare facilities running efficiently. They can manage anything from an entire facility to a specific clinical area. The job requires a knack for organization and involves setting and accomplishing organizational goals; monitoring financial performance; and ensuring compliance with government regulations.

Requirements: Medical and health services managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and work experience in an administrative or clinical role in a hospital or other healthcare facility to enter the field, and a master’s degree in public administration, business administration, or public health to advance to more competitive opportunities.

Average Salary: $104,830

Policy Analyst

Policy analysts research, evaluate, and shape public policy. They investigate current and potential policies and use their research findings to propose solutions to social issues. They often share their research with government officials and legislators and may specialize in a specific type of policy — such as education, defense, or energy. Policy analysts must also consider the moral implications of laws and policies and the impact they have on actual people.

Requirements: To become a policy analyst, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as human services, public policy, political science, public administration, international relations, economics, or statistics. However, to qualify for mid- to high-level positions you will typically need a master’s degree.

Average Salary: $81,566

Probation Officer

Probation officers supervise probationers and parolees, oversee their actions, and complete pre-trial investigations that they then communicate to court officials and prosecutors before any sentence is meted out. While supervising probationers, officers encourage positive behavioral changes, make sure offenders obey all court orders, and ensure their clients are not dangers to the community.

Requirements: To become a probation officer, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree. Academic interest or professional experience in criminal justice is also helpful. In many states, prospective probation officers must also participate in a training program and pass a certification exam, though the details of officer training are state-specific. Often, you’ll then be required to work for up to a year as a trainee.

Average Salary: $51,439

Rehabilitation Specialist

Rehabilitation specialists work with individuals who have special physical, social, or vocational difficulties. Their goal is to help these individuals re-acclimate to independent daily living by teaching them strategies to succeed in daily life, whether at work or school. They assess clients’ needs and eligibility for community services; coordinate activities accordingly; and counsel individuals on their goals and objectives. Rehabilitation specialists typically specialize in areas like vocational, mental health, or cardiac rehabilitation.

Requirements: Due to many specialization options available in this profession, qualifications vary. To qualify for most rehabilitation specialist opportunities, you will need an associate or bachelor’s degree with coursework in your area of interest, as well as current licensure, excellent interpersonal skills, and experience working with special needs populations.

Average Salary: $53,123

Social Worker

Social workers work with individuals, families, and communities to overcome challenges and effect social change. They typically specialize in helping a certain population of people or working in a specific setting. Settings include schools, hospitals, mental health and substance use clinics, senior centers, prisons, military settings, government offices, corporations, and public and private agencies. Clinical social workers can also provide psychotherapy services.

Requirements: Social workers need a bachelor’s degree in human services, social work, or a related discipline, and supervised fieldwork. Those hoping to work in a clinic also need a master’s degree in social work with supervised training. Programs should be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Licensure requirements vary by state.

Average Salary: $48,000

Strategies for Landing Your Dream Career in Human Services

A quality education will only get you so far. To land your dream career in human services, you’ll want to go the extra mile. From gaining practical experience to joining a professional association, tailoring your applications to researching your prospective employers, we’ll lay out the steps you can take to set yourself up for professional success.

Gain Practical Experience

Although education is important, experience can carry just as much weight — if not more — when it comes to finding a career. It’s one thing to know something in your head, and another thing entirely to know how to apply it in real life. Accept an entry-level human services job or participate in volunteer opportunities to gain the necessary experience you’d like to add to your resume.

Join a Professional Association

Joining a professional association can enhance your job application by showing that you are committed to the field. Associations for human service specialists can also offer professional development resources, discussion forums, and events that connect professionals to one another. Here are a few you might consider joining as a human service specialist:

Prepare and Practice for Interviews

It’s important to become as informed about your prospective employer as possible before an interview. Familiarize yourself with their mission statement, their clinical service offerings, their target populations, and even their social media pages. This knowledge will help you ask relevant questions and will show your interviewer you’re serious about the job. You should also be prepared to answer hypothetical scenario-based questions about clinical work. Here are some human services interview questions you may want to review.

Tailor Your Application Materials

Rather than listing out everything you’ve ever accomplished on your resume, be sure to highlight only the qualifications and experience that make you a good match for the job you’re applying for. If someone were to scan your resume in just a few seconds, would the correct words and experiences differentiate you from dozens of other applicants?

Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

We’ve covered some of the most popular careers for human services degree-holders and the strategies for landing them, but you may have a few more questions about available positions in the industry, advancement opportunities, and how to prepare yourself to land them. Below we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions on these topics to give you a better idea of what to expect.

How can I advance in my career?

The most common way to advance your career is by obtaining more work experience and education. This could mean volunteering in an area that is not your strength, earning a graduate degree, adding graduate certificates to your resume, and participating in networking activities. Specializing in a more niche practice area can also make you more valuable as an employee.

How do I gain practical experience in human services?

The best way to get practical experience is through on-the-job training. You can look into internship opportunities or training programs directly through your employer, or simply lean into everything your job has to offer as it takes its course. If you can afford to pursue unpaid opportunities, consider taking on additional volunteer positions as they become available.

What is the highest paying career I can get with a human services degree?

There are several human services positions that will put you on the higher end of the pay scale —between $80,000 and $100,000 per year — like policy manager or medical manager, which we described in detail above. The myriad positions available to human service degree-holders means the best way to determine your earning potential is to research specific positions individually.

What job can I get with an associate degree in human services?

Your options may be limited if your highest level of education is an associate degree, however there are entry-level positions available. For example, you can work as an assistant in a human services program, a community outreach worker, or a substance abuse counselor. Networking can help open job opportunities you may not otherwise have had.

Which entry level jobs can I get immediately out of school?

With a relevant degree from college, you will be qualified for the vast majority of entry-level positions immediately out of school. These include social services help desk member, parent support specialist, and youth center employee. If you’re interested in more advanced positions, you can look for internships that give you a little more experience before you graduate and begin applying. Networking while in school can also help you line up a job after graduation.