Social and Human Service Assistants

Summary

social and human service assistants image
Social and human service assistants help clients identify and obtain benefits and services.
Quick Facts: Social and Human Service Assistants
2016 Median Pay $31,810 per year
$15.29 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 389,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 16% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 63,900

What Social and Human Service Assistants Do

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

Work Environment

Many social and human service assistants work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service agencies, and state and local governments. They generally work full time, and some work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Social and Human Service Assistant

Requirements for social and human service assistants vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $31,810 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and rising demand for social services is expected to drive demand for these workers. Job opportunities are expected to be good.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for social and human service assistants.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of social and human service assistants with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about social and human service assistants by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Social and Human Service Assistants Do About this section

Social and human service assistants
Social and human service assistants help the elderly stay in their own homes and live under their own care whenever possible.

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

Duties

Social and human service assistants typically do the following:

  • Help determine what type of aid their clients need
  • Work with clients and other professionals, such as social workers, to develop a treatment plan
  • Help clients find assistance with daily activities, such as eating and bathing
  • Research services, such as food stamps and Medicaid, that are available to clients
  • Coordinate services provided to clients
  • Help clients complete paperwork to apply for assistance programs
  • Check in with clients to ensure that services are provided appropriately

Social and human service assistants have many job titles, including case work aide, clinical social work aide, family service assistant, social work assistant, addictions counselor assistant, and human service worker.

Social and human service assistants help clients identify and obtain benefits and services. In addition to initially connecting clients with benefits or services, social and human service assistants may follow up with clients to ensure that they are receiving the intended services and that the services are meeting their needs. They work under the direction of social workers, psychologists, or other community and social service workers.

With children and families, social and human service assistants ensure that the children live in safe homes. They help parents get needed resources for their children, such as food stamps or childcare.

With the elderly, these workers help clients stay in their own homes and live under their own care whenever possible. Social and human service assistants may coordinate meal deliveries or find personal care aides to help with the clients’ day-to-day needs, such as running errands and bathing. In some cases, human service assistants help look for residential care facilities, such as nursing homes.

For people with disabilities, social and human service assistants help find rehabilitation services that aid their clients. They may work with employers to make a job more accessible to people with disabilities. Some workers find personal care services to help clients with daily living activities, such as bathing and making meals.

For people with addictions, human service assistants find rehabilitation centers that meet their clients’ needs. They also may find support groups for people who are dependent on alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other substances or behaviors.

With veterans, assistants help people who have been discharged from the military adjust to civilian life. They help with practical needs, such as locating housing and finding ways to apply skills gained in the military to civilian jobs. They may also help their clients navigate the services available to veterans.

For people with mental illnesses, social and human service assistants help clients find the appropriate resources to help them cope with their illness. They find self-help and support groups to provide their clients with an assistance network. In addition, they may find personal care services or group housing to help those with more severe mental illnesses care for themselves.

With immigrants, workers help clients adjust to living in a new country. They help the clients locate jobs and housing. They may also help them find programs that teach English, or they may find legal assistance to help immigrants get administrative paperwork in order.

With former prison inmates, human service assistants find job training or placement programs to help clients reenter society. Human service assistants help former inmates find housing and connect with programs that help them start a new life for themselves.

With homeless people, assistants help clients meet their basic needs. They find temporary or permanent housing for their clients and locate places, such as soup kitchens, that provide meals. Human service assistants also help homeless people find resources to address other problems they may have, such as joblessness.

Work Environment About this section

Social and human service assistants
Social and human service assistants sometimes travel around their community to see clients.

Social and human service assistants held about 389,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of social and human service assistants were as follows:

Individual and family services 27%
Nursing and residential care facilities 14
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12
Community and vocational rehabilitation services 10
State government, excluding education and hospitals 9

Social and human service assistants work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, and shelters. Some travel around their communities to see clients.

Work Schedules

Most social and human service assistants worked full time in 2016, and about 1 in 5 worked part time. Some work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Social and Human Service Assistant About this section

Social and human service assistants
The duties of social and human service assistants are often determined by their level of education.

Requirements for social and human service assistants vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training.

Some employers require a criminal background check. Social and human service assistants also may need a valid driver’s license.

Education

Although a high school diploma is typically required, some employers prefer to hire workers who have relevant work experience or education beyond high school. A certificate or an associate’s degree in a subject such as human services, gerontology (working with older adults), or social or behavioral science is becoming more common for workers entering this occupation.

Human service degree programs train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle people who are undergoing a crisis. Many programs include fieldwork to give students hands-on experience.

The level of education that social and human service assistants have completed often determines the responsibilities they are given. Those with a high school diploma are likely to do lower level work, such as helping clients fill out paperwork. Assistants with some college education may coordinate program activities or manage a group home.

Training

Many social and human service assistants, particularly those without any postsecondary education, undergo a short period of on-the-job training. Because such workers often are dealing with multiple clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, on-the-job training in case management helps prepare them to respond appropriately to the different needs and situations of their clients.

Advancement

For social and human service assistants, additional education is almost always necessary for advancement. In general, advancement to case management or social work jobs requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human services, counseling, rehabilitation, social work, or a related field.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Social and human service assistants talk with clients about the challenges in their lives and assist them in getting help. These workers must be able to listen to their clients and to communicate the clients’ needs to organizations that can help them.

Compassion. Social and human service assistants often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Social and human service assistants must make their clients feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues. Assistants also build relationships with other service providers to become familiar with all of the resources that are available in their communities.

Organizational skills. Social and human service assistants must often complete lots of paperwork and work with many different clients. They must be organized in order to ensure that the paperwork is filed properly and that clients are getting the help they need.

Problem-solving skills. Social and human service assistants help clients find solutions to their problems. They must be able to listen carefully to their clients’ needs and offer practical solutions.

Time-management skills. Social and human service assistants often work with many clients. They must manage their time effectively to ensure that their clients are getting the attention they need.

Pay About this section

Social and Human Service Assistants

Median annual wages, May 2016

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

$43,020

Total, all occupations

$37,040

Social and human service assistants

$31,810

 

The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $31,810 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,640.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for social and human service assistants in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $38,670
State government, excluding education and hospitals 35,860
Individual and family services 30,680
Nursing and residential care facilities 28,420
Community and vocational rehabilitation services 28,340

Most social and human service assistants worked full time in 2016, and about 1 in 5 worked part time. Some work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Social and Human Service Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Social and human service assistants

16%

Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists

15%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of social and human service assistants is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and rising demand for social services is expected to drive demand for these workers.

An increase in the number of older adults is expected to result in growing demand for social services such as delivery of meals and adult daycare. Because social and human service assistants often arrange for these services, there will need to be more of them to meet this increased demand.

In addition, growth is expected as more people seek treatment for their addictions and more drug offenders are sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, demand should increase for social and human service assistants who work in treatment programs or work with people with addictions.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good, but should be best for those with a related social or human service postsecondary degree.

Employment projections data for social and human service assistants, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Social and human service assistants

21-1093 389,800 453,700 16 63,900 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of social and human service assistants.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $21,170
Health educators

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities.

See How to Become One $44,390
home health aides image

Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

High school diploma or equivalent $22,170
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists

Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome problems with family and other relationships.

Master's degree $49,170
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

Bachelor's degree $50,160
Rehabilitation counselors

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live independently. They work with clients to overcome or manage the personal, social, or psychological effects of disabilities on employment or independent living.

Master's degree $34,670
Social and community service managers

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public.

Bachelor's degree $64,680
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

See How to Become One $46,890
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

See How to Become One $42,150
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social and Human Service Assistants,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-and-human-service-assistants.htm (visited November 26, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.