Social and Human Service Assistants

Summary

social and human service assistants image
Social and human service assistants help people who are suffering or need additional support.
Quick Facts: Social and Human Service Assistants
2012 Median Pay $28,850 per year
$13.87 per hour
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, 2012 372,700
Job Outlook, 2012-22 22% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 81,200

What Social and Human Service Assistants Do

Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

Work Environment

Social and human service assistants work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service agencies, and state and local governments. They generally work full time, and some work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Social and Human Service Assistant

The minimum requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent, but some employers prefer to hire workers who have additional education or experience. Without additional education, advancement opportunities are limited.

Pay

The median hourly wage for social and human service assistants was $13.87 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. There should be good job prospects, because low pay and heavy workloads cause many workers to leave this occupation.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of social and human service assistants with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about social and human service assistants by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Social and Human Service Assistants Do About this section

Social and human service assistants
Social and human service assistants help the elderly to stay in their own homes and under their own care whenever possible.

Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They help other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

Duties

Social and human service assistants typically do the following:

  • Work under the direction of social workers, psychologists, or others who have more education or experience
  • Help determine what type of help their clients need
  • Work with clients and other professionals, such as social workers, to develop a treatment plan
  • Help clients get help with daily activities, such as eating and bathing
  • Coordinate services provided to clients by their own or other organizations
  • Research services available to their clients in their communities
  • Determine clients’ eligibility for services such as food stamps and Medicaid
  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
  • Monitor clients to ensure that services are provided appropriately

Social and human service assistants have many job titles, including case work aide, clinical social work aide, family service assistant, social work assistant, addictions counselor assistant, and human service worker. Social and human service assistants help clients to 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 services and that the services are meeting their needs.

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

With the elderly, these workers help clients stay in their own homes and under their own care whenever possible. They coordinate meal deliveries or find personal care aides to help older people with their day-to-day needs, such as running errands or bathing. In some cases, human service workers 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 adapt the elements of a job to make it accessible to people with disabilities. Some workers find personal care services to help clients with daily living activities, such as bathing or making meals.

For people with addictions, human service assistants find rehabilitation centers that meet their clients’ needs. They also find support groups or 12-step programs. They work with 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 finding housing and applying skills gained in the military to civilian jobs. They also help with navigating the overwhelming number of services available to veterans.

For people with mental illnesses, social and human service assistants help clients find resources to 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 also may help them find programs that teach English, or they may find legal assistance to help immigrants get their 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 make 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 facilities for other problems they may have, such as joblessness.

Work Environment About this section

Social and human service assistants
Social and human service assistants sometimes travel around their community to see clients.

Social and human service assistants held about 372,700 jobs in 2012. They work for nonprofit organizations, private for-profit social service agencies, and state and local government. They may work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, and shelters. Some travel around their communities to see clients.

The industries that employed the most social and human service assistants in 2012 were as follows:

Individual and family services23%
State and local government20
Residential care facilities16
Community and vocational rehabilitation services12
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations10

Work Schedules

Most social and human service assistants work full time. Some work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Social and Human Service Assistant About this section

Social and human service assistants
Social and human service assistants help determine what type of help their clients need.

The minimum requirement is a high school diploma or the equivalent, but some employers prefer to hire workers who have additional education or experience. Without additional education, advancement opportunities are limited.

Education

A high school diploma is the minimum requirement, but some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. Certificates or associate’s degrees in subjects such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or a social or behavioral science are common for workers entering this occupation.

Human services 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. However, 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 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 them to respond to the different needs of their clients and to crises the clients sometimes undergo.

Advancement

For social and human service assistants, additional education is almost always necessary for advancement. In general, advancement to case management or social work jobs requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human services, counseling, rehabilitation, social work, or a related field.

Important Qualities

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 listen to their clients and to communicate their needs to organizations that can help.

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 need to build relationships with other service providers to help themselves learn about all of the resources that are available in their communities.

Organizational skills. Social and human service assistants often must 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. Assistants help clients find solutions to their problems. They must be able to listen carefully to their clients’ needs and offer multiple solutions.

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

Some employers require a criminal background check. In some settings, workers need a valid driver’s license.

Pay About this section

Social and Human Service Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Community and social service occupations

$19.42

Total, all occupations

$16.71

Social and human service assistants

$13.87

 

The median hourly wage for social and human service assistants was $13.87 in May 2012.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 $9.34, and the top 10 percent earned more than $22.16.

In May 2012, the median hourly wages for social and human service assistants in the top five industries in which these assistants worked were as follows:

State and local government$16.57
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional,
and similar organizations
14.77
Individual and family services13.67
Community and vocational rehabilitation services12.49
Residential care facilities11.98

Most social and human service assistants work full time. Some work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Social and Human Service Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Social and human service assistants

22%

Community and social service occupations

17%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be due to an increase in the elderly population and rising demand for health care and social services.

Much of the growth will be due to the needs of an aging population. An increase in number of older adults will cause growth in demand for social services. The elderly population often needs services such as delivery of meals and adult daycare. Social and human service assistants, who help find and provide these services, will be needed 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. The result will be an increase in demand for social and human service assistants who work in treatment programs or work with people with addictions.

There also will be continued demand for child and family social and human service assistants. These workers will be needed to help others, such as social workers, investigate child abuse cases, as well as place children in foster care and with adoptive families.

Job Prospects

Low pay and heavy workloads cause many workers to leave this occupation, creating opportunities for new workers entering the field.

Employment projections data for social and human service assistants, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Social and human service assistants

21-1093 372,700 453,900 22 81,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of social and human service assistants.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They care for children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. In addition, some help children prepare for kindergarten or help older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $19,510
home health aides image

Home Health Aides

Home health aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. 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.

Less than high school $20,820
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions, to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Master’s degree $41,500
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with and monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes.

Bachelor’s degree $48,190
Rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors

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

Master’s degree $33,880
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop social skills and succeed in school. Career counselors assist people with the process of making career decisions, by helping them choose a career or educational program.

Master’s degree $53,610
Social and community service managers

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They direct and lead staff who provide social services to the public.

Bachelor’s degree $59,970
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One group of social workers, clinical social workers, also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

See How to Become One $44,200
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

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

High school diploma or equivalent $38,520
Health educators

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.

See How to Become One $41,830
personal care aides image

Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks, and provide companionship.

Less than high school $19,910
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Social and Human Service Assistants,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm (visited October 24, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014