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What is a degree in Human Services and what is it worth to me?

Updated on June 29, 2011

What is human services

A degree in human service will prepare a student for a variety of jobs involved in working with others. Careers available with this type of degree not only include the traditional counseling and social work category but many jobs in the private sector such as managers and administrators or human resource managers will accept a degree in human services to meet their educational requirement. This makes a human service degree one of the most versatile available.

What can I do with a Human Services Degree?

The term human service worker include a variety of professions such as case workers, program coordinaters, couselors or advocates.It is essentially the basis of any job that focuses on helping others. The National Organization for Human Services's definition states that the profession is one that promotes improved delivery systems of service by addressing the quality of direct services and seeking to imporve accessibility, accountability and coordination among professionals and agencies. A human service worker may work for a corporation, government, public or private agency. Many people think of a degree in human services as applying only to jobs with-in the realm of social work such as counselors, caseworkers or advocates. A degree in human services may also apply to corporate jobs such as program managers, administrators or human resources. A degree in the human sevices profession essentially means that you have specialized in assisting others in one form or another therefore it's applications in terms of job opportunities are endless. It also means that it is a good base degree in which to start in light of the many fields of specialization it can be applied to.

What kind of a degree do I need?

The decision concerning your choice of degree in terms of the human service field may be confusing. Human service degrees have become increasing specialized in recent years because Federal and State requirements vary. In addition insurance companies now also require a certain level of education as a requirement for reimbursement of services. The level of degree required to fulfill the requirements of a specific job will vary according to the job and even the state you reside in. Furthermore additional certification or licenses may be required in order to satisfy the employment qualification in some areas. A student investigating the field of human services with a specific job or specialty in mind would be wise to contact someone with in that field or the state licensing board to determine exactly what will be required of them in terms of education to satisfy the state or federal regulations regarding that particular position.

Generally, a person hoping to work as counselor in a supervised setting or as a job coach will be requred to have a Bachelor's degree which may include basic licensing depending on your state. A masters degree will be required of individuals hoping to go into private practice or who intend to work for some government or social service agencies and an individual interested in teaching at a university or college will be required to obtain a PhD or PsyD.

In terms of social work most states require at least a Bachelors degree in Social work as well as certification from the Association of Social Works Boards(ASWB). A Master's Degree is considered the industry standard, though.

Licensing Requirements vary from state to state as well but in general the basic requirements according to the ASWB for license requirements are as follows:

  • Bachelor's Exam or Basic Exam requires a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited school
  • Master Exam or Intermediate Exam requires a Master's degree in from an accredited school with no experience required.
  • Advanced Generalist Organization requires a Master's degree with two years of supervised experience and the Clinical exam requires a Master's degree with two years clinical social work experience.

How may jobs are available and what kind of income am I looking at?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statics the job opputunities available with a degree in human services is projected to increase by 23 % to 40 % thrugh 2018. This makes this degree am excellent choice in terms of job prospects. Another consideration may be the variety of job categories available to a person with this degree. The variety of job opputunities available with a degree in human services vary from jobs in the private sector as well as jobs in federal, state or local governments. The core curriculum requirements of this degree allows for a base in terms of specialized training applicable into a number of fields including anything from mangerial positions to health care, education, criminology or the more traditional social work and counseling professions. Income potential for this reason is varied as well depending if a person is employed by the private secter or a governmental agency. In general though A person achiving an Associates degree could expect to earn approxiamaetly $28,450 . A person obtaining a Bachelor's degree could expect to earn around $57,100 depending on the level of specialization and the job, while a Masters degree in social work may increase your earning potential to $90,500 per year (pay scale salary reports). Keep in mind though that these figures are simply averages and your individual earnings will vary greatly in regards to your expereince and specialty as well as state you reside in.

All and all a degree in a human service field will allow a student great latitude in regard to future educational and career prospects. It is a field of study projected to increase for years to come. The income potential is not as great as many other fields however in light of the current job market a student would be wise to consider factors regarding job growth expectations as well as marketability of the degree across a wide field of job oppurtunies. A degree promising great income potential is of no use if the person is unable to get a job in that field.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Thanks for inuncdtoirg a little rationality into this debate.

    • profile image

      Stay Calm 

      4 years ago

      I think you can continue to get your Masters in OT, then get your Ph.D in Rehabilitation Services look into stony Brook in NY or other institution. God luck.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I was encouraged to get a BS in human services management. However, it does not and will not lead to any career that pays well. My intention was and is to help those in need. This degree, as I get closer to graduation is a huge waste of time. Get one that is specified to a field of counseling or social work, and do not waste your time, money, or effort. I am disappointed in my school, and myself for falling for the bull.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am in my last term of studying for my MAsters Degree in Human Services/Health and Wellness and I am hoping to pursue a career working with the aging population. I just hope and pray that I can find a career job in this field.

    • wendi_w profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you David , comments from people working in the field w Much of the information I found as well as the statistics lack this type of reality based interpretation

    • wendi_w profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you for taking the time to post a comment there is much confusion and even more bad information out there regarding degrees and the world of academics

    • wendi_w profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you for your comments it is always helpful to hear from those in the real world in regards to making a decions

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a BS in Human Services it's pretty useless but I did well got a MS in Occupational Therapy so no complaints. If you do Human Services look into OT its an area of has a massive shortage I make 80K a year.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have worked in the field of social work (with an actual social work degree - an MSW). I will say, while the Human Service degree is very flexible and easy to get - from what I have observed professionally and academically it is not a very highly valued degree. Typically the people who do well with it are ones who are already working in their career and just need to get their bachelor or masters degree to get a promotion. Most states will also not license you to practice or be reimbursed by insurance - if these degrees were not so expensive it wouldn't matter, but I advise people to seek out degrees that truly advance their careers and not ones that are the easiest to obtain.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Expand your horizon, Think outside of the box. It is very important not to limit yourself. Do not let the degree define you, define the degree. You are able to do whatever you put your mind to. Further educate yourself and maximize your resources. I have a great job earning great income. I am currently approaching my AAS in Human Services. Opportunities are endless, jus be sure to be mindful of your potential. I study Human Services because it relates to everything I value, and respect. When your heart is in it, you'll know. You gain more when you focus more on values than money.

    • wendi_w profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Midwest

      I would tend to agree Bobbie in regards to the income potential, I checked a number of sources and they were all in the same areas, though I think much of it depends on the area of the country you are in. As far as the type of jobs available with a human service degree as stated there is a huge variance depending on your locale regarding that as well. In some areas a basic Associates in Human Services is the only requirement for many supervisory positions and in rural mid-western states you may even be able to get an entry level social workers job. It all depends where you are and the experience you bring

    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Well MY Human Service degree Never offered jobs above the ones quoted for AAS degrees. Human services does not pay well because society does not value it. Sad but true. Those high figures are for government workers perhaps or the bad facts the Internet offers. In Real life..............however.

    • HattieMattieMae profile image


      7 years ago from Europe

      This is what I started with and can't agree more, It covers more territory! Many more options and you can move around. Think it does just depend on what state and what credentials you need as a social worker like you said. You are pretty limited with psychology and social work, but blending the Human Service with other things you have more many options.


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