Social Services Careers

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Most people with a social services career gain personal satisfaction from helping people throughout their workday. Most social services careers require compassion and dedication. Social services workers play an important role in people's lives.

Social services careers attract individuals who enjoy helping people, who want to help individuals make their lives better. Typically, people with social services careers help people function the best they can in their environment.

Many social services jobs require a bachelor degree and some social services jobs may require a graduate degree. Some of the degree programs include classroom study and practical field experience. Some social services careers require people to be licensed, certified or registered. Requirements vary by the social services career and state.

TheBestSchools social services career profiles provide specific information about the nature of the career, salary, employment growth, training, education, including a matching online degree, and much more.

After you read through this page on Social Services Careers keep browsing our website's extensive career guide for more information on job options, education requirements and salaries.

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Health Educators

Education and Certifications Health Educators Need

People seeking to begin a health educator career typically need at least a Bachelor in Health Education degree or a Bachelor in Health Promotion degree. Most programs for health education specialists include an internship. Some federal government and state public health education jobs require a master's degree. Some colleges and universities offer a Master in Health Education degree program or a Master in Public Health degree program.

Some employers in the health education field prefer to hire Certified Health Education Specialists, which involves an exam aimed at entry-level health educators. To maintain certification, a health educator must complete 75 hours of continuing education every 5 years. Those interested in community health education can pursue an apprenticeship.

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What They Do

Health educators provide a myriad of education programs to help individuals and communities make healthy lifestyle choices. A health educator career includes teaching people what they need to do to maintain wellness. A health educator career also includes developing programming to encourage healthy decision-making at all ages.

Health education specialists can act as a generalist or focus on children, families or the elderly or a particular illness, such as heart disease or diabetes.

Health educator careers involve collecting and analyzing information to identify community needs in order to plan, implement and monitor programs to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Some professionals who work in community health education serve as a resource for individuals, other health care workers, or the broader community.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $45,360
2016 number of jobs 118,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 6%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $25,150
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $64,500

 

Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

Education and Certifications Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists Need

Candidates for jobs as a mental health counselor, family counselor or marriage therapist must have a master's degree such as a Master of Counseling degree or a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree. Bachelor's degrees from most fields are acceptable to enroll in a master's degree program.

Instruction prepares mental health counselors to recognize mental and emotional disorders and effectively counsel patients. A marriage therapist or family counselor learns how marriages, families and relationships work and can affect mental and emotional disorders. Both typically require supervised experience, such as an internship.

A master's degree and copious supervised experience can lead to licensure, a requirement for employment as a mental health counselor, marriage counselor or family therapist. Regulatory boards offer certification.

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What They Do

The challenges of modern life send many people looking for extra support. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists play a vital role in helping people deal with life's stumbling blocks, which those with emotional and mental disorders find especially difficult to negotiate.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists listen to their clients and ask questions that help them understand their problems. From there, a mental health counselor, marriage therapist or family counselor develop strategies by which their clients can improve their lives.

Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders in the context of marriage and family. A marriage and family therapist uses psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques to assist individuals, couples and families with diagnosed nervous or mental disorders.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $48,790
2016 number of jobs 41,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 23%
Entry-level education requirements Master's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $31,390
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $81,760

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Education and Certifications Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Need

An entry-level probation officer or correctional treatment specialist generally needs a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, psychology or a related field. Some employers require a master's degree in a related field for those who do not have previous relevant experience as a pretrial services officer, criminal investigator, substance abuse treatment officer or a correctional counselor.

A certification test may follow on-the-job training for probation officers and correctional treatment specialist with the state or federal government. A correctional treatment officer may also specialize in a particular type of casework after finishing training.

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What They Do

Once a judge sentences a criminal to jail or prison, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists take over to monitor their behavior while in jail and after release. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with offenders to help prevent repeat offenses.

A correctional treatment specialist career and a probation officer career include providing social services to help offenders rehabilitate while in custody or during probation or parole.

Probation officers and correctional counselors make recommendations as part of the rehabilitation plan, in areas such as conditional releases, education and employment requirements.

People in this field often find work as a federal probation officers, community supervision officers, pretrial service officers, parole officers, correctional treatment specialists and correctional counselors.

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Career Advancement Opportunities

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists may advance to a supervisory position based on education, experience and performance.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $51,410
2016 number of jobs 91,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 6%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $33,920
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $90,880

Recreational Therapists

Education and Certifications Recreational Therapists Need

Typically, people seeking a recreational therapist career need a Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation degree and certification. However, in some cases, recreation therapists may qualify for certification with a different form of combined education, training, and experience. Some students also gain internship experience working in local clinics and hospitals.

A Master in Recreation Therapy degree helps individuals obtain an administrative position in the recreation therapy field.

Hospitals and clinics often require recreational therapists to attain certification from the NCTRC (National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification). The organization offers the Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) credential to individuals who pass a written exam and complete an internship of at least 480 hours.

NCTRC also offers specialized certification in different areas such as behavioral health, physical rehabilitation and developmental disabilities. In addition, some states also require a recreational therapist to obtain a license.

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What They Do

A recreational therapist career attracts extremely patient people who enjoy being active and gain a great sense of accomplishment by helping people.

Recreational therapists organize and implement recreational and therapeutic programs for people with disabilities or illnesses. Recreation therapists use many techniques such as drama, dance, relaxation methods, sports, and music to help maintain or improve a patient's psychological and physical health.

Recreational therapist careers include reviewing a patient's medical chart, history and interests as well as discussing objectives with the patient's medical team and family members to develop a recreation therapy plan to quickly aid the client in becoming healthier and more independent. Recreational therapist careers also involve submitting reports and reviews to the medical and treatment team to demonstrate a patient's progression or regression

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $47,680
2016 number of jobs 19,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 7%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $29,570
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $74,210

 

Rehabilitation Counselors

Education and Certifications Rehabilitation Counselors Need

An entry-level rehabilitation counselor usually needs a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, but master's degree programs accept candidates with a bachelor's degrees in almost any field. The Council on Rehabilitation Education provides accreditation for rehabilitation counseling master degree programs.

A master's degree program often incorporates a period of supervised rehabilitation counseling, such as an internship, into the learning process.

A bachelor's degree in rehabilitation and disability studies sometimes qualifies candidates for work in the rehabilitation counseling field, but the lack of a master's degree typically limits the services they can provide.

Some employers seek licensed or certified rehabilitation counselors. Licensing and certification require a master's degree, specified work experience, passing grades on licensing or certification exams and continuing education credits.

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What They Do

The work of rehabilitation counselors often makes the difference between joblessness and long-term gainful employment for those with addictions or other life challenges. A rehabilitation counselor career includes working with people who have personal, social or vocational difficulties because of illness, birth defects, accidents or other stresses.

The work of rehabilitation counselors also helps enable people with emotional and physical disabilities to live on their own. A rehabilitation counselor can help a client overcome the personal, social and professional ramifications of having a disability that interferes with employment or independent living.

Addictions counselor careers and substance abuse counselor careers involve dealing with the special needs of those overcoming drug and alcohol problems.

Rehabilitation counseling involves evaluating clients' skills, values, interests, experience and health to help them find suitable work.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $34,860
2016 number of jobs 119,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 13%
Entry-level education requirements Master's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $22,040
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $62,780

Social and Community Service Managers

Education and Certifications Social and Community Service Managers Need

The minimum education to begin a social service manager career or a community service manager career is a Bachelor of Social Work, Urban Studies, Public Administration, or a degree in a related field. However, many employers prefer a social service manager or a community service manager with a Master of Social Work degree or a degree in a similar field such as public or business administration or public health.

Social service managers and community service managers do not need specific certifications or licenses.

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What They Do

Social service managers and community service managers put together and oversee programs that offer a variety of services to the public.

Social service managers and community service managers regularly interact and listen to the public, learning what programs and types of services are needed and desired. It is up to the social service managers and community service managers to then develop programs to meet those needs and hire and train staff members to run the program.

Social service managers and community service managers ensure their program receives funding, which may involve fundraising. Both a social service manager career and a community service manager career include finding ways of collecting data on their programs to analyze the effectiveness of it.

In large companies, social service managers and community service managers have more narrowed responsibilities and usually follow guidelines. They're involved with programs designed by someone higher in the organization. In smaller companies, however, social service managers and community service managers often wear multiple hats and have a more public face through speaking engagements, fundraising, and meeting with potential donors.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $64,100
2016 number of jobs 147,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 18%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $39,730
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $109,990

Social and Human Services Assistants

Education and Certifications Social and Human Services Assistants Need

An entry-level social and human services worker can find work with just a high school diploma, but some employers prefer candidates with an associate degree or certificate in social or behavioral science, human services or gerontology.

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What They Do

When someone falls on hard times, social and human services assistants can point them in the direction of help. Social and human services assistants know where to find support, and they work with other human service workers, such as social workers, to get clients the state or federal benefits they need.

During the initial interview at the social service office, a human services assistant starts the procedure used to determine what a person needs and how best to serve them.

A social services assistant career includes working under the direction of social workers, psychologists and other people with more education or experience.

Human services and social services assistants assist clients get help with daily activities, food stamps, Medicaid and other assistance. When someone needs social and human services, those in human services social work help them through the paperwork involved. A human service career includes monitoring clients to ensure they get the appropriate assistance.

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Career Advancement Opportunities

A human services assistant's job responsibilities vary with their education. Earning a bachelor or master's degree can lead to case management or social work jobs. Social and human services assistants might pursue degrees in counseling, rehabilitation and social work.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $33,120
2016 number of jobs 389,800
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 16%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $21,480
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $53,380

Social Workers

Education and Certifications Social Workers Need

Education requirements vary for social workers, depending on the type of social worker career they seek. Direct-service social workers generally need a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, however degrees in a related field such as a Bachelor of Psychology or Bachelor of Sociology are good foundations for graduate work. Clinical social workers need a Master of Social Work (MSW) as well as a state license.

All states have licensure requirements for social workers, although those requirements vary by state. Clinical social workers are required to have a state license in all cases except occasional positions in government agencies.

Licenses for nonclinical social workers are available in most states and considered optional.

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What They Do

Social workers help individuals, families and children with interpersonal, social, medical and financial issues. Social workers fall into two main categories: direct-service social workers or clinical social workers.

Direct-services social workers offer support and guidance to individuals dealing with everyday problems and issues. The social worker assesses the client's needs, personal situation, and ultimate goals, then develops a plan to improve the person's well being and begin steps toward accomplishing their goal.

Examples of common issues a direct-services social worker may help an individual deal with include illness, divorce and unemployment. They also respond to natural disasters and cases of child abuse. A direct-services social worker career includes researching local resources, such as food stamps, child care, and health care in order to inform their client and help them apply for any community resources which may benefit them.

A clinical social worker, or licensed clinical social worker, diagnoses and treats mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. Clinical social workers collaborate with their client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals to create a treatment plan for their client. A clinical social worker career may include teaching clients how to change destructive patterns and better cope with situations in a healthy way.

Clinical social workers may lead therapy sessions for individuals, groups, couples, or families. Other times, clinical social workers will refer a client to other resources, services, or support groups.

Clinical social workers may work in private practices, in a group practice with other healthcare professionals, or in a solo practice.

Some professionals in the field specialize and work as a medical social worker, licensed clinical social worker or healthcare social worker.

Direct-service social workers and clinical social workers typically focus on a specific expertise, such as child and family, school, healthcare, the elderly, hospice or palliative care, or mental health and substance abuse.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $47,980
2016 number of jobs 682,100
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 16%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $29,560
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $79,740

 

Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Education and Certifications Substance Abuse Counselors and Behavioral Disorder Counselors Need

Educational requirements for substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors vary widely, from a high school diploma and certification to a Master's in Behavior Science, depending on the type of work the counselor specializes in, position and responsibilities, and the state regulations.

The more education completed by a substance abuse counselor or behavioral disorder counselor, the more services the counselor can offer the client. Counselors with less education may be required to undergo on-the-job training, teaching them how to respond to crisis situations and interact with families and people with addictions.

Some colleges and universities offer a Master in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling degree.

All substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice need a license and a master's degree. Additionally, they need to pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education courses.

Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors in non-private practice settings must adhere to state-specific criteria for certification.

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What They Do

Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors help change people's lives for the better. Those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction or destructive behavioral disorders need somewhere to turn, someone to talk to, someone to help; that someone is often a substance abuse counselor or a behavioral disorder counselor.

Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors work with patients one-on-one or in a group setting through outreach programs, identifying their issue and developing an appropriate treatment plan to address it. A treatment plan involves helping the client admit their problem, identify harmful behaviors, and then develop the skills and behaviors needed to properly recover and move forward living a healthier lifestyle.

A substance abuse counselor career and a behavioral disorder counselor career include referring clients to other resources, such as job placement services or support groups, which can aid in their recovery and help them begin a healthy, independent lifestyle. The road to recovery requires learning how to speak with friends and family about the affliction in a healthy way, as well as rebuilding a career and healthy lifestyle.

Many different focuses exist for Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors, such as specific age groups, court-ordered individuals, crisis intervention, non-crisis interventions, or working in a private practice.

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Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $43,300
2016 number of jobs 260,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 23%
Entry-level education requirements Bachelor's degree
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $27,310
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $70,840

* Salary, number of jobs and employment growth provided by
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