Community and Social Service, Social Service Jobs and Careers

Community And Social Services - Career Information

Community And Social Services picture    Community And Social Services image

Community and Social Services: Schools and Careers As of 2011, 1.9 million Americans were employed in the community and social services occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is actually one of the smaller occupational groups in the U.S., according to the BLS, accounting for less than 1.5 percent of all employed. However, it is still a field attracting high employment interest. One of the largest sub-groups in the industry is social and human services assistants, with a total of 355,500 people employed.

The professions that do fall under the community and social services category are many and diverse. Often, these workers help individuals make improvements in their lives, and also provide the types of services that can benefit a community as a whole. Some of the well-known community and social services jobs include, but are not limited to:

  • Clergy: May work for one of many different types of religious faiths, including Buddhist, Christian, Judaism, Islam and others.
  • Counselors and therapists: Help people to improve their lives in areas related to careers, education, family, marriage, and rehabilitation.
  • Social and human service assistants and workers: May specialize in work with children and families, or in areas such as mental health, schools, and substance abuse.

Individuals employed in the community and social services industry often share the desire to make a positive impact in the lives of others. While the roles of community and social services professionals vary greatly, workers may hold many common characteristics and traits, such as: diplomacy and objectivity; emotional stability; maturity; sensitivity to the feelings of others; a strong sense of ethics; and patience.

While a career in community and social services may be truly rewarding and satisfying, it also can come with challenges, including the need to work on weekends and evenings, in a few cases. BLS data from 2011 reports that the annual mean wage for all community and social services occupations was $45,830, which fell just below the average mean wage of $45,230 for all occupations combined. However, 7 out of the 17 occupations in this field had annual wages that ranked above the U.S. average. Often, an advanced education can lead to more career opportunities in the field and better chances for increased pay.

Top Careers in Community and Social Services

The occupations available in community social services do vary, but a few of the differential professional career choices are provided below:

  • Clergy
  • Community and Social Service Specialists
  • Family and School Social Workers
  • Health Educators and Community Health Workers
  • Human Service Assistants
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Medical and Public Health Social Workers
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
  • Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Religious Directors
  • Social Workers
  • Social and Human Service Assistants

A brief description of a few of these specialties are provided in more detail as follows using BLS data:

Career Type What they Do Number Employed in the U.S., as of 2013 Where they Usually Work
Clergy Performs various functions within a religious denomination, including leading services or conducting spiritual ceremonies. 45,020 Religious institutions, churches
Family and School Social Workers Provide assistance and social services to improve the social and psychological states of children and families. 276,760 Schools, state and local government
Marriage and Family Therapists Help people work though issues with their marriage and family relationships. 29,060 Private practices and mental health centers
Rehabilitation Counselors Help clients overcome personal difficulties that may be emotional, social or physical in nature. 103,840 Private practice, independent-living facilities, rehabilitation agencies, schools, prisons
Religious Directors Direct and plan religious education programming and activities. 18,600 Churches and religious organizations
Social workers Assist people in working through difficult problems in life, assessing their needs and devising plans to help them meet their goals. 39,260 Child welfare and human services agencies, hospitals, mental health clinics, schools, and private practice
Social and Human Services Assistants Provide support during difficult times, and work under the direction of social workers, psychologists and other professionals. 355,500 Non-profits, for-profit social service agencies, and state and local governments

Community and Social Services Career Training & Schools

The educational requirements for those wanting to enter the community and social services field are varied. While a range of entry-level positions could be available to those holding a diploma, certificate or Associate degree, a Master's degree is generally needed for adults seeking employment as a social worker or therapist. That said, some occupations, such as those for social and human service assistants, do not require require any postsecondary education at all. Still, many employers may want to hire employees with some type of formal education. Even for entry-level positions, there are numerous programs available in which students can enroll to gain a short-term education. Also, in many occupations, such as those for social and human services, on-the-job training, seminars and workshops can help provide more skills training. Below is a listing of education programs that correspond to community and social services careers, sourced from the BLS.

Type of program Number of years to complete Types of careers that require this
Diploma Around six months Social work assistant
Certificate Nine months to two years Human services assistant, human services technician
Associate degree Two years Human services, social work
Bachelor's degree Four years Social work, clergy
Master's degree Two years, in addition to a Bachelor's degree Clinical social worker, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, clergy


"Employment and wages in community and social service occupations," John Jones, 2012. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-1/employment-and-wages-in-community-and-social-service-occupations.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

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Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.

Community and Social Services

Occupation Jobs
Median Pay
% Growth
Clergy 48,250     $44,250     5.6%
Community and Social Service Specialists 94,670     $41,890     8.2%
Family and School Social Workers 294,080     $42,350     6.2%
Health Educators and Community Health Workers 57,570     $51,960     12.2%
Human Service Assistants 359,350     $30,830     11.4%
Marriage and Family Therapists 32,070     $48,600     14.8%
Medical and Public Health Social Workers 155,590     $52,380     19.3%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 110,070     $42,170     18.9%
Rehabilitation Counselors 101,630     $34,390     9.0%
Religious Directors 20,280     $38,780     4.3%
Social Workers 59,570     $58,560     3.8%
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