Top 6 Jobs for Human Services Majors

Human Service Professional with PatientSome of the most rewarding careers are seeing job growth above the national average

Human services majors have a bounty of fields and specializations open to them. Jobs for human services graduates include careers working with the elderly, children, youth, families and individuals. They work with people who have various backgrounds and needs. They may work with indigent and at-risk populations, patients who suffer from addiction and compulsive behaviors, patients with mental illness, terminally ill patients, physically handicapped patients, clients with past trauma, the unemployed or underemployed and many, many others. In fact, most people could benefit from the assistance of a human services worker at one point or another in their lives.

We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a few of the most common careers for human services professionals. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should serve to give you a general understanding of the types of work done by human services workers.

All statistics are courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Probation officer

Job growth: faster than average
Median pay: $47,200

Probation officers work with people who have been convicted of a crime. These particular individuals have been permitted to serve a probationary time as opposed to incarceration. That means they are under the supervision of a probation officer who monitors the offender’s progress and behavior to ensure they meet the conditions of their parole.

Probation officers often encounter difficult clients. The individuals probation officers meet with are court-ordered to do so; they are not seeking assistance of their own accord. Probation officers need to have thick skin for this reason.

The main goal for probation officers is to help rehabilitate offenders and prevent future crimes from happening. They meet with clients, friends and families to discuss and develop treatment plans, refer clients to other community resources that may help, keep detailed records of client progress and provide assistance to clients who need help filling out paperwork associated with their situation. This may include applications for housing, court documents and other legal requests.

Grant writer

Job growth: varied by region
Median pay: $25,000 – $65,000

Grant writers are a special case within the world of human services. Not only do grant writers need to have a passion for human service organizations at the work they do, but they must possess strong technical writing skills.

Grant writers are responsible for penning proposals for funding. The audience for these requests may be individual donors, corporate sponsors or government programs. Grant writers must be comfortable with dense, high-level technical writing. Grant requests are not meant to appeal to emotion, but rather provide a business plan and goal for the organization requesting funding.

Substance abuse counselor

Job growth: faster than average
Median pay: $38,120

Substance abuse counselors are not psychologists or psychiatrists. They do not prescribe medicines to patients. Most do not even work one-on-one with clients. They do, however, work alongside psychologists and psychiatrists to treat individuals suffering from addiction and other compulsive behaviors.

These human services workers may lead group therapy, support groups, 12-step programs or awareness classes. Occasionally they may meet with family members and friends to discuss treatment options or hold interventions for clients.

Program director

Job growth: faster than average
Median pay: $57,950

Program directors should have business sense as well as knowledge in the human services field. They are responsible for assessing unmet needs in the community and developing initiatives to address those needs. Program directors are also supervisors; they oversee the individuals who run the daily operations of programs within their jurisdiction. They are also responsible for setting and monitoring the budget.

Case manager

Job growth: faster than average
Median pay: $60,000

Case managers are the workers responsible for keeping track of patient and client progress. This includes documenting new developments, improvements or setbacks in the patient’s condition, changes in care, new treatment options that have been developed and more. Case managers work in a variety of settings, including healthcare and other human services settings. They work with clients and their families to develop a course of action and acquire needed services (such as housing or government assistance). The main goal for a case manager is to help clients achieve a better quality of life through the use of available methods and resources, including therapy, medication and advocacy.

Child advocate

Job growth: faster than average
Median pay: $54,000

Contrary to popular belief, child advocacy is not only about intervention of Child Protective Services into family affairs. Child advocates aim to protect children from harm. This includes physical, emotional and mental harm. The main issues they focus on include obesity, malnutrition, homelessness and abuse. In the majority of scenarios, child advocates work with the entire family to help allocate and obtain resources that will benefit the child. They may work in schools, private practice or in politics as lobbyists and activists.


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