According to USA Today, in an article reporting on research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, college graduates earn nearly 50 percent more than workers who never attended college. While positively impacting your career, financial stability, personal skillsets, and the lives of your family members, the decision to pursue your degree can lead you to a successful future and allow you to begin building the potential to make a difference in the world.
Choosing to invest in your education by earning a college degree is the first step in bettering your life and your community. However, there’s still another important decision you must face: which major will best support your career goals?
What is Human Services?
When it comes to choosing a degree that will leverage a rewarding career based on helping others and bettering your community, explore a blueprint of a human services major. With a broad definition, the National Organization of Human Services (NOHS) states that this field uniquely approaches the objective of meeting human needs “…through an interdisciplinary knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations.”
The responsibilities of professionals working in the field of human services involve assisting individuals, families, groups and communities to function as effectively as possible in the major domains of living. This includes, but is not limited to, assisting individuals with maintaining job stability, helping family members establish lasting relationships, and working with groups and communities to improve access to public health and mental health treatment. According to the NOHS, human services work is best conducted when the industry’s professionals utilize the Community Support Skills Standards, which include the following categories of responsibilities:
- Participant empowerment
- Community networking
To successfully abide by the Community Support Skills Standards, human services professionals must have the desire to serve others through direct communication while demonstrating a variety of leadership and critical thinking skills that can best be developed as a human services major.
Such skills can be utilized to address the following vital components of careers in this field:
- Understanding Human Systems
The NOHS states that the first standard of practice in the human services field is to identify and build on the strengths of individual clients and their communities. To successfully execute this standard, human services professionals must fully understand the individual, community and group structures involved in each case.
- Promoting Healthy Function and Treatment/Rehabilitation
Individuals seeking assistance from human services professionals are often seeking guidance and looking for options to better their lives, which is why these professionals must practice leadership and set examples for their clients. For example, human service professionals may promote self-awareness and provide information about available treatment and rehabilitation options.
- Conducting Problem Analysis and Providing Assistance, Referral, Advocacy, and/or Direct Counseling
Human services majors develop the skills necessary to promote positive change by studying advanced techniques of assessment. These allow professionals to use their clients’ perspectives to identify underlying issues and to construct the basis for a treatment plan. The NOHS suggests that “workers must know how to work with consumers and families to weave together a vast array of community resources, specialized assistance and natural supports to promote well-being, empowerment and community membership.” Because professionals in this field often work in poverty-stricken communities that are often suffering from high rates of crime and drug abuse, human services workers must be capable of identifying the roots of large problems so they can assist in ending them and preventing them from reoccurring. This often involves directly communicating with individuals, connecting them to the right available resources, and ensuring enough resources are being provided.
- Planning and Implementing Interventions when Necessary
Implementing interventions is often a component of the work of human services professionals. A major standard of the NOHS, these professionals strive to identify possible life-threatening situations. In dangerous circumstances in which the life of a client is at risk, human services professionals are required to break client confidentiality and utilize the assistance of law enforcement or mental health professionals.
What Type of Person Becomes a Human Services Major?
While having a strong work ethic and career dedication are important traits of all professionals, it’s important that human services workers have specific traits that demonstrate their compassion and persistence.
The following are characteristics Human Services majors must have to be successful students and professionals:
- A Genuine Concern for Humanity
To effectively communicate with individuals, human services workers must demonstrate trustworthiness while offering true compassion to their clients. It is important these professionals take a genuine interest in those they are helping and carry a true determination to help clients improve their quality of life.
- An Honest Belief in Community Improvement
It is difficult for jobs to be completed efficiently when workers do not believe in the work they are doing. To be successful in this industry, human services professionals must be capable of planning reasonable approaches to problem-solving, and they must believe that a community can be revitalized.
- High Patience Levels
Those working in human services must understand that their work takes time. The task of rebuilding communities and the lives of individuals is often lengthy and can sometimes take years, making patience a vital factor in this industry.