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Human ser­vices is a broad field that appeals to any­one who is inter­est­ed in help­ing oth­ers. Those who earn a human ser­vices degree often either assist­ed indi­vid­u­als or com­mu­ni­ties to achieve mea­sur­able goals. As part of the cur­ricu­lum for a human ser­vices pro­gram, the stu­dent learns about the impor­tance of com­mu­ni­ty out­reach and cri­sis inter­ven­tions. Jobs relat­ed to those who earn a human ser­vices degree include coun­selor, ther­a­pist, health aide, and social work­er

Human ser­vices degrees prep indi­vid­u­als for entry-lev­el careers in social ser­vice depart­ments. Fur­ther­more, a human ser­vices bach­e­lor degree pre­pares the stu­dent for any grad­u­ate-lev­el cours­es. After earn­ing a human ser­vices degree, the grad­u­ate may earn a master’s or doc­tor­al degree in human ser­vices or social ser­vices. Often­times, grad­u­ates gain coun­sel­ing expe­ri­ence before attend­ing a master’s lev­el pro­gram in the human ser­vices field. How­ev­er, a master’s degree is not required for many jobs as a social work­er and coun­selor. With a bachelor’s degree, the grad­u­ate can decide to become a coun­selor for those suf­fer­ing from men­tal health dis­or­ders or addic­tions. Coun­selors pro­vide treat­ment for sub­stance abuse, eat­ing dis­or­ders, and oth­er men­tal health issues.

So what can you do with a human ser­vices degree? Com­mon ques­tions for those inter­est­ed in the field of human ser­vices and degree pro­grams for human ser­vices com­mon­ly ask the fol­low­ing ques­tions before apply­ing for admissions:

What is Human Services?

Accord­ing to the Nation­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Human Ser­vices , human ser­vices is typ­i­cal­ly defined as strate­gies used for the pre­ven­tion and reme­di­a­tion of prob­lems typ­i­cal­ly found in com­mu­ni­ties. By pro­vid­ing human ser­vices, the employ­ee is look­ing for ways to improve a client or community’s over­all qual­i­ty of life. Work­ers with­in the field of human ser­vices pro­vide direct ser­vices, but also ensure indi­vid­u­als have improved access to the ser­vices they need to thrive. Social work­ers and med­ical work­ers are two cat­e­gories of employ­ees who pro­vide human ser­vices. There are numer­ous ways that these pro­fes­sion­als are able to help com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. For exam­ple, a human ser­vices spe­cial­ist could process appli­ca­tion to deter­mine a family’s elig­bil­i­ty for hous­ing aid. Anoth­er spe­cial­ist could be enlist­ed to help eval­u­ate whether a juve­nile is liv­ing in a safe and healthy envi­ron­m­nent. Although many peo­ple who work in human ser­vices assist indi­vid­ual clients and fam­i­lies, there are work­ers who devel­op out­ra­ch ser­vices to aid entire communities. 

What is the Department of Human Services?

A Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices is a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion run by the state. Each state depart­ment is respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing health and relat­ed ser­vices to their res­i­dents. Many of these ser­vices are intend­ed to pro­vide aid to the under­privlidged. Exam­ples of pro­grams run by the Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices include back­ground checks, home heat­ing assis­tance, med­ical assis­tance, hous­ing aid, cri­sis inter­ven­tion, and nutri­tion assis­tance pro­grams. Each of these divi­sions with­in the Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices are man­aged by those with degrees in social ser­vices or human ser­vices. With­in these depart­ments, employ­ees are need­ed to eval­u­ate appli­cants, cus­tomize ser­vices based on client needs, and ensure pos­i­tive pro­gram outcomes. 

What is the Department of Health and Human Services?

The Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices is a divi­sion with­in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States. The pri­or­i­ty of the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices is that all cit­i­zens have access to pro­grams and resources to improve their qual­i­ty of life. A few exam­ples of needs met through the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices are:

  • Emer­gency preparations
  • Tem­po­rary assis­tance for needy fam­i­lies (TANF)
  • Health insur­ance assistance
  • Health screen­ings and prevention
  • Med­ical care research
  • School readi­ness programs

By pur­su­ing a bachelor’s degree in human ser­vices, grad­u­ates are pre­pared to secure posi­tions with­in the Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices and the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. Entry-lev­el titles for jobs with­in these gov­ern­ment agen­cies include lia­sion, screen­ing agent, and social ser­vices assistant. 

School and Program Accreditation for Human Services 

School and pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion are a top con­sid­er­a­tion when select­ing human ser­vices degree tracks. Accred­i­ta­tion adds val­ue to a degree and improves chances for secur­ing a top posi­tion after grad­u­a­tion. Employ­ers often research degrees earned by can­di­dates to con­firm that appli­cants have attend­ed an accred­it­ed school. With the rise of junk degrees, an accred­i­ta­tion con­firms to the employ­er that the appli­cant has grad­u­at­ed from a chal­leng­ing aca­d­e­m­ic program.

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion is more impor­tant than any oth­er type of accred­i­ta­tion. The Coun­cil of High­er Edu­ca­tion Accred­i­ta­tion rec­og­nizes sev­en cur­rent accred­it­ing bod­ies for col­leges locat­ed in the Unit­ed States. Each accred­it­ing agency is assigned a spe­cif­ic region of the coun­try. For instance, the Mid­dle States Com­mis­sion on High­er Edu­ca­tion eval­u­ates schools locat­ed in Delaware, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, Mary­land, New Jer­sey, New York, Penn­syl­va­nia, Puer­to Rico, and the Vir­gin Islands. For a col­lege to receive region­al accred­i­ta­tion, it must offer at least an associate’s degree. The phys­i­cal loca­tion of the col­lege deter­mines the assig­na­tion for the region­al accred­it­ing body. Accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus isn’t impact­ed if the col­lege offers online cours­es and degree programs. 

Region­al accred­i­ta­tion eval­u­ates the school and its majors. To obtain accred­i­ta­tion, the agency reviews pro­gram out­comes, staff cre­den­tials, and cur­ricu­lums. Degree-grant­i­ng insti­tutes are eval­u­at­ed peri­od­i­cal­ly to main­tain their accred­i­ta­tion sta­tus. The ben­e­fit of attend­ing an accred­it­ed school is that many col­leges only accept trans­fer cred­its from region­al­ly accred­it­ed insti­tu­tions. Fur­ther­more, fed­er­al loan and grant fund­ing is only avail­able for schools that have achieved accreditation.

After con­firm­ing a school obtains region­al accred­i­ta­tion, the stu­dent should con­sid­er pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions are respon­si­ble for review­ing and accred­it­ing degrees in the field of human ser­vices. The top provider for pro­gram accred­i­ta­tion in this area is the Coun­cil for Stan­dards in Human Ser­vices Edu­ca­tion. The orga­ni­za­tion has been around for more than forty years as a way to give cre­dence to degree pro­grams that train human ser­vices pro­fes­sion­als. The coun­cil is rec­og­nized by the Coun­cil of High­er Edu­ca­tion Accred­i­ta­tion and has strict stan­dards for asso­ciate, bach­e­lor, and mas­ter degree pro­grams in the human ser­vices field. 

Types of Human Services Degrees

Degrees in human ser­vices are offered online and on-cam­pus at col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties around the world. Online degrees in human ser­vices are very con­ve­nient for those with sched­ules that make it dif­fi­cult to attend in-per­son class­es. Employ­ers don’t note a dif­fer­ence between a tra­di­tion­al degree and human ser­vices online degree. At the bach­e­lor lev­el, a total of 120 cred­its is need­ed for degree con­fer­ment for both types of degrees in human ser­vices. The cred­its include a com­bi­na­tion of core major class­es and gen­er­al edu­ca­tion require­ments. Gen­er­al edu­ca­tion require­ments nor­mal­ly include intro­duc­to­ry class­es in dis­ci­plines such as math­e­mat­ics, art, sci­ence, and philosophy. 

A bachelor’s degree in human ser­vices is the most pop­u­lar choice among stu­dents look­ing to find gain­ful employ­ment post-grad­u­a­tion. An associate’s degree is avail­able at some com­mu­ni­ty col­leges, but very few posi­tions are offered at that lev­el. With a bachelor’s degree in human ser­vices, the can­di­date has an increased like­li­hood of find­ing an entry-lev­el or mid-lev­el posi­tion. If the stu­dent does earn an associate’s degree before enrolling in a bach­e­lor degree pro­gram, he or she should con­firm that all cred­its are transferable. 

Human ser­vices degrees online may have dif­fer­ent names, but include sim­i­lar course loads. Here are the top names of degrees in human ser­vices found at accred­it­ed col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties around the country:

  • Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Human Services
  • Bach­e­lor of Applied Sci­ence in Human Services 
  • Bach­e­lor of Applied Human and Con­sumer Sciences
  • Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Human Ser­vice Management
  • Bach­e­lor of Arts in Human Services

Some human ser­vices degrees are housed in crim­i­nal jus­tice depart­ments as well, and may be designed as a. spe­cial­iza­tion in crim­i­nal jus­tice, due to the close rela­tion­ship between the fields.

Although human ser­vices degrees come by dif­fer­ent names, all pro­grams have sim­i­lar class­es with­in their cur­ricu­lums. Exam­ples of cours­es found with­in human ser­vices online degree pro­grams include Case Man­age­ment, Psy­chol­o­gy, Human Behav­ior, Ethics, Com­mu­ni­ty Health, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Social Pol­i­cy, and Inter­ven­tion Strate­gies. Most col­leges require that at least 60 cred­its are earned through core and elec­tive human ser­vices class­es pri­or to degree con­fer­ment. Intern­ship pro­grams may also be part of the grad­u­a­tion require­ment for human ser­vices degrees.

Some human ser­vices online degrees offer the top­ic as a spe­cial­iza­tion with­in a major. For instance, a col­lege with a Bach­e­lor of Lib­er­al Stud­ies will often have human ser­vices as a spe­cial­iza­tion to nar­row the program’s focus. Addi­tion­al spe­cial­iza­tions include Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Men­tal Health-Human Ser­vices and Bach­e­lor of Applied Arts and Sci­ences-Human Ser­vices. Class offer­ings may vary from col­lege to col­lege, so review the cat­a­log to con­firm that the school pro­vides the appro­pri­ate spe­cial­iza­tions to reach any career goals.

Fur­ther­more, human ser­vices online degrees could allow for spe­cial­iza­tions with­in the major. As an exam­ple, at South­ern New Hamp­shire Uni­ver­si­ty, online stu­dents with human ser­vices as a major can choose between three tracks: geron­tol­ogy, sub­stance abuse/addiction, or child and fam­i­ly services.

The time­frame to com­plete a bach­e­lor degree is usu­al­ly around four years. How­ev­er, online degrees in human ser­vices are often­times fin­ished at an accel­er­at­ed rate. Pro­gram require­ments are usu­al­ly met in two to three years with class­es tak­en in the evening or week­ends. Many col­leges offer self-paced human ser­vices degrees to allow stu­dents to fin­ish class­es when their sched­ules allow it. For any type of work-study pro­grams and intern­ships, they can be arranged at the student’s location.

After grad­u­at­ing, stu­dents either enter anoth­er degree pro­gram in the field of human ser­vices or secure a posi­tion at a local, state, or fed­er­al agency. Online master’s degree pro­grams are offered for human ser­vices. At the master’s lev­el, degree tracks are for those who want to pur­sue careers as ther­a­pists, high­er edu­ca­tion instruc­tors, coun­selors, and human ser­vices man­agers. An online master’s degree takes around two years of full-time study to com­plete. Most pro­fes­sion­als obtain a human ser­vices entry-lev­el posi­tion before enrolling in a grad­u­ate-lev­el position. 

Human Services Certifications

Dur­ing or after grad­u­at­ing with a degree, pro­fes­sion­als pur­sue human ser­vices cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Human ser­vices cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams enhance a person’s skillset. In most cas­es, a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in human ser­vices is job-spe­cif­ic. Human cer­tifi­cates online pro­grams are a very con­ve­nient option to con­sid­er. These pro­grams allow the require­ments to be fin­ished when the pro­fes­sion­al isn’t work­ing. Since in-per­son meet­ings aren’t a require­ment, a human ser­vice cer­tifi­cate online is usu­al­ly cost-effec­tive too. The fol­low­ing are human ser­vices cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that may help an indi­vid­ual secure an advanced posi­tion with­in the industry.

Human Ser­vices Board Cer­ti­fied Prac­ti­tion­er is the most estab­lished cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram in the field. This cre­den­tial was cre­at­ed to stan­dard­ize the field of human ser­vices. To qual­i­fy for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, the indi­vid­ual must have an associate’s degree or high­er from an accred­it­ed uni­ver­si­ty. The appli­cant must also com­plete 350 hours of post-grad­u­ate work expe­ri­ence in the field of human ser­vices. After pass­ing the exam­i­na­tion, the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is good for five years before renewal.

Com­mis­sion for Case Man­ag­er Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­vides a cer­tifi­cate to those who plan to work with­in the med­ical field as a case man­ag­er. To qual­i­fy for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, a bach­e­lor degree in human ser­vices is required. Fur­ther­more, a min­i­mum of 12-month case man­age­ment expe­ri­ence must be com­plet­ed before apply­ing for the pro­gram. To receive the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, a pass­ing grade is need­ed on the admin­is­tered exam­i­na­tion. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is good for five years.

The Nation­al Alliance of Direct Sup­port Pro­fes­sion­als offers an employ­ment sup­port cre­den­tial for those who have degrees in human ser­vices. Employ­ment spe­cial­ists work with com­mu­ni­ties and indi­vid­u­als who need assis­tance with secur­ing gain­ful employ­ment. To qual­i­fy, you need a degree in human ser­vices and 40 hours of employ­ment sup­port expe­ri­ence before tak­ing the exam­i­na­tion. Renew­al is required every three years. 

Licen­sure is need­ed for some posi­tions with­in the human ser­vices indus­try. Each state has dif­fer­ent licens­ing require­ments. For instance, indi­vid­u­als pur­su­ing careers as coun­selors or ther­a­pists often need a license to prac­tice in their states. A coun­selor who wish­es to receive a license in his or her state must obtain the appro­pri­ate edu­ca­tion­al back­ground and work expe­ri­ence. As an exam­ple, in New Jer­sey, a licensed coun­selor needs 60 cred­its of course work in coun­sel­ing and three years of super­vised work experience.

If you want to know what to do with a human ser­vices degree, con­tin­ue reading!

Careers in Human Services: What Can I Do with a Degree in Human Services

A com­mon ques­tion before enrolling in a degree pro­gram is: What jobs can I get with a human ser­vices degree? Careers with a human ser­vices degree are var­ied due to the broad nature of the dis­ci­pline. Here are a few human ser­vices bach­e­lors degree jobs that are pos­si­ble after fin­ish­ing an under­grad­u­ate degree in human services.

Human ser­vices degree pro­grams pre­pare you for work in non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, pub­lic health, com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions, and more.

Human ser­vices careers are found with­in the Depart­ment of Human Ser­vices and the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices. For many of these agen­cies, eli­gi­bil­i­ty screen­ers are need­ed. An eli­gi­bil­i­ty screen­er eval­u­ates each appli­cant to deter­mine what ser­vices he or she could ben­e­fit from. Com­mu­ni­ty out­reach work­ers are also employed by the agen­cies as a way to pro­vide infor­ma­tion to those who may not have easy access to pro­grams and ser­vices. Oth­er career options include becom­ing a case work­er in fos­ter care, a sub­stance abuse coun­selor, a domes­tic vio­lence agent, work­ing in dis­abil­i­ties ser­vices, or oth­er sorts of advocacy.

Anoth­er pop­u­lar job title is human ser­vices liai­son. Liaisons in human ser­vices pro­vide client sup­port with­in dif­fer­ent depart­ments. For instance, a liai­son may eval­u­ate a fam­i­ly to deter­mine if they qual­i­fy for any nutri­tion or hous­ing assistance. 

Human ser­vices degree jobs also include assis­tant and aide posi­tions with­in fields such as child­care and med­ical care. Social ser­vice assis­tants and aides are hired by nurs­ing homes, med­ical cen­ters, and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to cre­ate treat­ment plans for clients and make rec­om­men­da­tions for their ongo­ing care.

One of the most read­i­ly avail­able jobs for those with a human ser­vices degree is work­ing as a per­son­al care or home health aide. In these posi­tions, care­givers pro­vide assis­tance with any dai­ly liv­ing activ­i­ties. Duties may include dress­ing, trans­porta­tion, and med­ica­tion man­age­ment. Care­givers can work on-site or trav­el to a person’s home to assist with these tasks. 

Jobs with a human ser­vices degree are also avail­able for those who want to work in the field of case man­age­ment. Case man­agers are hired by agen­cies such as reha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters, med­ical facil­i­ties, and ther­a­py offices. A com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice man­ag­er is anoth­er opportunity.

Social work is a poten­tial field for those who grad­u­ate with a human ser­vices degree. Many orga­ni­za­tions accept a bachelor’s degree for an entry-lev­el social work job. Social work­ers pro­vide sup­port and care to their assigned client base. Social work­ers may inter­act with chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Often, orga­ni­za­tions hire social work­ers and men­tal health coun­selors to be a part of their teams. Exam­ples of places to find a job as a social work­er include men­tal health clin­ics, schools, med­ical cen­ters, and human ser­vices agencies. 

Crim­i­nal jus­tice is anoth­er relat­ed indus­try that could appeal to those with a human ser­vices degree. By hav­ing a human ser­vices degree, the grad­u­ate could find a job as a pro­ba­tion offi­cer, court liai­son, or reha­bil­i­ta­tion case man­ag­er. Tra­di­tion­al­ly, pro­ba­tion offi­cers assist with mak­ing the tran­si­tion from prison back to pub­lic life go smooth­ly for an inmate. The offi­cer helps with employ­ment and also con­ducts any ille­gal sub­stance test­ing. Pro­ba­tion offi­cers are also uti­lized to eval­u­ate cur­rent inmates. The offi­cer eval­u­ates a pris­on­er to deter­mine if he or she has shown signs of reha­bil­i­ta­tion. Court liaisons are non-uni­formed employ­ees of a law enforce­ment agency. Their role is to act as a go-between for the courts and will often help with wit­ness­es in court cas­es. The liai­son may sched­ule court appear­ances for a wit­ness or prep the indi­vid­ual to take the stand. 

Salary Expectations in Human Services

The aver­age human ser­vices bach­e­lor degree salary depends on what type of posi­tion the grad­u­ate obtains. With the broad­ness of the field, the salary range for human ser­vices employ­ees is large. Entry-lev­el employ­ees can earn any­where from $24,000 to $40,000 year­ly depend­ing on what type of posi­tion they obtain. 

Although aide and assis­tant posi­tions have a low­er start­ing salary than oth­er jobs, the work also pre­pares the pro­fes­sion­al for more advanced posi­tions. Accord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics (BLS), home health aides and per­son­al care aides make an aver­age annu­al salary around $24,000. These posi­tions are ide­al for those who are think­ing of get­ting a case man­ag­er or depart­ment man­ag­er job in the future. Direct care expe­ri­ence makes an employ­ee a more attrac­tive hire for mid-lev­el and man­age­r­i­al positions.

Social and human ser­vices assis­tants have a high­er earn­ings poten­tial than home health aides and per­son­al care assis­tants. These pro­fes­sion­als make an aver­age of $35,000 per year and are employed by non-prof­its, gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and social ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions. As a per­son gains more expe­ri­ence, he or she may be con­sid­ered for more advanced posi­tions with high­er pay rates. For instance, social ser­vice man­agers have an aver­age year­ly salary of $67,000. Social ser­vice man­agers over­see social ser­vice assis­tants and plan out pro­grams for the orga­ni­za­tion that ben­e­fit the community.

With a bachelor’s degree, a per­son can get a job as a social work­er. Typ­i­cal­ly, agen­cies only require a master’s degree for the title of clin­i­cal social work­er. Social work­ers make around $50,000 per year.

The most lucra­tive posi­tions for human ser­vices degree hold­ers is jobs relat­ed to crim­i­nal jus­tice. Pro­ba­tion offi­cers and relat­ed careers have a medi­an pay of almost $60,000 per year. These pro­fes­sion­als work with both incar­carat­ed indi­vid­u­als with­in a prison and at their offices once the pris­on­ers have been released from custody.

The loca­tion of the job will also impact the human ser­vices degree salary. The top states with the high­est mean wage for social ser­vice work­ers include Rhode Island, New Jer­sey, Col­orado, and New York. For instance, social ser­vice man­agers make more than $94,000 in Rhode Island, com­pared to the nation­al aver­age of $67,000. Top pay­ing cities for social ser­vices and human ser­vices work­ers are Den­ver, Wash­ing­ton DC, New York City, and San­ta Barbara. 

The top-pay­ing bach­e­lor degree in human ser­vices salary can be found with­in dif­fer­ent indus­tries. Many pro­fes­sion­als find that the high­est pay­ing posi­tions are done by work­ing pri­vate­ly or for a gov­ern­ment agency. For instance, case man­agers employed by the gov­ern­ment make an esti­mat­ed $85,550 year­ly. In com­par­i­son, the aver­age pay for case man­agers is $67,150.

Human Services Professional Organizations 

Join­ing a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion helps a per­son with­in the human ser­vices indus­try immense­ly. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions pro­vide ser­vices such as con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion cred­its, train­ing sem­i­nars, and net­work­ing events. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions also often pub­lish mate­ri­als to keep mem­bers up to date on the lat­est indus­try news. Most pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions charge a nom­i­nal fee for year­ly mem­ber­ship. If con­tin­u­ing cred­its are need­ed for a person’s cur­rent job, pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions will usu­al­ly pro­vide mem­bers with a dis­count on their course offerings.

Relat­ed Rankings: 

25 Best Bach­e­lor’s in Human Services

15 Best Online Bach­e­lor’s in Human Services

10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Human Services

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Human Services

15 Best Online Train­ing and Devel­op­ment Programs