South Dakota

Human Services Education in South Dakota

Located in the Midwest and one of the least populated states in the union, South Dakota still has plenty of need for human services workers. Whether you work in a Sioux City hospital as a child life specialist, or one of South Dakota’s high schools as a vocational counselor, opportunities abound in the field of human services. South Dakota has need of human services workers and in this sector you have the opportunity to not only have a fulfilling job, but also give back to your community.

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Few decisions in life are as important as determining your career path. In order to make an informed decision, it is crucial to fully investigate your career options and educational requirements. Here at, we have created a resource that includes licensure requirements of all states including South Dakota. We also have a career overview section with information about: job responsibilities, salary ranges, impact on your community, educational and licensure requirements. With this information you will have the knowledge necessary to make a decision with confidence.

When you have completed your studies and earned your Bachelor’s degree from a South Dakota university or college human services program, you will be able to apply for one of following careers in South Dakota:

  • Licensed Social Work associate (Bachelor or Associates in social work from a CSWE accredited school)
    • Licensure laws in South Dakota can be complex, however we have created an article that makes the process straight forward which you can find here:
  • Licensed Social Worker (Bachelor of social work from a CSWE accredited school)
  • Child Life Specialist (Bachelor of Science, Child Life Specialist)
    • With over 70 major hospitals South Dakota has need for well-educated Child Life specialists to aid their children in dealing with the emotional stresses involved with medical treatments which are often can be frightening and painful for children.
  • Gerontology Specialist (Bachelor of Science, Gerontology)
    • As our nation ages due to Baby Boomers shifting demographically into elder status, the need for Gerontology Specialist Workers at Hospitals and Long term care facilities will only rise. Here is the state’s Adult Services and Aging website for more information on this sector:
  • Substance abuse counselor (Bachelor of Sociology, Social Work or Psychology)
    • In South Dakota, certification is required to pursue this profession and you can learn more about it here:
  • Behavioral Management Aide (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology)
  • South Dakota boasts more than 165 school districts, often they have need of Behavioral Management Aide’s to assist children in resolving their painful emotional and behavioral patterns so they can return to their classrooms and flourish as students. You can learn more about this sector at the state’s Department of Education website:
  • Probation Officer and Juvenile Court Liaison (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology or Criminal Justice)
    • If you are interested in these occupations you will find that the Department of Corrections website is a great storehouse for information on these and other Criminal Justice careers:
  • Rehabilitation Case Worker (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology)
    • Working with people who have disabilities can be a very challenging but extremely fulfilling career. As you help people find their own inner strengths and talents you can sit back with pride as you watch them achieve their dream of finding sustainable employment. The Office of Voc. Rehab. is a great place to start researching this career:
  • Community Outreach Worker (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology)
    • Often big businesses will have as much need of Community Outreach Workers as Non-profits.
  • Case management aide (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology)
  • Juvenile court liaison (Bachelor of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology or Criminal Justice)

If you go on to earn a Master’s degree from a South Dakota college or university, you will be able to choose a career from one of the following jobs:

  • Child welfare case manager (Masters in Business Administration, Social Work, Psychology or Sociology)
  • Certified social worker (Master of Social Work from a CSWE accredited school + field experience)
  • Certified independent practice social worker (Master of Social Work from a CSWE accredited)
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (Master’s in Counseling, Psychology or Marriage and Family Therapy)
  • Social and community service manager (Masters in Business Administration, Social Work, Psychology or Sociology)

If leading a clinical research team or a career in academia interests you, then you will probably want to earn your Ph.D. With a doctorate you will be eligible to join the staff at one of South Dakota’s universities and train students in your chosen discipline. A doctorate is useful in many other career paths as well. From opening up your own mental health practice, to joining a human services agency management team, your options will expand tremendously with a Ph.D. The path towards your doctorate is a challenging one, but will ultimately reward you with a greatly increased earning power, expert status in your field and a wide open field of career choices.

The first step on your academic journey is to choose a career path that incorporates your natural talents and aligns with your interests. By reading our section on career overviews you can learn: duties of the position, the job’s impact on the community, salary ranges, educational and licensure requirements. Using this resource you will be able to make an informed decision on a career path that works for you. Once you know what your educational requirements are you can look at our database of schools both online and located in South Dakota, to find an accredited school that meets your needs. When you know what school and program are right for you, you will want to contact your school and learn about the specific application requirements for the program you are interested in. One final thing to consider, if you are interested in advanced licensure, is post-graduate field experience. Making a plan for after you graduate, to fulfill your field experience requirements, is something you will want to keep in mind as you plan your future.