Human services-related professions are some of the most in-demand; human and social service assistant positions are projected to increase by around 34% in the next decade, and a two-year associate degree could help you join the workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the senior population in our country is expanding rapidly, demanding a range of qualified human services professionals. If you’re concerned about job security after recent tumultuous world events, then you might want to consider a career in one of the many fields related to human services.
What Is a Human Services Degree?
Human services degrees ready students to work in a variety of client-serving roles within the public outreach sector. You’ll be supporting professionals that include social services workers, doctors, and other trained people who help individuals to adjust to or defeat personal, health-related challenges in their lives.
You could be supporting those suffering from a mental health crisis or battling drug or alcohol addiction. Or, you might be supporting the victims of crime or abuse. There are many other challenges within this role, but the right degree program will equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed.
Due to the nature of the work, you’ll take a broad range of courses, including those grounded in psychology, mental health, substance abuse, public speaking, and counseling. And upon graduation, you’ll find that you’re entering an industry where your skills are constantly in high demand.
Related Resource: What is a Bachelor’s Degree?
Careers for Human Services Majors
Degrees in human services commonly lead into roles within the community, including case working and social work, or into roles that support offenders, or people with substance abuse or mental health issues. Some of the entry-level roles open to associate degree holders include human services liaison, behavioral management aide, community outreach worker, and probation officer.
Students who choose to advance their associate degree to a bachelor’s degree might move into roles higher than those entry-level positions outlined above. Social and human service assistants, for example, require a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college to be considered as qualified for the role.
It’s uncommon for graduates working in direct-contact roles in the community to pursue a master’s degree, however there are exceptions. Counseling and therapy positions are one of the few that require you to hold a master’s level education. For example, rehabilitation counselors and marriage and family therapists must have successfully completed a master’s degree program.
Human Services Salary Potential
The BLS highlighted how, in 2019, social and human service assistants earned a median of $35,060 annually. Home health and personal care aides earned around $25,280, with an enormous 34% projected increase in demand for workers. Such expected demand is common in roles that work within community health.
Should you choose to pursue your bachelor’s degree, the number of positions open to you can increase, as can your earning potential. For example, according to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earned a median salary of $46,240 in 2019; these roles require a bachelor’s degree.
Some programs, such as the one offered by Great Basin College, allow students to gain additional certificates in key areas of human services. These could help to advance your career more quickly, in addition to potentially increasing your earning potential within the role.
What Are the Best Human Services Degrees?
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University of Alaska Anchorage
Average Net Price
The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) offers more than 100 programs of study, with nearly 30 options at the associate degree level. The university has five campuses, in addition to two additional instructional sites, the Eagle River Campus and a number of military programs on-base.
Comprising 60 credits, this degree program typically takes two years to complete. You’ll take 30 credits in required core courses, with the remainder being a combination of university and program electives. It’s recommended that you discuss your choices with a faculty advisor to ensure that they’re aligned with your career aspirations.
After graduating from the program, you’ll have the necessary knowledge and skills to assess the needs of individuals who require assistance from community health agencies. You’ll also be competent at creating and implementing action plans that will help these people to improve their health and their lives. Your tuition will be influenced by the number of course credits taken, the level of each course, and your residency status. Resident tuition varies from $234 — $282 per credit for undergraduate studies, while non-resident tuition varies from $800 — $848. More information can be found on rates here.
CUNY New York City College of Technology
New York City, New York
Average Net Price
Spread across three separate schools and colleges, City Tech has a range of 53 degree programs for students to choose from. Of these, there are 27 associate degrees in a range of disciplines. With history that dates back to the late 19th Century, City Tech has an enrollment totaling around 17,000 students and a faculty of around 1,500 part and full-time staff.
This associate degree curriculum has foundations in the liberal arts, including a broad selection of courses in human services. Available as an evenings and weekends program, you’ll take courses in areas such as psychology, life and physical sciences, counseling, gerontology, public speaking, and community health.
You will be expected to take responsibility for arranging and completing two semesters of field work, with one to two days each week dedicated to the practicum. After graduation, students commonly enter careers as an assistant probation officer, mental health advocate, social casework assistant, and job developer for example.
Students admitted into a program are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $100 toward tuition. Resident students pay full-time tuition of around $3,465 per semester, while all non-resident students are charged on a per-credit basis, with each credit costing around $620 for both part-time and full-time students.
Pennsylvania College of Technology
Average Net Price
At Pennsylvania College of Technology, students participate in more than 65 clubs and organizations; or, you can start an entirely new one. The institution’s history dates back more than 100 years, and it has recently placed within numerous rankings by U.S. News & World Report, including the best colleges for veterans, the best value schools, and top public schools.
On this associate degree program, you’ll benefit from unique facilities like the Mentoring Lab, which is reserved for students enrolled in a limited selection of programs. Paired with another incoming student, you’ll use this space to design a study plan and put your skills into practice.
During the program, you’ll benefit from 30 hours of real-world field exposure, with graduates also having a 100% placement rate. There is also a seamless pathway from this associate degree to the bachelor’s degree, just in case you decide to pursue further study. Tuition and fees at Pennsylvania College of Technology are charged on a per-credit hour basis, with state residents paying around $504 per credit hour. Non-residents pay around $756 per credit hour. Fees include an activity fee, capital fee, health & wellness fee, and technology fee; these are applied to each credit hour.
Madison Area Technical College
Average Net Price
Madison College offers prospective students a choice of study from 11 different disciplines, with more than 180 programs of study available to choose from. These include short certificate programs, associate degrees, and technical diplomas. Campus is located in Truax, with an additional three locations in Madison and four in Watertown, Portage, Reedsburg, and Fort Atkinson.
Comprising a total of 63 credits, this human services degree program is delivered on-campus through face-to-face instruction. You’ll gain the skills needed to work within human services careers both one-on-one and in groups. The curriculum is structured in such a way that you’ll learn to work with individuals from a broad range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Whether you’d rather study part-time or full-time, you have the freedom to choose. Courses will be taught at the Goodman South campus in Madison, though some travel is likely during the fieldwork placement. Taking place in your second year of study, this will be based within a human service agency. Tuition is charged on a per-credit basis at this college, with in-state residents paying around $138.90 per credit for associate’s degree programs. Non-resident students pay around $208.35 per credit for the same degree type. Additional fees for both student groups are detailed on this page of the college’s website.
Great Basin College
Average Net Price
At Great Basin College, you’ll be joining an annual enrollment of around 4,000 students. Degrees are offered at the associate and bachelor’s levels, with programs mostly focusing on academic study in the areas of career and technical education. Founded in 1967, the institution is a public college that’s part of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
This associate degree program prepares you to work in roles within mental health facilities, social service organizations, substance abuse treatment centres, and other agencies that serve community health. At the end of the program, you’ll also graduate with a Certificate of Achievement in Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Certificate of Achievement in Human Services if you meet the necessary requirements.
Thanks to a practicum course in human services, you will also gain real-world experience by shadowing professionals as they go about their duties, or by completing similar field experiences. What’s more, much of the assigned coursework on this program can be completed remotely, online, using multimedia or case studies. The total estimated cost of attendance for state residents is around $15,318 – $17,283 for full-time students. For non-residents, this rises to around $15,898 – $18,262. There are several factors that can affect your cost of attendance, so you can check out the full details here; this page also provides a net price calculator for more accurate estimates.