Human Services vs. Social Work: What’s the Difference?

Do you have a passion for helping others? Are you caring, patient, and have excellent communication skills? Do you feel like you have a calling to serve your fellow man in need? If so, a career in human services may be perfect for you!

When you think about a career in helping children, veterans, the homeless, or those battling addiction, “social work” may be the field that comes to mind. But a career in human services is more likely to be what you’re looking for. While there are some similarities between these two very important social service careers, there are also many differences. In this article, we’ll explore these two vital fields, how they differ and compare, and why Goodwin College’s human services degree program is a great choice for those looking to make a difference in the lives of others.

Social Work

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. While some social workers only need a bachelor’s degree in their field for social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and two years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice. Those in the field of social work focus on the effort to empower and enable people in everyday situations. Social justice is a main priority of the social work field, and those who study it are often working with those directly affected by disenfranchisement and other complex social problems. For example, you may find a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) working in a mental health facility, a college or university, or at a child welfare agency.

Human Services

The field of human services is a broad one, encompassing a variety of different, in-demand careers. It’s an all-encompassing path for those interested in making a difference. The primary focus of a human services worker is to extend support to others – whether it’s individuals, families, or communities – who are struggling and help them to return to proper status in society once again. Human service workers take the lead with big picture projects, working toward the greater good by – often times – filling managerial roles and overseeing projects for their agency. There are hundreds of different positions you can fill with an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in human services, many diverse demographics you can work with, and a substantial amount of specialties you can pursue. Some of the careers include:

  • Child Protective Services Specialist
  • Community Outreach Worker
  • Gerontology Aide (Caring for the elderly)
  • Life Skills Counselor
  • Rehabilitation or Substance Abuse Counselor

The Difference

A human services professional focuses on the bigger picture. Social workers often work directly with clients to carry out social programs. As a human services worker, you may work as an administrator in an advocacy organization, which help support underserved communities. You will help individuals and communities gain access to basic needs, such as food and shelter, and will do so by working in at an administrative level.

There is great opportunity for those interested in a career in human services. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of human service assistants to grow 16 percent in the next eight years – much faster than the average for all occupations! Our growing elderly population may be the reason for this anticipated job growth.

If you’re a planner, or think you would succeed in career devoted to giving back through a role of supervision and research, a career in human services may be the perfect fit for you! There is a variety of work in the human services field. Goodwin College offers both Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree programs in this area of study. The following list breaks down some of the careers our graduates of both programs have gone on to pursue careers in:

BS Human Services:

  • Case Manager
  • Community Outreach Worker
  • Counselor
  • Crisis Advocate
  • Intake and Interviewing Specialist
  • Mental Health Associate
  • Probation Officer
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Youth Worker

AS Human Services:

  • Case Manager
  • Corrections Counselor
  • Counselor
  • Job Coach
  • Probation Assistant
  • Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Social Service Specialist
  • Youth Worker

Interested in learning more about getting your Human Services education at Goodwin College? Learn more today by calling 800-889-3282. Launch or change the direction of your life path by earning a degree that will make a difference and cater to your busy life.