difference between human services vs human resources

Human Services vs. Human Resources: What is the Difference Between These Career Paths?

Professionals and students alike think human services and human resources are interchangeable, as they sound so similar. While both career fields involve interacting with people and require excellent communication and interpersonal skills, there are several critical differences between human services and human resources.

In order to carve a career path, prospective college students should understand the differences between these two fields of study. For example, the field of human resources (HR) is a business discipline focused on managing people. At the same time, the human services field focuses on assisting people in need.

Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between human services and human resources and the steps you can take to enter these exciting careers.

What is Human Services?

Human services is a multidisciplinary field dedicated to enhancing the overall quality of life for various populations. It does this by fulfilling fundamental human needs, resolving societal problems, and improving the quality of their environments.

Human services can also refer to occupations that serve society, particularly during vulnerability or disaster.

Individuals in human services often work in government extension offices, non-profit organizations, social service agencies, private clinics, hospitals, and mental health facilities.

As such, working in the human services field can mean dealing with sensitive cases, providing relief to disaster/abuse victims, and helping clients regain a sense of normalcy in their everyday lives.

What Jobs Are Available in the Human Services Field?

Various professions and careers fall under the human services field umbrella.

Some fields and roles include:

  • Social Service Worker
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Child Advocate
  • Youth Worker
  • Crisis Advocate
  • Substance Abuse/Rehabilitation Officer
  • Disaster Manager
  • Probation Officer
  • School Counselor
  • Mental Health Worker
  • Grief Counselor
  • Home Care Aide
  • Development Director
  • Job Coach
  • Corrections Counselor
  • Community Outreach Worker

While there is some office work in this field, most human service professionals work within a community or with specific populations through field visits. Therefore, field visits are essential to ensuring the well-being of individuals and groups in human services.

How Do I Become a Human Service Professional?

The educational path to enter the human services field often varies depending on the desired career path and specialty.

Many aspiring human service professionals will choose to start their journey with an associate or bachelor’s degree in Human Services. Degrees in psychology, social work, counseling, public health, sociology, criminal justice, and counseling are also popular for candidates interested in this field. A bachelor’s degree or higher is recommended for more advanced roles in this line of work.

Ultimately, make sure the human services degree program you choose will prepare you to:

  • Perform intakes and assessments
  • Conduct interviews and counseling
  • Provide case management
  • Practice with professionally recognized ethics, values, and cultural competencies
  • Understand the psychology of individuals and groups
  • Provide effective advocacy to in-need populations

What is Human Resources?

Also known as human resource management or personnel management, human resources (HR) is a specialized business discipline where HR professionals recruit and manage an organization’s personnel.

HR management is one of the most critical departments in every business or organization as they manage, develop, and oversee a company’s human capital (i.e., the employees and the created knowledge and training required for these workers).

Responsibilities and duties of HR professionals include:

  • Recruiting candidates for open positions
  • Managing employee relations
  • Administering benefits and compensation programs
  • Maintaining employment records and processing paperwork
  • Coordinating development and training programs to help employees upskill on the job
  • Fostering a safe workplace and developing a solid company culture

What Jobs Are Available in the HR Field?

HR specialists work for companies in office settings in practically every industry and in organizations of all shapes and sizes, from manufacturing to healthcare and government.

Aspiring HR professionals can explore the following careers:

  • HR Specialist
  • Benefits Specialist
  • Policy Agent
  • Chief HR officer
  • Vice President of People and Culture
  • Talent Manager
  • Recruiter
  • Director of HR

As an HR professional, you will likely have meetings with employees and leadership, manage paperwork, work through conflicts, and hold training for new and current employees.

How Do I Become a Human Resource Professional?

Most HR departments and employers looking to hire require an undergraduate or graduate degree in Business, with a Human Resource Management focus.

A Business degree with a concentration in Human Resource Management is a great pathway to launch an HR career, providing a foundation in business as well as an understanding of employment law. Additionally, this option will prepare candidates to effectively deal with the complexities and challenges of managing today’s workforce in business, government, and non-profit organizations and settings.

Look for programs that will ensure you:

  • Learn how to identify staffing needs
  • Develop skills for recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and developing employees
  • Learn the policies, procedures, and legal aspects of HR management

Some students also explore programs in organizational development, labor relations, or business administration.

Human Services vs. Human Resources: Which Career Should I Pursue?

Both human services and HR are rewarding, in-demand fields with abundant job opportunities and ample career growth. And while both deal directly with people, we have determined they have different career outcomes.

If you enjoy helping those in need, consider yourself empathy-driven and hard-working, and can handle the emotional challenges of this career, a human services occupation may be the best choice.

Other skills human service professionals have are:

  • Strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Active listening
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Patience

On the other hand, if you enjoy managing people, playing the role of mediator and organizer, thinking analytically, and collaborating to solve problems from a business perspective, a career in HR would suit you best.

Additional skills required of HR professionals are:

  • Strong administrative and organizational skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Strong sense of integrity and ethics
  • Training and developmental skills
  • Leadership
  • Conflict resolution
  • Team building
  • Detail-oriented

Whatever your professional path, you will enjoy an enriching and fulfilling career.

Goodwin University offers both pathways to a career in human services and human resources. With our career-focused programs, flexible schedules, affordability, and support services, we will ensure you are supported every step of the way in your college studies and your future career.

Classes are offered daytime, evenings, and even weekends with on-campus, online, and hybrid formats available for our degrees so you can tailor your degree to fit your busy schedule. Financial aid is also available.

Reach out today to learn about our human services and human resources programs. We’re ready when you are!