October 20, 2011
Human service workers provide a variety of services aimed at improving the lives of their clients. Although duties vary, all human service workers perform many of the same basic tasks. They evaluate a client's needs, create a treatment plan, and put the plan into action.
Case workers and case managers assess the needs of clients and work with them to develop a treatment plan. These workers, who are sometimes called social and human service assistants, help clients in choosing among suitable resources and then follow up to ensure that the services provided are appropriate. There were 130,210 workers employed as social and human service assistants in May, 2010, and their median annual wages were $26,550. (Median wages are the midpoint in a distribution of wages from lowest to highest; half the workers earn more, and half earn less, than the median wage.)
Counselors provide individual and group counseling to help clients with marital difficulties or other problems or in making decisions, such as about career options. Counselors may diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. Some specialize in working with specific populations, such as children and families or veterans.
Psychologists diagnose and treat emotional and mental disorders. They provide therapy to individuals, groups, and families. They may design, or assist other human service workers in developing, individual treatment plans for clients.
Social workers help clients cope with or solve everyday problems, such as difficulty getting organized. After talking with clients, the social worker may provide strategies to help them modify their behaviors or environments.
These employment and wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. To learn more about human service workers, see "Helping those in need: Human service workers" in the fall 2011 edition of the Occupational Outlook Quarterly. That issue also includes "Work for play: Careers in video game development."