If you see yourself as a caring and patient person, and one of your strengths is offering advice and support to others, consider a career in human services. As a human services major, you will be trained to help people from various backgrounds who must contend with a wide array of challenges, from teen pregnancy to mental illness. For this reason, students should share a concern for children, youth, adults, and families. The degree prepares them to work with individuals and families in agencies like mental health organizations and counseling centers. Strong communication skills are essential, as students will work closely with individuals who need physical and emotional support.
Classes and Assignments of a Human Services Major
Human services majors will take courses in areas such as social work, social policy, sociology, psychology, child development, adult development, and ethics. These courses are designed to provide students with a foundation in human development and family studies as they develop research skills. Classes will involve discussions and group projects, and most programs will require students to complete an internship at a human services agency or program. These internships are pivotal, as they help students determine which setting suits them best. Students may be placed at internships with treatment centers and educational programs, among other human services agencies.
Degree Levels for a Human Services Major
- Associate. Students with online associate human services degrees may be able to work as social and human service assistants, who help social workers, healthcare workers, and other professionals provide services to people. However, students who want to become social workers must pursue a bachelor’s degree. Students should also determine whether a specific associate degree program is designed to prepare students for the workforce or for further education.
- Bachelor’s. Online bachelors human services degrees provide a strong foundation in human services, and degrees in related fields such as such as counseling and rehabilitation may also allow students to pursue social work and related fields. The curriculum will prepare students to conduct interviews with patients, implement treatment plans, and utilize crisis intervention techniques.
- Master’s. Online masters human services degrees, or related degrees such as counseling, social work, or rehabilitation, may be necessary for advancement to certain case management and social work positions. These may include positions in health and school settings, as well as jobs within public and private agencies.
- Doctoral. A Ph.D. in human services, or the closely related fields of human development and family studies, is best suited for those who plan to pursue academia. Ph.D. students conduct family studies and intervention research, which is focuses on improving the human condition by addressing issues such as literacy rates among children and cross cultural differences among families.
A Future as a Human Services Major
A human services major will most often pursue social work, in positions such as family support workers, foster care case managers, and probation officers. They may work public health, substance abuse, mental health, and education, as well as other areas. And they may improve the lives of a variety of people, including children, victims of abuse, and the elderly. Some human services majors may choose to pursue graduate degrees in social work; marriage and family therapy; family studies; child development; and educational counseling.
Employment for social and human service assistants is expected to grow much faster than the average for all other occupations. The average yearly wages for assistants were $30,100, according to a 2010 survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, social workers who attain a bachelor’s degree generally received higher salaries, a sign that pursuing the undergraduate degree may be advantageous. In addition, the salaries of social workers can vary, as those who work in schools earn higher yearly wages on average than those who work with substance abuse victims. Child, family, and school social workers earned $43,850 on average, while mental health and substance abuse social workers earned $41,880 on average. Of course, all salary varies based on field, skill, experience, and employer, and neither job availability nor salary are guaranteed.
Students with a degree in Human Services are considered well prepared for
becoming Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.