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If helping people improve their lives seems to be your calling, you may want to consider a bachelor's degree in human services. This type of degree provides the foundation for many careers that center around making a difference in people's lives. With such a background, you could build a career as a social worker, counselor or probation officer. You could even delve into an area that deals with personal issues: self-esteem, alcohol addiction or gambling. One personal quality that is often needed in the human services field is the ability to be sensitive to others' needs while being able to objectively assess their situation.

Consider an online bachelor's degree in human services

Many students look online to complete a degree in human services. An online education offers a large amount of flexibility. You can work at your own pace, set your own schedule and go online when you wish. A bachelor's degree in human services can be completed in three or four years depending on the school and the course load that you select.

Some of the courses you might take for a degree in human services include:

  • Child welfare
  • Human behavior
  • Psychology
  • Social welfare

Human services degree: How you might help others

Many people with a human-services degree focus on addressing social issues in the community, such as homelessness, poverty or illiteracy. As you can imagine, the settings for these issues vary. People in social work may find employment in a variety of sites from private practice to schools and hospitals. The requirements will vary. Those going into private practice, for example, often need to obtain a master's degree to be able to help their clients. The licensing and certification requirements for social workers and other human services workers will vary per state and may require research on your part.

With many human services positions, the work can be stressful and challenging. You may be interacting with people who are facing difficult situations or need a fair amount of support. Some employers are understaffed, underfunded or both. While this may create a large case load for a human services worker, it can also be rewarding for those trained with the right skills.

Human services degree: employment prospects

Salaries in human services typically are in the moderate range, but can be increased with an advanced degree, work in private practice or focus in a specialized area. The job outlook for social workers is favorable, with employment expected to grow by 19 percent during the 2012-2022 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is due to growth in the elderly population and the aging of the Baby Boom generation. According to 2014 data from the BLS, social workers who focused on child, family and school issues received meddian wages of $42,120 while those who worked in healthcare received median wages of $51,930.

Counseling is another area of human services that is promising. More and more, schools are utilizing counselors to help motivate and guide students. As a school counselor, you might help students understand what goals they need to set and what colleges they might want to apply for. The demand for counselors is expected to grow by 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. Of note, the median wages earned by educational, guidance, vocational and school counselors were $53,370, according to 2014 numbers from the BLS.

Regardless of career specialty, a degree in human services is an important first step for those who want to help and inspire others. You may want to think about whether you are ready to apply to a school today and jump start your course work and your hope for helping others.

Sources

"Social Workers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

"Child, Family, and School Social Workers," U.S. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, July 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm

"Healthcare Social Workers," U.S. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, July 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm

"School and Career Counselors," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm

"Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors," U.S. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, July 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211012.htm

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