Why Work in Human Services?

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Human services is a broad academic and professional discipline that incorporates many different fields of practice, each aimed at helping people meet essential needs, such as wellness, shelter and financial stability. By pursuing a master’s degree in human services, educated professionals can qualify themselves to enter a variety of professionally rewarding human services fields, such as mental health services, social services and community development. Why work in human services? Well, human services workers commit themselves to strengthening their communities and improving the quality of life for the most vulnerable in our society.

What Is Human Services? 

The professional side of human services includes a wide variety of practical disciplines, but at the academic level, studying human services means learning how to manage and administer interdisciplinary types of human services-related programs. Human services degree programs are designed to teach students what it means to provide high-quality care and support in specialized areas. Therefore, the Master of Arts in Human Services degree teaches students how to advocate for others while also preparing them for administrative roles in organizations that offer human services.

In many cases, graduates emerge from their master’s programs well equipped to recruit, train and manage employees; organize company finances; and evaluate the performance of their clinical teams. A human services professional who takes on an administrative role will still need an in-depth understanding of what his or her employees are doing and how well they are performing. To this end, human services work requires a deep understanding of human development, social and cultural foundations, and lifestyle development.

Human Services Professionals Benefit Whole Communities

To develop a better idea of why one should choose to work in human services, it helps to look at the impact that these professions have on communities. Working in human services is a mutually beneficial endeavor; by helping others improve their lives, people who choose this profession can enhance the quality of life in their communities and make a satisfactory living for themselves. With a degree in human services, graduates are also in a good position to provide direct assistance to individuals and families, as the coursework covers training in group and individual support tactics used at both novice and advanced levels of practice. For instance, through crisis management coursework, students learn how to think introspectively and use their own experience to help clients navigate the range of human emotions that might accompany tragedy or loss. Likewise, human services coursework prepares student professionals to help mend troubled family relationships , creating a stronger community-oriented foundation that acts as a catalyst to future prosperity.

Human Services Help People Achieve Self-Actualization

There are many avenues for a human services professional to take when aiming to improve people’s lives. Because these professionals must develop a vast understanding of how humans think, they have the skills to promote positive habits in their clients’ lives. For instance, by offering career development services, they can help their clients pursue satisfactory jobs and financial security. Similarly, human services specialists may offer group support and guidance to help families, teams and entire communities find common ground, allowing them to collaborate more effectively in the future. The primary goal within human services is to help people exceed their perceived limitations in social systems, thereby allowing them to reach new heights in their lives.

Is Human Services the Right Professional Environment for You?

Human services professionals have a far-reaching impact on society, as they can leverage their expertise to positively influence critical social factors, such as health care, homelessness and criminal justice. Yet it is important for people considering this occupation to think about the stress a human services career can entail. Interfacing with the public and helping individuals deal with their problems exposes human services workers to uncomfortable situations that may impact their own mental and emotional stability. Nevertheless, the fulfilling and rewarding aspects of the job will likely far outweigh these challenges.

Job Outlook for Human Services Professions

Social Work

Social workers provide essential services to disenfranchised individuals who lack access to necessities, such as food, health care and shelter. Their work consists of consulting with potential clients to determine whether their services could help them improve their quality of life. Examples of these services include basic programs, such as connecting people with mental disabilities to mental health services, as well as more complex ones, such as working with authorities to help abused or neglected children escape unsafe home environments. Upon earning a master’s degree in human services and gaining relevant experience, professionals should have a competitive edge when applying for administrative positions in social work agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 16 percent increase in the number of available social work positions between 2016 and 2026, meaning graduates will have substantial opportunities to find work in the field.

Human Resources

People are often businesses’ most important resource. Human resources specialists are tasked with coordinating employee recruitment, retention, training and development. Human resources departments typically have two overarching objectives: to protect their companies from legal liabilities and to advocate for the interests of the organization’s employees. In cases of harassment or abuse between colleagues, the human resources department reviews evidence and helps determine whether there should be a penalty. Similarly, human resources representatives engage with the workforce to ensure that all employees are being treated in a way that is fully compliant with the law, in order to avoid legal repercussions.

Interesting Trends That Are Reshaping Human Services

For those considering a career in human services, telemental health and predictive analytics will likely play a huge role in the industry. Telemental health is the practice of delivering mental health services using live video conferencing. This practice has emerged over the course of the last decade and has steadily grown in popularity over the years. Telemental health has opened a new avenue for human services providers to reach clients who might need their help but don’t have the ability to travel for assistance.

Likewise, predictive analytics—the process of analyzing data to make predictions about future events—have enabled human services professionals to record an array of detailed information about the services their organizations deliver, such as the success rates of social service interventions and the costs associated with delivering those services. Then, based on the trends they discover, they can predict how well those services will be received in the future and determine if their method of service delivery will offer the most desirable outcomes. Human services agencies are increasingly relying on these technologies to expand their reach and deliver their services more efficiently, and students who master them will have a leg up in this competitive profession.

Human services disciplines have a massively positive impact on society, but that isn’t the only reason to pursue a career in this field. Work in human services is a great option for individuals who want to do more than just study the human condition and would take pride in finding new ways to guide others toward improved lives. Through a Master of Arts in Human Services, students can gain the skills they need to find work advocating for people who would otherwise be left to solve overwhelming issues on their own.

Learn More

People who work in human services help whole groups of people improve their lives. To dedicate a professional career to making a difference takes compassion and a great academic background. Wake Forest University understands that busy human services professionals want to keep working while they learn and grow academically. Students can earn their master’s degree while working full time in their communities.

Recommended Reading
How the Pay-For-Success (PFS) Model Is Transforming Human Services
What Is Human Services?
10 Qualities of Great Community Leaders

National Organization for Human Services
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers
Social Work Today