What Can I Do with a Health and Human Services Degree?

If you want to contribute to a healthier community and help make a difference in people's lives, you could consider earning a health and human services degree. Those who choose this vocation are responsible for overseeing the health of citizens and for providing critical services, including food and drug safety and counseling as well as disease-prevention and health care services. Read on to learn about some career options you may explore upon earning a degree in health and human services. Schools offering Human Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Health and Human Services Degree Options

While some universities offer bachelor's degrees in health and human services, many schools instead offer majors within a department of health and human services concerning one or more areas of public health and social work. An associate's degree program can prepare you for entry-level service positions in human services departments such as social work assistant or home-care aide. A bachelor's degree in health and human services may open up levels of employment with more responsibility in a wide range of fields within the realm of social services. For example, with a bachelor's degree, you could work as a child welfare social worker.

If you'd like to work in counseling, management or health education and promotion, you might want to pursue a master's degree. With a Master of Health and Human Services, you could work in operations or administration at hospitals, long-term care facilities and health agencies. You could also choose to specialize in a particular type of counseling such as substance abuse or rehabilitation counseling.

Career Options

Social Work Assistant

As a social work assistant, you could help a diverse population of individuals who need help getting food, shelter, work, access to social activities and personal-care assistance for themselves. You might work directly with a particular group of people such as the elderly, developmentally disabled, recovering addicts or the homeless. Your work could involve travel because you might need to visit clients' homes in order to teach life skills or assist them with daily-living tasks. You might also take on a more administrative role that involves managing paperwork and completing clerical tasks in a department of social services or similar office environment.

Child Welfare Social Worker

If you decide on a career in child welfare - sometimes called child protective services - you could work to help children and their families. You might work in a social services agency and help connect families to such services as shelter or food assistance. Your job might entail locating foster homes for children who are victims of abuse or neglect. Alternatively, you could work in a school. There, you might provide counseling services for children and teens who struggle to complete their studies or who deal with problems such as teen pregnancy, drug abuse or gang activity.

Substance Abuse Counselor

If you want to help individuals who are struggling with addictions they can't control such as food, drugs or alcohol, you might wish to become a substance abuse counselor. Your work would involve providing one-on-one or group counseling sessions, designing plans of recovery and giving suggestions for adjusting their behaviors or lifestyles. You might help the communities and families of individuals by extending treatment plans to include others and creating a support network.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), state requirements for the licensing of counselors varies, depending on the area of counseling you provide. Substance abuse counselors are usually monitored by a separate state agency than other types of counselors (www.bls.gov). Thus, you might wish to check your state's requirements. While it may be helpful to hold a master's degree for advancement, some states require only high school diplomas for this position at the entry level.

Specializations and Industries of Employment

As a health and human services professional, you'd focus on building partnerships with community, government and business leaders to address the health and social services needs of a particular area. You may choose to specialize in an area such as environmental health, public health education, counseling or public policy. Some popular areas of employment you could explore include legal assistance, non-profit management or administration, substance abuse and elder care. Some of these areas might require higher levels of training and education than others.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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