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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 TypeWhat they DoNumber Employed in the U.S., as of 2013Where they Usually Work
ClergyPerforms various functions within a religious denomination, including leading services or conducting spiritual ceremonies.45,020Religious institutions, churches
Family and School Social WorkersProvide assistance and social services to improve the social and psychological states of children and families.276,760Schools, state and local government
Marriage and Family TherapistsHelp people work though issues with their marriage and family relationships.29,060Private practices and mental health centers
Rehabilitation CounselorsHelp clients overcome personal difficulties that may be emotional, social or physical in nature.103,840Private practice, independent-living facilities, rehabilitation agencies, schools, prisons
Religious DirectorsDirect and plan religious education programming and activities.18,600Churches and religious organizations
Social workersAssist people in working through difficult problems in life, assessing their needs and devising plans to help them meet their goals.39,260Child welfare and human services agencies, hospitals, mental health clinics, schools, and private practice
Social and Human Services AssistantsProvide support during difficult times, and work under the direction of social workers, psychologists and other professionals.355,500Non-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 programNumber of years to completeTypes of careers that require this
DiplomaAround six monthsSocial work assistant
CertificateNine months to two yearsHuman services assistant, human services technician
Associate degreeTwo yearsHuman services, social work
Bachelor's degreeFour yearsSocial work, clergy
Master's degreeTwo years, in addition to a Bachelor's degreeClinical social worker, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, clergy

Sources

"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/

Schools for Community And Social Services are listed in the column to the left.

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

OccupationJobs
(2016)
Median Pay
(2016)
% Growth
2014-2024
Clergy49,850     $47,100     8.0%
Community and Social Service Specialists101,230     $41,570     13.2%
Family and School Social Workers306,370     $44,380     13.3%
Health Educators and Community Health Workers58,040     $53,940     14.5%
Human Service Assistants384,080     $33,120     16.4%
Marriage and Family Therapists42,880     $48,790     20.2%
Medical and Public Health Social Workers167,730     $54,870     18.5%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers112,040     $43,250     17.9%
Rehabilitation Counselors103,840     $34,860     9.7%
Religious Directors21,430     $38,980     7.3%
Religious Workers8,210     $29,310     7.7%
Social Workers58,150     $61,980     7.9%

Selected Schools for Community And Social Services (including any online schools)

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