Careers in the Various Types of Human Service Organizations

The human services field is a broad one, and it encompasses various organizations that meet the needs of individuals and families in our society using an interdisciplinary knowledge base. Human service organizations focus on both prevention and remediation of problems, and they advocate for policy changes that benefit at-risk groups in our communities. There are many different types of human services organizations, and each specializes in working with a different group of individuals.

Organizations for children

Social Worker with ChildHuman service organizations for children work with the youngest members of society to prevent abuse and neglect, advocate for policy change, work with families to build upon strengths and resolve weaknesses, and assist disadvantaged children in reuniting with their biological families or finding new home situations when appropriate.

Examples of human service careers working with children include:

  • Children’s protective service workers
  • Community social workers
  • School psychologists
  • Children’s mental health specialists
  • Child abuse workers
  • Probation officers and
  • Juvenile court liaisons

Professionals working in human service organizations for children often focus on building relationships with the families they serve, encouraging independent thinking and recognizing both strengths and weaknesses in the children and the family unit. These professionals are familiar with a wide range of community resources that assist children and families, and they make referrals to outside agencies as necessary.

Organizations for the elderly

At the other end of the spectrum are human service organizations that serve the geriatric population. According to aarp.org, approximately 90-percent of seniors have a stated desire to age in place. In order to do so safely, in home services are sometimes needed as the result of deteriorating physical or cognitive health and related safety concerns. Adult social service professionals often step in to assist with recognizing whether or not aging in place is a realistic goal, coordinating services and investigating protective service claims. When aging in place is no longer believed to be appropriate, many seniors enter assisted living facilities or nursing homes. In these facilities, professionals including licensed clinical social workers, nurse case managers, activities coordinators, social service assistants and mental health counselors provide assistance with the sometimes difficult transition from home to facility life and the day to day needs of the senior.

 Organization for disadvantaged populations 

Some human service professionals assist the most disadvantaged members of society rather than focusing on a particular age group. Substance abuse counselors, probation officers, halfway house counselors, public safety and disaster workers, migrant and immigrant case managers and mental health workers are but a few of the professionals who fall into this category of human service workers. These professionals use many of the same skill sets that other human service professionals use, but their focus is often on stabilizing individuals or safely and productively reintegrating them into society. Crisis management is a necessary skill for these professionals and many use it on a daily basis. Their focus is also on empowering clients, offering support and utilizing effective strategies to modify or reverse troublesome behaviors.

Organizations focused on advocacy

Finally, there are human service professionals who focus on advocacy, education or governing policies. While these individuals work less directly with individuals in our communities, their contributions to society as a whole should not be discounted. Human service careers focusing on policy and education include becoming a college level educator, working in the office of a local, state or federal politician, taking a leadership role in a non-profit organization, pursuing a career as a grant writer or advising schools, nursing homes, hospitals or other human service organizations. These positions are often more administrative, and they are well suited for the individual who enjoys public speaking, grant writing, research, creating policies and taking on a leadership position offering oversight to others within a human services organization. Many of these positions require advanced degrees.

The human service field offers vast career opportunities serving various at-need individuals in society. All of these opportunities have one thing in common, the need for trained, skilled human service professionals continues to grow, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a continued rise in employment opportunities within this field of up to 31-percent through 2022. With so many opportunities and the continued potential for future growth, there are many great reasons to consider a career in a human services organization.

Find Your State’s Licensing Laws with Social Work License Map

swmap

Are you unsure about your State’s licensing laws or possibly considering a move to another state? Finding this information out on your own can be a frustrating process, and you may not know where to begin your search process. Well, Social Work License Map has created an interactive website to help kick-start your licensing journey for your State or a state you are maybe contemplating a move to.

Recently, Social Work Helper was listed on the Inspired Advocates list of top advocacy blogs, and I decided to reach out to Inspired Advocates which is a project of Social Work License Map to find out more about their efforts in providing up to date information relevant to the social work community.  I had the opportunity to interview  Brian Childs who is a content developer for Social Work License Map, and here is our interview.

SWH: Tell us about Inspired Advocates, and what led to the creation of Social Work License Map?

Brian Childs
Brian Childs

I studied History and Spanish at the University of Georgia and went on to earn a Masters in Journalism from NYU. Currently, I oversee content and technology projects for SocialWorkLicenseMap.com and Inspired Advocates is one of those projects.

Inspired Advocates is a dynamic ranking of websites in the social justice blogosphere designed to raise awareness, build community and educate bloggers on how to promote their sites using search engine optimization, social media and outreach. Any site with a blog that is relevant to the social work space can submit themselves to Inspired Advocates. Once approved, they are ranked by our algorithm which looks at domain authority, frequency of posting, user interactions and the quality of the content.

Social Work License Map was created to be a free resource aspiring and current social workers to help guide them through the licensure process while also providing practical information such as salary, scholarships and career tracks.

SWH: How is the site useful to students, aspiring social workers, and practitioners?

For students considering a career in social work, or any career really, it can be difficult to assess the pros and cons and the best path to move forward. What are the opportunities available in the field? What level of education to do you need to pursue your goals? How will you pay for that education? When you graduate, are there going to be jobs available?

While we can’t advice individual students on their specific circumstances, we have tried to create a helpful resource for the aspiring social worker by researching  information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, state social work licensing boards, and scholarships for social workers and placing them in one convenient location. Social Work License Map is meant to be an overview of the available information, with links pointing back to more in-depth sources.

For current social workers, we have provided guides to help with questions relating to resumes, interviews, cover letters and conferences. Our newest project, Inspired Advocates, is intended to raise awareness of online projects by social workers or online social advocacy efforts that overlap with the social work field. After our campaign to raise awareness of this new tool, we will be publishing a series of guides to social media, search engine optimization and creating content for the web to help educate advocates on how to increase their online presence.

SWH: How did you collect and verify data to ensure the accuracy of licensure laws in all 50 states, and how often is it updated?

We collected the data from the relevant state social work licensing board then contacted those licensing boards to make sure we had represented the process accurately. This research and fact checking process was last completed approximately 18 months ago and will be updated again after we’ve completed our outreach and awareness campaign for our new Inspired Advocates tool.

SWH: Does your site also provide information about becoming a social worker and social worker salaries, and how reliable is the information?

The information on becoming a social worker largely comes from sources such as the Council on Social Work Education, the National Association of Social Workers and the Association of Social Work Boards as well as a variety of schools of social work. The information on social work salaries comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Throughout our research we attempted to use the most reliable sources for this information.

Growing Careers in Social Work

Social work is a field offering a diverse array of challenges and exciting opportunities to improve the lives of individuals in all sectors of society. The jobs in social work and the human services field are considered to be some of the fastest growing career opportunities, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting growth rates exceeding 23 percent in many areas. Some of the fastest growing sectors of the human services field are discussed below.

Case Management

Growing Careers ImageHuman services case management opportunities continue to top the list of growing fields in the social work arena. Professionals taking on these tasks assess individuals to determine their needs and make recommendations of community resources that benefit them. These professionals maintain a relationship with their clients for as long as services are needed, and they constantly reassess to ensure resources remain appropriate and necessary. Case managers work in long term care facilities, with geriatric clients in their homes, assisting children and families in the court system, in hospital settings and with clients in community corrections. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 27 percent growth rate in this field between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the fastest growing professions in the United States.

Substance Abuse Counselor

Another growing sector of the human services field is substance abuse and behavioral health. Counselors working in this capacity advise people who are facing addictions. They might work in a hospital setting, outpatient care facility, within the prison system or in private practice. Substance abuse counselors can expect to see a 27 percent growth rate in their careers between 2010 and 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued growth in the field of substance abuse and behavioral health counselors is largely due to the transition that managed care insurance companies are making, moving clients away from seeing more expensive psychiatrists and psychologists and toward sessions with less expensive counselors. In addition, as jails seek solutions to overpopulation problems, the criminal justice system continues to sentence drug offenders to counseling rather than jail time.

Health Education

Health education is a third field of human services that is experiencing tremendous growth. The demand for healthy living information continues to escalate, and this is leading to an increased need for professional health educators. These individuals often work in private practice or hospital settings, and they teach individuals about behaviors that promote physical and mental wellness. Corporations are also employing firms that offer wellness services in an effort to reduce employee illnesses and cut down on increasing healthcare costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 37 percent growth rate is expected in this field between 2010 and 2020.

Social Services Assistant

Individuals seeking a more entry level human services occupation might be interested in a social services assistant position. Professionals working in this capacity provide support to social workers and their clients. They assist in locating resources, transporting clients, completing social work documentation and generally providing support to the organization in which they serve. Social service assistants work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, government agencies, nursing homes and non-profit agencies. This is an excellent position for the new graduate, as it provides exposure to the field of social work and additional on the job education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 28 percent growth rate in this profession between 2010 and 2020, a higher than average rate when all occupations are considered.

Marriage & Family Therapist

Finally, individuals with higher degrees can consider a career as a marriage and family therapist. This profession requires at least a Master’s Degree, and licensing is required in all fifty states. Therapists assist individuals, couples and families during times of crises, and they empower their clients by recognizing strengths and teaching coping techniques. Many therapists are employed in private practice, but mental health facilities and hospitals also offer positions for these professionals. The growth rate for this field is anticipated to be 37 percent between 2010 and 2020, with continued increases expected as managed care programs show a preference for paying reimbursement to therapists versus more expensive psychologists or psychiatrists.

The opportunities a social work degree presents will continue to see extensive growth well into the 21st century. Graduates should consider the challenges that each area of social work presents, and apply their talents in the area that best represents their individual strengths. In addition, considering positions such as the ones described above helps ensure continued upward career mobility and job security for many years to come.

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