Human service assistants help professionals such as social workers and healthcare workers provide services to clients. Their main objective is to enhance their clients quality of life. They evaluate the needs of their clients, and help them obtain services including welfare, medicaid and food stamps. Providing emotional support is also part of the occupation.
The term human service assistants covers a wide variety of jobs such as community support worker, life skills counselor, gerontology aide, human service worker and community outreach worker. Other types of employment in the category include social worker assistant, mental health aide and case management aide.
Some human service assistants may be asked to organize and also provide leadership for group activities. Providing daily living skills to people living in halfway homes and government supported housing programs is part of the job for some human service assistants. Many of them work with the elderly or with individuals in drug and alcohol programs.
They typically work under the guidance of workers from various fields such as nursing, rehabilitative or physical therapy, psychiatry, psychology or social work. Some work closely with supervisors, however others work with very little direct supervision.
- Arrange transportation and escorts for clients
- Monitor and keep records of their clients
- Review progress of clients with case managers and supervisors
- Assist people who need counseling
- Make sure clients are taking their medications
- Offer their assessment of clients' needs to caregivers and medical personnel
- Assist individuals to become involved in recreation programs and other types of activities
- Help individuals who are in treatment plans, such as occupational therapy and counseling
- Help clients find employment
- Assist parents locate childcare
- Communicate with clients on a continual basis
Many human service assistants find the job to be gratifying. However, the work in this profession, may at times, feel emotionally strenuous. Some of the organizations they work in may be understaffed which can sometimes lead to pressure on the job.
Good communication and time-management skills are important in the profession. Patients and understanding and a desire to help others are essential aspects of the occupation. Being detailed oriented helps to ensure errors don't prevent clients from receiving services. Meeting deadlines is also an important aspect of the job.
The work environment for human service assistants depends on the specific job. Some work in clinics, offices and hospitals. Others in the profession work in shelters, group homes and day programs. Also, travel in order to visit clients is often part of the job. Typically, those in the profession work a 40 hour week and sometimes they're required to work during the evenings and on the weekends.
Dealing with conflict situations is often part of the job. Sometimes working with clients can be somewhat dangerous, although most of the agencies take precautions to ensure the safety of human service assistants.
In 2006, there were about 339,000 social and human service assistants jobs. More than 60% of the positions were in the fields of healthcare and social assistance. About 30 percent were working for state and local government agencies, mainly in public welfare agencies and facilities for developmentally challenged people and the mentally disabled.
The median annual earnings for social and human services assistants was $25,580 in 2006. The top 10 percent earned over $40,780 and the bottom 10 percent earned under $16,180.
The government projects an employment growth rate of 34% for social and human services assistants between 2006 and 2016, which is substantially higher than the average for all the other types of employment. Besides an increase in government workers, employment opportunities in the profession are projected to grow in private social services agencies. The projected rise in employment is primarily due to the projected increase in demand for social and human services. The need for assistance will increase due to the growing elderly population. Many employers are increasingly relying on social and human services assistants.
Those with only high school diplomas are typically given duties such as assisting clients with paperwork and other basic tasks in direct-care services. Employees that hold a college degree may be assigned to coordinate program activities, provide supportive counseling or manage a group home. Some positions may require a bachelors's or master's degree in human services, social work, counseling or rehabilitation. Employers often hire those with degrees or certificates in psychology, sociology or gerontology.
Workers with bachelor's and master's degrees in relevant subjects have the best opportunities to advance into positions such as case managers, social workers or work in rehabilitation.
Education and Training
Typically, human service assistants are required to have a high school diploma or a GED certificate and complete their training. Those seeking to work with clients are usually required to have some college-level training. Degrees are provided from universities and community colleges. Universities that offer four-year degrees in the subject typically provide internships which allows the students to gain experience and network with professionals in the field.
The education programs typically include training in conducting interviews, writing reports, performing crisis intervention, effectively observing patients and managing caseloads. The majority of the programs provide specialties such as gerontology, child protection and specialties related to addictions.
Those in high school seeking a career in human services should consult with their school counselor or a teacher regarding opportunities in their location for internships, job shadowing and other opportunities to gain work experience in the field. Volunteer work can provide experience and allows the students to discover if this type of work is satisfying.
Human service assistants are provided with on-the-job training. They are trained in the various aspects of the job including recording information, observing clients, making referrals, working with various government agencies, interviewing clients and utilizing proper case management methods.
The primary employers are local and state governments, individual and family services, vocational rehabilitation services, residential mental retardation facilities and mental health and substance abuse centers.
Schools for Human Service Assistants are listed in the Browse Schools Section.