Social and Human Service Assistants


Quick Facts: Social and Human Service Assistants
2017 Median Pay $33,120 per year 
$15.92 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 389,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 63,900

Join Nextstep Career Mentorship Programs for Social and Human Service Assistants with our partners:


Social and Human Service Assistants Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Social and Human Service Assistants Do

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

human services.jpg

Social and Human Service aSSISTANTS

Duties of Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants typically do the following:

  • Help determine what type of aid their clients need

  • Work with clients and other professionals, such as social workers, to develop a treatment plan

  • Help clients find assistance with daily activities, such as eating and bathing

  • Research services, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that are available to clients

  • Coordinate services provided to clients

  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs

  • Check in with clients to ensure that services are provided appropriately

Social and human service assistants have many job titles, including case work aideclinical social work aidefamily service assistantsocial work assistantaddictions counselor assistant, and human service worker.

Social and human service assistants help clients identify and obtain benefits and services. In addition to initially connecting clients with benefits or services, social and human service assistants may follow up with clients to ensure that they are receiving the intended services and that the services are meeting their needs. They work under the direction of social workerspsychologists, or other community and social service workers.

With children and families, social and human service assistants ensure that the children live in safe homes. They help parents get needed resources for their children, such as food stamps or childcare.

With the elderly, these workers help clients stay in their own homes and live under their own care whenever possible. Social and human service assistants may coordinate meal deliveries or find personal care aides to help with the clients’ day-to-day needs, such as running errands and bathing. In some cases, human service assistants help look for residential care facilities, such as nursing homes.

For people with disabilities, social and human service assistants help find rehabilitation services that aid their clients. They may work with employers to make a job more accessible to people with disabilities. Some workers find personal care services to help clients with daily living activities, such as bathing and making meals.

For people with addictions, human service assistants find rehabilitation centers that meet their clients’ needs. They also may find support groups for people who are dependent on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other substances or behaviors.

With veterans, assistants help people who have been discharged from the military adjust to civilian life. They help with practical needs, such as locating housing and finding ways to apply skills gained in the military to civilian jobs. They may also help their clients navigate the services available to veterans.

For people with mental illnesses, social and human service assistants help clients find the appropriate resources to help them cope with their illness. They find self-help and support groups to provide their clients with an assistance network. In addition, they may find personal care services or group housing to help those with more severe mental illnesses care for themselves.

With immigrants, workers help clients adjust to living in a new country. They help the clients locate jobs and housing. They may also help them find programs that teach English, or they may find legal assistance to help immigrants get administrative paperwork in order.

With former prison inmates, human service assistants find job training or placement programs to help clients reenter society. Human service assistants help former inmates find housing and connect with programs that help them start a new life for themselves.

With homeless people, assistants help clients meet their basic needs. They find temporary or permanent housing for their clients and locate places, such as soup kitchens, that provide meals. Human service assistants also help homeless people find resources to address other problems they may have, such as joblessness.


Work Environment for Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants held about 389,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of social and human service assistants were as follows:

Individual and family services: 27%

Nursing and residential care facilities: 14%

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: 12%

Community and vocational rehabilitation services: 10%

State government, excluding education and hospitals: 9%

Social and human service assistants work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, and shelters. Some travel around their communities to see clients.

Work Schedules for social and human service assistants

Most social and human service assistants worked full time in 2016, and about 1 in 5 worked part time. Some work nights and weekends.


How to Become a Social and Human Service Assistant

Requirements for social and human service assistants vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some employers require a criminal background check. Social and human service assistants also may need a valid driver’s license.

Education 

Although a high school diploma is typically required, some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. A certificate or an associate’s degree in a subject such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or social or behavioral science is becoming more common for workers entering this occupation.

Human service degree programs train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle people who are undergoing a crisis. Many programs include fieldwork to give students hands-on experience.

The level of education that social and human service assistants have completed often determines the responsibilities they are given. Those with a high school diploma are likely to do lower level work, such as helping clients fill out paperwork. Assistants with some college education may coordinate program activities or manage a group home.

TRAINING

Many social and human service assistants, particularly those without any postsecondary education, undergo a short period of on-the-job training. Because such workers often are dealing with multiple clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, on-the-job training in case management helps prepare them to respond appropriately to the different needs and situations of their clients.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Rehabilitation counselors need to be able to communicate effectively with clients. They must express ideas and information in a way that is easy to understand.

Communication skills. Social and human service assistants talk with clients about the challenges in their lives and assist them in getting help. These workers must be able to listen to their clients and to communicate the clients’ needs to organizations that can help them.

Compassion. Social and human service assistants often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Social and human service assistants must make their clients feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues. Assistants also build relationships with other service providers to become familiar with all of the resources that are available in their communities.

Organizational skills. Social and human service assistants must often complete lots of paperwork and work with many different clients. They must be organized in order to ensure that the paperwork is filed properly and that clients are getting the help they need.

Problem-solving skills. Social and human service assistants help clients find solutions to their problems. They must be able to listen carefully to their clients’ needs and offer practical solutions.

Time-management skills. Social and human service assistants often work with many clients. They must manage their time effectively to ensure that their clients are getting the attention they need.


salaries for Social and Human Service Assistants 

The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $33,120 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $53,380.

In May 2017, the median annual wages for social and human service assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $39,390

State government, excluding education and hospitals: $36,970

Individual and family services: $32,660

Community and vocational rehabilitation services: $29,380

Nursing and residential care facilities: $28,930


Job Outlook for Social and Human Service Assistants

Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and rising demand for social services is expected to drive demand for these workers.

An increase in the number of older adults is expected to result in growing demand for social services such as delivery of meals and adult daycare. Because social and human service assistants often arrange for these services, there will need to be more of them to meet this increased demand.

In addition, growth is expected as more people seek treatment for their addictions and more drug offenders are sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, demand should increase for social and human service assistants who work in treatment programs or work with people with addictions.

Job Prospects for social and human service assistants

Job prospects are expected to be good, but should be best for those with a related social or human service postsecondary degree.

Employment projections data for Social and Human Service Assistants, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 389,800

Projected Employment, 2026: 453,600

Change, 2016-2026: +16%, +63,800


Careers Related to social and human service assistants

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public.

Social Workers

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.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Childcare WorkersHigh school diploma or equivalent$22,290
Health Educators and Community Health Workers$45,360
Home Health Aides and Personal Care AidesHigh school diploma or equivalent$23,130
Marriage and Family TherapistsMaster's degree$48,790
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment SpecialistsBachelor's degree$51,410
Rehabilitation CounselorsMaster's degree$34,860
Social and Community Service ManagersBachelor's degree$64,100
Social Workers$47,980
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors$43,300

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social and Human Service Assistants,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm