A Career Guide to Human Services

Whether you’re just graduating high school or are looking for a rewarding second career, human services may be a subject you’re leaning towards at degree level.

However, understanding what human services is and how it differs from other care-based subjects like social work is key to determining if the career prospects are right for you.

This guide should help with that.


What are human services?

Those who pursue a career in human services are driven by a need to help and serve others. The career focuses on promoting wellbeing and an improved quality of life to those most vulnerable.

A human services degree opens up a wide selection of doors in terms of career possibilities and gives you the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you and other communities.

A career in human services is often very rewarding and may lead to more advanced roles like working in social care or counseling.

What’s the difference between human services and social work?

From the above description, human services can seem pretty similar to social work – making it difficult to understand which degree subject to choose. So, what sets these topics apart?

The main difference between the two is the course focus. While sociology degrees focus more on the educational side – potentially leading into a career in research, teaching, for example – human services focus more on the physical work and experience.

Also, those that study sociology will likely need to take a licensure exam or specialize in certain areas, depending on the type of career they want to follow. A human service specialist is more of an assistant or advocate for healthcare fields, so you won’t need licensing to work.

Day to day, studying these two topics may be quite similar, as both will dive into the topics of psychology and practical work and take a similar time to complete.

That said, social workers aim to provide assistance to vulnerable or disadvantaged individuals – be that assistance with financial difficulties, mental health, or physical aid. The aim is to help people regain some of their own independence and control of their lives.

On the other hand, human services tend to lead to more managerial or psychological roles such as case managers or therapists.

What can I do with a human services degree?

There are plenty of opportunities for those studying for a human services degree. Some jobs may require additional qualifications, however, especially if you’re looking to work with a specific demographic or group of vulnerable individuals.

Whichever progression route you take, you’ll likely find that the work is both challenging and hugely rewarding – making going to work every day a little bit more bearable.

School social worker

Perhaps one of the most vulnerable groups you can work with is school children. As a school social worker, you’ll get to help and support students through emotional and physical challenges, giving them the best chance of staying on track and achieving everything they deserve.

Community health worker

If you’ve grown up in a less-than-privileged area, you may be determined to make things better for others. Community health workers work within high-risk communities to help those struggling connect with the services or organizations they need.

You’ll serve as both an advocate and outreach professional, helping vulnerable families and individuals with securing housing, food, or other resources.


Human Services is an alternative to studying psychology for those that would like to pursue a career in counseling.

As a counselor, you’ll be involved with essential work that helps vulnerable members overcome mental illness, substance abuse, addiction, or even domestic abuse.

Alternatively, you may be able to work as a marriage counselor, helping families get back on their feet when tensions rise.

Counseling is an incredibly rewarding role that will see you face different challenges every day.

Child welfare

If you want to work with children, but perhaps not restricted within the school setting, a child welfare advocate is another interesting job available after you’ve studied a human services degree.  You’ll work with both children and their families to ensure the child’s best interests are kept.

Grant writer

Becoming a grant writer is a less hands-on role with just as much importance. You’ll be responsible for writing applications or grant queries to human service organizations when non-profits seek funding. You’ll need to be able to write professional and compelling copy to secure funding for important initiatives in the community.

Home health worker

On the other side of the spectrum to working with children, seniors are another vulnerable group you could end up working with.

Home health workers support seniors in the challenges that come with aging. You’ll work to help those struggling with physical or mental health maintain their independence.

Job demand for human services

You’ll be secure for future employment with a human services degree, as the types of roles you can pursue are always in high demand.

According to the BLS, by 2029, there will be an additional 17,000 health educator and community health jobs. Other human services jobs will also enjoy an increase in demand, with up to 70,000 new positions available.

What’s more, you’ll learn a huge number of transferrable skills with a human services degree that will put you in good stead to follow any person-centered career. You may also find your skills are useful in managerial, business roles.

Is human services the right choice for me?

Finding the perfect degree is not easy. However, if you love working with people and meeting people from all walks of life, you’ll fit right in on a human services degree course. You’ll learn all about psychology and human interaction and use this knowledge to help others.

To succeed in your career, you’ll also need to handle stressful situations well, as there may be difficult decisions to make or challenges to overcome. It’s also worth knowing that human services and social work don’t tend to be lucrative careers – so if you’re looking for a high-paying degree and career, you may want to look for different routes.

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