The human service industry is comprised of a wide range of fields such as law and justice, social services, mental health counseling, and housing assistance; allied health and public and alternative education; and policy making or advocacy at the local state or national levels.
Human services workers address problems that impact peoples' social, occupational, health, and educational functioning and offer services and resources to assist individuals, groups, and families with human needs and in improving their overall well-being and quality of life.
- Client assessment
- Conflict resolution, negotiating and persuading
- Providing emotional support and motivating others
- Interviewing for pertinent information
- Guiding people in acquiring developmental skills and coping strategies for dealing with problems, such as dependencies, life adjustments, relationships issues, cognitive distortions and behavioral problems.
- Maintaining confidentiality
- Developing goals and objectives
- Writing case notes
Degrees and Certifications
Specialized certifications are available or required for working in certain human services positions such as substance abuse. It is extremely important to research the degree and certification requirements for job positions.
How to Get Started
- Volunteer with the Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Program in University Career Services.
- Keep up with news and trends related to the human services industry.
- Set up informational interviews with counselors in your field of interest.
- Get involved in a student organization to build your leadership skills:
- National Organization for Human Services
- Northern Virginia Human Services
- National Association for Social Workers
- About.com: What is a Social Worker?
- Northern Virginia Community Services Board
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- Get involved in a student organization such as Active Minds to build your leadership skills
- Conduct research with a faculty member on a topic that relates to Human Services/Psychology
- Idealist: search for human services postings
- Participate in Take a Patriot to Work to shadow an human services professional. If the available dates do not work for you, utilize Mason Career Link via HireMason to find professionals who are willing to host a job shadow.
- HireMason: Conduct an advanced search by industry (Human Services)
- Child & Family Services
- Indeed Human Services
- Social Service .Com
There are two main types of Social Workers: direct-service social workers, who help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives, and clinical social workers, who diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issue
Psychologists study mental processes and human behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people and other animals relate to one another and the environment.
Social and Human Service Assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They help other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.
Health Educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop programs and materials to encourage people to make healthy decisions.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists work with and monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes
Psychiatric Technicians and Aides care for people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. The two occupations are related, but technicians typically provide therapeutic care, and aides help patients in their daily activities and ensure a safe, clean environment.
Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.
Registered Nurses provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.
Rehabilitation Counselors help people with emotional and physical disabilities live independently. They help their clients overcome personal, social, and professional effects of disabilities as they relate to employment or independent living.
Charlotte Strauss, Human Services Industry Advisor
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