Careers for Social Good: The Difference Between Human Services and Social Work

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A career in both human services and social work will provide you with a great way to get involved in social good and allow you to fulfill your goals of helping others. But while there are some similarities between the two social service careers, there are also many differences. In this installment of the Careers for Social Good series, we will explore these differences in order to help direct individuals who are trying to find the best career path.

Careers in Human Services

Students who pursue a human services degree are usually interested in working in the social services field in an administrative or managerial capacity. Often, these individuals have years of experience in some kind of social services profession and are looking to begin working in a higher-level position. Nonprofit organizations, for-profit service providers with a social mission and government agencies are just a few of the different places human services professionals could find themselves working. Human services professionals are prepared to work as human services managers, program developers, researchers, planners, supervisors, fundraisers and grant writers, to name a few of the possible career paths.

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The Difference Between the Human Services and Social Work

Both human services and social work are extremely important to the social services world, but they serve the needs of people in different ways. A human services professional focuses on the bigger picture. For example, they will help plan programs to serve the needs of a particular population, they will work in administrative roles making sure things run smoothly in their particular social services agency, and they will provide supervision and direction to the individuals who work with them. Social workers often work in administrative roles, too, but they can also work directly with clients to carry out social programs, connecting them with necessary services, assessing their needs and providing counseling, which human services professionals do not.

If you are interested in an administrative role that involves planning, supervision and research, a career in human services might be a good fit for you. If you want the flexibility to either work directly with the populations you would like to help on a day-to-day basis or work in administrative capacities, then social work might fit your goals.

All social services professions are important in promoting social good and helping people in need. Each career provides a different and unique way to serve vulnerable populations. To decide which career path in social services is best for you, you must first imagine how you would like to spend your working hours and figure out which tasks would be the most interesting and rewarding to you personally.