Social Services

Degree programs in social service are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels of study. You can learn how to help people in unfortunate circumstances get the help they need to improve their situation. To learn more about the academic requirements and career opportunities, continue reading.

Are Social Services for Me?

The field of social services involves helping improve others peoples quality of life. You can earn associate's degrees in human services. Bachelor's degrees in social work are required for many social services careers. Master's and doctoral degree programs are also available. If you graduate from one of these programs, you might find work in mental health agencies, government organizations or community settings.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in social services include courses covering helper relationships, human resources, organizational behavior, the psychology of aging, child welfare and family counseling. You can learn to assess children's needs and represent people in the community who need an advocate. Social services master's degree programs, can teach you about the history of social welfare in the United States, identify how community resources can help those in need and develop policies that can inspire social change. Doctoral degree programs allow you to conduct research and examine areas of interest, such as child abuse prevention, community health and safety concerns, management, substance abuse and domestic abuse.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social service workers should enjoy working with people, have a desire to serve others and be able to lead (www.bls.gov). They should also be good at decision-making, conflict resolution, psychology and communication. The BLS projects that between 2008 and 2018, the employment demand should increase by 23% for social service assistants and by 16% for social workers. As of May 2010, the median annual salary for social service assistants was $28,200, for mental health social workers it was $38,600. Child, family and school social workers earned an average of $40,210, while other social workers averaged $51,500 annually during the same time period.

How Can I Work in Social Services?

According to the BLS, a social services bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to become a social worker. Individuals who pursue related degree programs, such as sociology, psychology and human services, are also eligible for an entry-level position in the field. However, it's becoming more common for employers to require social workers to have a master's degree. A social services degree can also help you complete the clinical hours required for licensure. Each state has its own guidelines, but most states require at least two years of supervised social work prior to licensure, reported the BLS.

In social work master's degree programs and doctoral degree programs, you can often select from specializations including human services administration, community services, social work or family studies. You can focus on a specific area, such as working with abused children, or you can study administration and leadership. A human services doctoral degree can lead to supervisory and administrative positions.

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