Thinking about a Career in Human Services? Consider the Pros and Cons

Last Updated on September 18, 2023

The human services field offers a number of opportunities to provide vital services to people in need. As the name suggests, “human services” basically involves providing services to people. These services could consist of mental health services, social services (financial assistance), childcare, vocational services and the list can go on and on.  If you are considering a career in human services, take a look at a few pros and cons I have listed that will hopefully provide some insight.

Related Post: Case Manager Salaries   

Rewarding Career- The human services field provides a tremendous amount of gratification for those who enjoy helping people. Human service professionals often assist people with disabilities and/or are in poverty. Making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable population can offer a great deal of pride and self-fulfillment.

Various Jobs within the field- There are countless opportunities to work in the human services. There is pretty much an opportunity for just about every educational and skill level. The human services field is one of the few career fields where you can find significant opportunities with just a high school education. Many of these opportunities are direct care positions. These positions are important because they assist individuals with critical activities of daily living such as hygiene, eating Of course the higher paying job opportunities are at the undergraduate and graduate education levels. 

Multiple opportunities for advancement- The human services field can offer many opportunities for career advancement. With so many positions available, one can easily advance to better positions after gaining some experience. Most human service professionals start off as direct care staff and gradually move up to counselors, case managers, services coordinators, vocational specialists, etc.

Job Security- Jobs within the human services field often provide long- term services for individuals with mental health and intellectual disabilities. These services usually require ongoing support to maintain stability. And with more people being added to waitlists for services, human service professionals at all levels will constantly be in demand. Many services like child/adult protective services and case management services are mandated by the state so there is very little chance of layoffs or lack of work. Many human service departments are understaffed right now.

Salaries are typically lower than many other career fields- If your goal is to become rich, then the human services field is probably not your answer. Most non-director or administrator positions will range in salary from a low of around $25,000 to a high of about $75,000 per year.

Graduate degree is often required for advancement- A master’s degree is often required for significant advancement in the human services field. Advanced counseling or psychology or counseling degrees are required to become licensed. Director or high level administrators in the human services often require a Master’s in public administration  (MPA) or business administration (MBA). So if you have no plans to go to graduate school, I would think long and hard before considering the human services field.

You may be subject to physical violence- The possibility of being attacked by a client is an unfortunate reality in the human services field. Group home and psychiatric hospital settings tend to have the highest probability of encountering physical violence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Excessive paperwork- Paperwork can make up 60%-70% of the job depending on the position. Case managers and eligibility workers seem to have the most paperwork. The paperwork is often redundant which can be frustrating.   

High Burnout Rate- Human service professionals have a high burnout and turnover rate. Based on my experience, positions in emergency services and crisis management have the highest burnout rate. Direct care positions in group homes and residential facilities also have a high burnout rate.

Related Post:  Careers in Human Services


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Martin Gardner
Thanks for visiting Case Management Basics! Martin Gardner is the founder of and Case Management Basics, LLC. Gardner is a mental health professional with over 20 years of experience in the human services field.

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