If you are interested in pursuing a career in Human Services then you may be asking yourself, “What are Human Services jobs?” or “What can I do with a degree in Human Services?” An accelerated, online degree with Ottawa University can prepare you for a wide variety of careers in human services. Our Human Services faculty has hands on experience in all these arenas and can provide experienced insight in any career choice.

What are Human Services Jobs?

The career outlook for human and social service workers is intriguing. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor, jobs in human services are expected to grow 17% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Below are a few examples of the wide variety of careers in Human Services that an education with Ottawa University prepares you for.

Substance Abuse Counselor

This is a growing field in Human Services. Substance Abuse Counselors can choose to work in an outpatient clinic where clients are seen weekly. They can also choose to work in an inpatient setting where the client will live in a supportive group environment usually for 3-6 months while they deal with their addiction as well as the issues that enhanced their using behavior. Hospitals also employ substance abuse counselors for short term treatment while patients detox in a medical setting. Demand for and compensation for human service workers in this field has increased substantially over the past ten years. Ottawa offers a bachelors degree in addiction counseling and a masters in addiction counseling.

Nursing Home Social Worker

As medical science allows individuals to live longer, many require skilled care in assisted living facilities. Social Workers in these facilities assist clients and families in understanding services and care provided. They often also coordinate fun activities both at and outside the facility. This can include arranging for volunteers to come to the facility to teach yoga or crafts or arranging bus trips to local museums or community theatres. Ottawa University provides opportunities for field placement in this type of facility so students can see if it fits their interest.

Community Care Social Workers for Seniors

For seniors that can stay in their own home with some assistance, these social workers provide coordination of those services to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Families so appreciate the peace of mind that someone else is helping ensure safety for their loved one.

School Counselor

This can be as challenging as it is a rewarding position. Although some school counselors are assigned to grade schools, the majority deal with Middle Schools and High Schools. With the increase of bullying, the need for counseling within the school setting has also increased. School counselors work with students in groups to help develop coping skills and well as individuals dealing with issues of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

Community Youth Services

Unfortunately, all one needs to do is look at the news to see the overwhelming need for direct services for problem youth in our communities. With the added component of social media, we know that cyber bullying and other pressure can lead to teen violence as well as depression and suicide. An individual with a Bachelors in Human Services is an invaluable asset to community centers and youth organizations trying to intervene with this population

Domestic Violence Services

Although family violence is not a new phenomenon, communities are working to create a more effective response and intervention to this problem. Police are now working closely with Human service professionals with coordinated responses to calls regarding Domestic Violence. Those with a Human Service s degree are called upon as victim advocates by the courts to help support the victim through any legal proceedings as well as providing ongoing support to the family. This is a very rewarding career for many with a Bachelors Degree in Human Services.

Careers with Developmental Disability Agencies

As with aging adults, recent advances in services have allowed more persons with developmental disabilities to receive services within their homes and communities vs. hospital or rehabilitation centers. Again, this allows someone in the human services field to develop an individualized plan for these clients intellectual or physical limitations to receive support to reach their highest potential within the community. Again, a very rewarding career for those who embrace this special population.

Child Protective Services Social Worker

This is usually a position within state or county government which means not only a good salary but substantial benefits. The opportunity for promotion is also a perk with these positions. The work is difficult and demanding however the rewards are significant. This position requires knowledge of state codes and statutes and the child protection worker is often required to testify in court regarding a parent’s care of their child. The worker then makes recommendations on interventions to help the family.

Hospital Social Worker

This specialized field focuses on helping patients and their families cope with medical concerns both short and long term. Some of your skills may include offering comfort to a parent whose child has been diagnosed with cancer, offering hope to a family with a love one involved in an auto accident, or providing discharge planning for an elderly individual entering assisted living. You work as a team member with medical staff ensuring quality care for patients.

Mental Health Counselor

Over the last few years and especially since the worldwide pandemic, society more fully recognizes the effects of depression, anxiety, and social isolation. The internet has taken off with information on these topics and many are recognizing the importance of seeking help from professionals. Thus, the need and compensation for outpatient mental health providers are increasing daily.

Community Advocate

Many vulnerable and at-risk populations look to advocates in their community to work with developers to provide safe housing and equal opportunities in the housing market. The term food desert describes inner-city areas with no access to fresh produce or other healthy food. Advocates can reach out to grocery corporations for resources such as mobile fresh food markets etc.

Residential Treatment Center Worker

Many teens have acted out to the point where they are no longer safe in the community. Treatment Center Workers provide mentoring and counseling to this population for anywhere from 3-12 months usually. These youth have not developed anger control techniques or are a danger to themselves or others. Again, a challenging yet rewarding career where intense intervention in a residential setting can make a great difference in the life of these youth.

Can You Be a Counselor With a Human Services Degree?

Students often wonder, can you be a counselor with a human services degree? Our students usually begin their journey with either a bachelors degree in Human Services or a bachelors degree in addiction counseling. They then continue their education with a masters in counseling or a masters in addiction counseling.

Posted: 09/01/2020

Updated: 01/10/2022 by Mary Alice Grosser, MSW
By Erin Wheeler
Erin Wheeler Career Consultant