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The Complete Guide to a Human Services Degree 

by Altaf Shaikh
The Complete Guide to a Human Services Degree 

A human services degree is a great education option for people who have a desire to help people and improve their community. The degree aims to equip students with the relevant skills so that they are comfortable providing a service to a variety of clients through public outreach organizations. 

The graduates of the degree end up working alongside social workers, detectives, doctors and other individuals, whose main career goal is to help and provide aid to those who are tackling major issues within their lives. Helping others is a fundamental component of what makes people human, so if you have always had the urge to help improve other people’s lives and have a desire to make a difference, then this degree could be one tailor-made for you. Even those who want to get into business can benefit by this course as business is mostly a matter of human service after all. 

There are so many different options people can get involved with after being awarded a human services degree, which makes for a diverse and distinctly unique career path. This path can encompass helping financially devastated individuals navigate an economic downturn, or aiding in the response to natural disasters. Employment demand is also there for people with this degree as the US population is growing more dependent on different types of human services jobs, particularly the older generation, which is the country’s biggest demographic.

Types of Human Services Degrees

There is a whole host of different types of human services degree available, ranging from higher education, to more accessible courses. Each course has its own merits and entry criteria, meaning that each option has to be considered before you settle on one.

As well as the various types of degrees, there are now also different ways the course can be taken. Many human services degrees can be studied completely online, meaning that the course is a lot more accessible to people who previously didn’t have the capacity to attend a physical campus. With it being online, students can access their lessons and study resources whenever it’s best for them, meaning that they can progress through the degree at their own pace at a time frame that best suits their other commitments. This makes it perfect for a caregiver or a person in full-time employment who wants to obtain this qualification to improve their career prospects. 

There is also of course, the traditional on-campus method of obtaining the degree, which although may be more disruptive and requires you to be in a situation where you’re able to attend a campus, it does have the advantage of providing better networking opportunities and different types of teaching styles, such as the expected lectures, but also seminars, practical experience and guest speakers. 

As well as deciding how you want to study the degree, it’s also important how far you want to pursue your knowledge. That’s why there are foundational courses right up to higher educational courses – these allow students to obtain the standard of learning they want. These courses include: 

Certificate Program in Human Services

These are the most foundational courses in human services and they aim to give students a basic knowledge of the field. This is a great course to take if you want to expand your skill set and show employers that you’re interested and capable of learning new things, giving you a competitive edge in the job market. 

The length of these degrees varies, but because they provide a more basic level overview, they are a lot shorter than human services degrees. There’s also the potential to have the credits earned in this course transferred to a higher-level course, providing you stay at the same school. 

Some of the areas that this type of human services course will cover include crisis intervention, to help you understand how to deal with crisis events, marriage and family, to enable you to aid people struggling in relationships, sociology, social problems and theories of personality, which can help you better understand the many traits that make us human

Associate Human Services Degree 

This type of degree is a step above the certificate and is designed to give students specific knowledge and skills that are required for them to obtain most entry-level positions in the human services field. What makes this course different is that it includes sections where students gain real-life skills that can be used in a wide array of different roles, ranging from positions in advocacy organizations, governmental agencies, health facilities, non-profits and other types of groups. 

Although a lot of students prolong their studies and continue up the educational ladder, many may find that this associate degree is sufficient for their needs and the role they want to get into. Completing this degree can enable students to land a job quickly, as the course can be completed in as little as 18 months in various schools.

The degree usually focuses on a wide range of interpersonal and human conditions, preparing students for crisis counseling and intervention and case management. This course is far more skewed to psychology based than the previous one, as you engage with the main principles of sociology and psychology, developmental psychology as well as an introduction to social work. 

Bachelor’s Degree 

A bachelor’s human services degree is a more robust form of education in this field and requires four whole years to compete. Though it may seem like a long time, this means you are getting the most detailed and well-rounded education you can get, making sure that you’re well equipped for almost any role within the industry. 

The degree combines both specific career-related courses with broader ones to help create a diverse learning experience. The goal of this degree is to help students understand different cultures and populations and how to advocate for these cultures as well as families and individuals in need. 

If four years seems like far too long for people, then there is also a chance to progress faster through the course, proving you have an associates degree before signing on. This will allow you to complete the last two years in just 18 months, getting you in a position to obtain good quality work quicker than your peers. 

The kind of stuff that will be taught on the bachelor’s human services degree is similar to the associates degree, however, it goes into far more detail. The stuff you’ll learn includes social science research methods, public policy, sociology of social problems and lifespan development, to name a few highlights. The jobs this degree qualifies you for include addiction counselor, assisted living manager, outreach worker or a mental health worker, which are all wonderfully rewarding roles. 

Master’s Degree

The master’s human services degree is the perfect choice for people who are committed to trying to improve the lives of others and their communities. This is the highest level of education a person can obtain in the field of human services and allows students to focus more on their area of interest, so that they can become an expert in it and more easily land a career in that specified role. 

These focused sectors of the degree include conflict management, mental health, crisis intervention or community needs management. Earning this human services degree sets you up well to get a significant role within the sector and become an important figure within human services, allowing you to make more of a difference and help a greater deal of people. 

This degree can also help you improve other, related skills that can also be really useful, such as better written communication and research skills. You’re additionally learning how to assess community needs, which will make you better equipped to conduct program planning and reviews. 

Career Prospects 

The career prospects for a human services degree holder are plentiful, as there is a wide array of different roles and jobs you can get into. The roles are also very competitive in terms of their base salary, meaning that getting this degree can help you become more financially successful, with healthcare social workers receiving an average yearly wage of $59,300, which is pretty comfortable, more so than similar roles, such as nurses. 

Here’s a look at some of the more specific and common roles you can land after getting this qualification: 

Administrative Services Manager 

In this role, the individual will be responsible for overseeing and directing other professionals as they run entire agencies or temporary task forces at crisis events. One big aspect of this job is how these managers are often lobbying politicians or other funding officials to obtain funding for their cause or service. 

Administrators are very much involved in the financial side of their business, creating budgets and organizing cashflow so that they stay within these monetary guidelines. They also evaluate their other staff and coach them so that they can work more effectively. 

The role is best-suited for those who have received a bachelor’s human services degree, as well as some work experience in a related role or field. 

Child and Family Social Workers 

The main focus of a child and family social worker is to help vulnerable children and families stay safe and get out of bad situations. This can range from helping them access more affordable housing so that they have shelter, safety in the home to protect them from any violent or abusive individuals in their life, as well as to advocate for governmental benefits such as food stamps and housing assistance. 

All this is done to help give the child a better start to life and give them a better chance to get out of poverty and to have a better life as an adult. Most of this work is done through agencies that conduct a wide array of tasks such as supporting unemployed parents in their job searching process or teaching them how to take better care of their children. 

This type of social work can be obtained with a bachelor’s human services degree to get entry level positions, but more often than not it’s best to get a master’s human services degree if you’re interested in this field of work as it can help you become a clinical social worker because it proves you have experience in a supervised clinical setting. You also need to become licensed to be a social worker in every state of the United States, however, the requirements for licensing are different depending on the state you are in. 

Corrections Officers 

Becoming a corrections officer is a great role to get for those who have gotten a human services degree as they provide a really positive role helping past criminals recover from their experience. This role is designed to aid the offenders in their reintegration back into society. 

They help these ex-convicts dispel the negativity of their previous lives and aid in teaching them new skills so that they can adjust better and find work as they live as an honest civilian. Correction officers are also tasked with helping criminals during their stay in prison as well, meaning that the need to be able to navigate this environment effectively. Through the implementation of career skills workshops and behavior modification programs, these correction officers help inmates better acclimate to a crime-free life before their release date. 

To become a correction officer, individuals only need a high school diploma, and typically attend a training academy instead of going to college. However, some courses may be helpful to get, such as a human services degree as it can get you higher positions in this specific field. 

Substance Abuse Social Worker

Substance abuse social workers’ key aim is to help clients to either manage addiction or mental illness and eventually overcome it so that they’re not reliant on the substance anymore, helping them lead enriched lives. These workers help supply information and guide their clients through plans that are designed to help them maintain a basic standard of living. 

To get this role, you first need a bachelor’s human services degree, even for entry level positions. For anything higher, a master’s is required due to the clinical nature of the work. 

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