Human Services Guide

The Breakdown: How to Become a Social Services Worker

So, how does one go about joining the social services workforce? While different states and localities can sometimes have variation in what they are looking for in a worker, certain traits are always highly valued by prospective employers. Probably the most helpful item on your resume is a Bachelor’s degree in a Social Sciences discipline such as: Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, Counseling or Human Services. One of these degrees is required for most entry or mid-level positions. Many schools in your area have excellent programs for these degrees to get you on the path to a career in social services.

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In addition to a degree, it is also helpful to have experience working with disadvantaged members of the community. This can be gained through volunteering with a variety of community resources such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, state agencies, human services non-profits and similar organizations. Actual experience in the field is valued almost as highly as a degree.

The key is being able to show experience working with individuals and groups with issues such as:

  • economically disadvantaged
  • seeking employment and job training
  • abuse and neglect
  • substance abuse
  • working with the aging and elderly
  • people with disabilities
  • prevention of drug abuse or illness
  • cultural competencies and diversity
  • working with those who have inadequate housing

Another highly valued skill set is to have strong bilingual and multilingual skills. The most valuable language to know in most of the US is Spanish. However, depending on your region of the country you may have immigrants who speak other languages such as:

  • Russian
  • French (many parts of the Caribbean and West Africa speak French)
  • Serbian
  • Croatian
  • Chinese
  • Vietnamese
  • Somali

These are just a few of the languages that are valuable to know in human services. It is best to find out what additional languages are spoken in your local community to determine which language you might study to bolster your resume.

Strong computer skills are a must in the Social Work field. From writing case work narratives on eligibility decisions, to database entry and issuance of electronic benefits almost all work is done on computer systems. Being able to show strong skills in typing and familiarity with MS Word, Excel and Internet search skills are a must.

If you really want to boost your career, you will want a Masters in Social Work. There are schools near you that offer programs for this vital degree. A Masters degree in Social Work will give you a huge edge finding employment in Human Services.