A human services worker is a generic term for people with various job titles, such as social service assistant, case management aide, social work assistant, residential counselor, community support worker, alcohol or drug abuse counselor, mental health technician, child-care worker, community outreach worker, life skill counselor, and gerontology aide. They generally work under the direction of professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as nursing, psychiatry, psychology, rehabilitation, or social work. The amount of responsibility and supervision they are given varies a great deal. Some are on their own most of the time and have little direct supervision; others work under close direction.
The field of Human Services is broadly defined as meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations. The Human Services profession is one which promotes improved service delivery systems by addressing not only the quality of direct services, but also by seeking to improve accessibility, accountability, and coordination among professionals and agencies in service delivery.
Human services workers provide direct and indirect client services. They assess clients' needs, establish their eligibility for benefits and services, and help clients obtain them. They examine financial documents such as rent receipts and tax returns to determine whether the client is eligible for food stamps, Medicaid, welfare, and other human service programs. They also arrange for transportation and escorts, if necessary, and provide emotional support. Human services workers monitor and keep case records on clients and report progress to supervisors.
Human services workers may transport or accompany clients to group meal sites, adult daycare programs, or doctors' offices; telephone or visit clients' homes to make sure services are being received; or help resolve disagreements, such as those between tenants and landlords.
To become a human services worker, an education in one of the related fields of nursing or social work is needed. Most community colleges offer associate’s degrees in these fields, the first step to getting an entry level position in human services.
How much do human services workers earn?
Based on international statistics, starting salaries for human services workers ranged from about $ 28,000 to up to $ 45, 000. Experienced workers generally earned between $ 32,000 and $ 45,000 annually, depending on their education, experience, and employer.
Opportunities for human services workers are expected to be very good for qualified applicants. The number of human services workers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Also, the need to replace workers who retire or stop working for other reasons will create additional job opportunities. These jobs are not attractive to everyone due to the emotionally draining work and relatively low pay, so qualified applicants should have little difficulty finding employment.