What Is Health and Human Services?

Health and human services, in its various interpretations, involve aiding others to assess their needs and offering the tools and resources required to create and implement a treatment plan. Pursuing a degree in this field deepens your understanding of the physical health, mental well-being, and social requirements of individuals, families, and communities. Whether it’s providing therapy in a clinical setting or devising treatment plans for those facing addiction, the professions within health and human services are diverse and fulfilling.

Individuals aspiring to make a positive impact in their communities may opt for a health and human services degree. This qualification equips you to provide valuable services in various roles, assisting people of all ages and backgrounds as they navigate challenging life circumstances. Careers in this sector encompass roles in medical and mental health, counseling, addiction services, government, and social work.

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A bachelor’s degree in health and human services offers a broad academic perspective covering psychology, criminal justice, social work, education, and management. Many public-facing organizations, at federal, state, and community levels, necessitate a bachelor’s degree for roles in counseling, leadership, program development, social advocacy, and other pivotal positions in health and human services.

Employment in Health and Human Services

Jobs in health and human services can lead to rewarding and fulfilling careers. The core objective of these roles is to help individuals function effectively in various aspects of their lives. Most positions have specific educational requirements, and some may demand state licensure or certification. To work in this field, individuals must comprehend how human systems, including individuals, organizations, communities, and families, interconnect.

Professionals in health and human services identify and implement solutions beneficial to clients seeking assistance. They execute suitable interventions based on evaluating clients’ physical, mental, and emotional needs. Those engaged in health and human services display robust organizational, communication, and leadership skills, coupled with compassion and empathy for clients facing difficulties. Common jobs in health and human services include:

1. Nurses: Nurses recognize patients’ symptoms, administer medications, provide measures to alleviate symptoms, and collaborate with other professionals in healthcare settings.

2. Child Life Specialists: These specialists assist children and families in coping with illness, injury, disability, trauma, or hospitalization, providing additional support resources.

3. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW): LCSWs, with a master’s degree, diagnose and treat mental health issues, offering psychotherapy, counseling, and talk therapy.

4. Psychologist: Psychologists, trained mental health professionals, help clients handle mental health challenges and work with various conditions.

5. Counselor: Counselors aid individuals, couples, or families in overcoming emotional disorders, mental health issues, or relationship difficulties.

6. Marriage and Family Therapist: MFTs diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriages, couples, and family issues.

7. Behavioral Management Aide: Aides encourage positive behaviors in children, particularly in school settings, minimizing disruptions and promoting effective study habits.

8. Case Management Worker: Case managers assess patient needs, create treatment plans, and coordinate care to improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

9. Child Advocate: Advocates protect children’s rights, providing resources and support during crises, including counseling services, consultation, and arranging support services.

10. Community Economic Development Officer: A key role of a community economic development officer involves achieving goals outlined in the community’s Economic Development Plan. They contribute to creating short and long-term economic development plans, collecting information for future planning.

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11. Community Outreach Worker: In the realm of human services, a community outreach worker is a member of a non-profit or government organization engaging and educating the community about the organization’s goals. Serving as a link with community partners, these workers advance the organization’s objectives for community and volunteer education.

12. Crisis Intervention Counselor: Crisis intervention counselors assist those in acute mental health crises, often triggered by recent trauma or PTSD. Their core responsibilities include helping clients navigate intense emotions, providing education on trauma/PTSD, and offering support and coping tools.

Education Requirements for Health and Human Services

To secure a job in health and human services, a bachelor’s degree in health and human services or a related field is necessary. For many positions, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, while those aspiring to higher-level roles should consider pursuing a master’s degree for more in-depth skills and experience.A Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Services prepares individuals to advocate for patients in diverse settings, driving change in healthcare and government to bring improvements to communities. Students learn about value-based care systems, community and public health strategies, communication of health plan information, client-centered holistic care, and strategies for integrated care management.

The B.S. in Health and Human Services lays the foundation for driving change in healthcare and community settings. A master’s degree in this field also prepares individuals for roles in nonprofit organizations and higher-level capacities such as program evaluation or direct assistance. For professionals seeking skill advancement or individuals pursuing a new career, an online degree provides a cost-effective and convenient option. WGU’s online courses, shaped by industry leaders and employers, offer flexibility for learning from home.

The health and human services field presents opportunities in individual and family services, government agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Medicaid, and other healthcare settings.

Best Paying Careers in Health and Human Services

Health and human services professionals can find fulfilling jobs in various sectors, including local government, ambulatory healthcare services, state government, and individual and family services.

Jobs in this field are not only rewarding but also open pathways to diverse career fields. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers in the U.S. earned an average of $50,390 per year, with salaries ranging from less than $36,520 in the lowest 10% to over $82,840 in the highest 10%.

The median annual wages for social workers 2021 were:

  • Healthcare social workers: $60,840
  • Child, family, and school social workers: $49,150
  • Social workers, all other: $61,190
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $49,130

Individuals with a health and human services degree can anticipate positive career prospects and the ability to choose from various positions, from administration in research or health management to support services for children or the elderly. The BLS projects a 12% growth in health and human services occupations between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

How to Start Building a Career in Health and Human Services

Aspiring to a career in health and human services involves exploring specialty areas, including those covered in the bachelor’s degree program. This program provides a comprehensive overview, setting students up for success.

Online degrees in health and human services equips students with relevant knowledge and skills for success in different environments and roles. The competency-based approach allows flexibility in completing coursework and assessments at one’s own pace.

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