Do you have a strong desire to help those in need? Are you patient, compassionate, and an effective communicator? If you believe you are meant to serve others, a career in human services may be for you.
Human services is a broadly defined field founded on the notion of helping others: helping them to meet their basic human needs, prevent and solve problems as they occur, and improve their overall quality of life. The primary purpose of the human services worker, then, is to extend support to others (whether individuals, families, or communities) who are struggling and to help them renew their ability to function in society once again.
There are many ways that human services workers can go about this mission. There are many roles that human services workers can take on. There are many places and populations within the community that human services professionals fit in.
Part of the beauty of a human services career is the many options you will encounter upon entering the field. Everyone, in some shape or form, needs help. Every individual, organization, and population has their own unique needs. The client base for human services workers, therefore, is wide and vast. With a human services degree, you can work with many audiences.
Here are five of the diverse populations you can assist in a human services career:
1. Children and Families
Young children do not yet have the capacity to meet their fundamental needs. Oftentimes, they do not have a voice or are not heard within their home. Unfortunately, there are many cases today where children are not safe or properly cared for under their own roofs. There are also many cases where parents want to provide the most for their children, but do not have the resources to do so. This is where many human services workers come in.
If you choose to work in child welfare, your goal will be to improve family living situations. You will work directly with parents to improve their family’s home environment. This may mean finding them reliable child care, low-income housing, or applying for food stamps. In this specialization, you will also work directly with children to ensure they receive the best quality of life. This may include finding them a temporary or permanent home with a foster or adoptive family.
2. People Battling Addiction
Another population you may work with as a human service professional is those struggling with addiction. From people with gambling addictions to substance use disorders, you will work with a variety of individuals as they begin their path to recovery. You will help these clients locate rehab facilities or refer them to treatment centers that can best meet their needs. You may also help addicts implement treatment plans, build sober support networks, and find careers upon completing rehabilitation.
Many veterans have trouble re-adjusting to civilian life after coming home. Many struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Human services workers can help veterans navigate their transition back into society. Services for veterans may include finding housing, applying for jobs, re-building social skills, or seeking therapy or healthcare. If you choose this career path, you may also offer your services to those veterans who were physically disabled in war, teaching them how to cope and live independently.
4. Homeless People
Without access to the proper resources, homeless people are not able to meet their basic human needs. They are not always able to eat, sleep, or receive healthcare. They are not always equipped to find a job. Most often, those who are homeless need a boost. Human services workers do just this: they help those who are homeless find temporary or permanent housing, locate organizations that serve meals, develop the necessary skills for success, and help them secure jobs. In this type of position, you may also help your clients find therapy or treatment that will address their underlying motives for being homeless.
For immigrants, starting fresh is often a challenge. Many new immigrants do not know where to go or how to start life upon entering a new country. They need help adjusting to cultural differences, learning English, and finding resources such as housing, jobs, and healthcare. As a human services worker, this is where you would come in. You may help immigrants get established in their homes, in school, or in their careers. You may also refer immigrants to external services who can help them with legal paperwork or other administrative requirements along the way.
Human services workers serve clients from all walks of life – people of all different ages, genders, backgrounds, and cultures. And the number of people who rely on people in human services careers continues to grow. As the baby boomer population ages, the elderly will need more help. As viewpoints shift from jail time to rehabilitation for drug addicts, the demand for human services workers will rise. The list goes on.
These are just some of the many human services careers you may consider, some of the many populations you may work with, upon graduation. You may also work with the physically disabled, the mentally ill, domestic violence victims, criminals, and more as a human services professional.
All of these populations need dedicated, empathetic human services workers to help them get on the path to a better life. A Human Services education can prepare you to become one of the best.