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What Do Human Services Professionals Do?

Human services leaders have numerous career options.

Wherever there are people in need, there you will find human services professionals—dedicated individuals committed to changing lives and building healthier communities.

Human services jobs are embedded in institutions around the world. Social services professionals work in schools; hospitals and medical centers; and nonprofit, private, and government organizations, to name just a few of the job settings.

What Do Human Services Professionals Do?

“‘Human services professional’ is a generic term for people who hold professional and paraprofessional jobs in such diverse settings as group homes and halfway houses; correctional, intellectual disability, and community mental health centers; family, child, and youth service agencies; and programs concerned with alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence, and aging,” the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) says.1

“Depending on the employment setting and the kinds of clients served there, job titles and duties vary a great deal,” the NOHS continues. “The primary purpose of the human services professional is to assist individuals and communities to function as effectively as possible in the major domains of living.”1

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the largest employers of social and community service managers in the United States are:2

  • Individual and family services, 29%
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations, 11%
  • Local government, excluding education and hospitals, 11%
  • Nursing and residential care facilities, 10%
  • Community and vocational rehabilitation services, 9%

Within those diverse human services career settings, there are job responsibilities common to most social and community service managers, the BLS says. Social services professionals typically:3

  • Work with community members and other stakeholders to identify necessary programs and services.
  • Oversee administrative aspects of programs to meet the objectives of the stakeholders.
  • Analyze data to determine the effectiveness of programs.
  • Suggest and implement improvements to programs and services.
  • Plan and manage outreach activities to advocate for increased awareness of programs.
  • Write proposals for social services funding.

Human services salaries are variable, but in 2019, the BLS said median annual wages range between $61,920 for managers working in individual and family services and $85,550 for managers working in local government (excluding education and hospitals).4

Advance Into a Human Services Career

What does it take to become a human and social services professional? “A strong desire to help others is an important consideration for a job as a human services worker,” the NOHS says. “Individuals who show patience, understanding, and caring in their dealings with others are highly valued by employers. Other important personal traits include communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility, and the ability to manage time effectively.”1

Job titles and responsibilities also vary based on the education level you achieve. An online MS in Human Services degree program can help you develop practical and leadership skills to make a positive difference for individuals, families, and communities. In selecting a human services degree program, look for an accredited university whose coursework aligns with the rigorous professional standards of the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE).

The best human services programs offer multiple specializations that you let you tailor your education to your career goals. Besides its general program, Walden University’s Master of Science in Human Services degree program features 8 relevant specializations to match your interests. Choose from specializations such as Community and Social Services, Family Studies and Interventions, and Military Families and Culture. You can also find your niche in specializations like Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention, or Criminal Justice.

Walden’s master’s in human services degree program can prepare you for a number of direct nontherapeutic services or leadership positions. With your passion for social change and dedication to maximizing human potential, you are bound to find a human services degree that leads you to the job satisfaction and rewards you seek.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Human Services degree program with multiple specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,