Social Work and Human Services
BS in Human Services
|Careers in Human Services|
Department of Social Work and Human Services
Human Services Careers
Human Services: Making a Difference in People's Lives
The field of Human Services is a broadly defined one, uniquely approaching the objective of 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 by also seeking to improve accessibility, accountability, and coordination among professionals and agencies in service delivery.
Where Human Service Workers Work
Working conditions vary. Human services workers in social service agencies (e.g., Division of Family and Children's Services) generally spend part of the time in the office and the rest of the time in the field. Most work a 40-hour week. Some evening and weekend work may be necessary, but compensatory time off is usually granted.
Human services workers in community-based settings (e.g., Homeless Shelters)move around a great deal in the course of a workweek. They may be inside one day and outdoors on a field visit the next. They, too, work a standard 40-hour week.
Human services workers in residential settings (e.g., Substance Abuse Treatment Centers) generally work in shifts. Because residents of group homes need supervision in the evening and at night, 7 days a week, evening and weekend hours are required.
Despite differences in what they are called and what they do, human services workers generally perform under the direction of professional staff. Those employed in mental health settings, for example, may be assigned to assist a treatment team made up of social workers, psychologists, and other human services professionals. The amount of responsibility these workers assume and the degree of supervision they receive vary a great deal. Some workers are on their own most of the time and have little direct supervision; others work under close direction.
Human services workers in community, residential care, or public and social services settings provide direct services such as leading a group, organizing an activity, or offering individual counseling. They may handle some administrative support tasks, too. Specific job duties reflect organizational policy and staffing patterns, as well as the worker's educational preparation and experience.
Because so many human services jobs involve direct contact with people who are impaired and therefore vulnerable to exploitation, employers try to be selective in hiring. Applicants are screened for appropriate personal qualifications. Relevant academic preparation is generally required, and volunteer or work experience is preferred.