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.

Skills

Skills needed for a career in human services
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Client assessment
  • Counseling/facilitating
  • 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

Degree, certification, and licensure information
Many people who work in human services hold degrees in health, psychology, social work, or similar degrees which focus on helping people, however many organizations will hire entry-level employees with unrelated degrees.

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. 

Licensure Information 

Educational Information

How to Get Started

4 steps to get you started in human services
  1. Volunteer with the Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Program in University Career Services.
  2. Keep up with news and trends related to the human services industry.
  3. Set up informational interviews with counselors in your field of interest.
  4. Get involved in a student organization to build your leadership skills:

Resources

Research, get experience, and get connected to contacts in human services
Industry Research

Experiential Learning

  • Apprenticeships
  • 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.

Job Search

Professional Associations

Job Functions

Social Workers

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

School and Career Counselors

School Counselors help students develop social skills and succeed in school. Career Counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions by helping them choose a career or educational program.

Psychologists

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

 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

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

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists work with and monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

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

Psychiatrists are physicians who diagnose, treat, and help prevent disorders of the mind.

Registered Nurses (RNs)

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

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.

Resume Sample

Meet Your Industry Advisor

Charlotte Strauss

Charlotte Strauss, Human Services Industry Advisor
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