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Five Places You Can Use Your Human Services Degree

4 February 2012 Written by: Adrienne Barfield No Comment
Five Places You Can Use Your Human Services Degree

Like it or not, many students base their decisions about what subjects to major in on the available job opportunities in that particular area. And really, no one can blame them. With the price tag for a four year college degree coming in at more than six figures in most cases – and even more when you add in an advanced degree – post-school employment is a highly important consideration.

One subject area that has plenty of job opportunities and is projected to be a strong employment center in the years to come is human services, especially in the government sector. Whether you hold a human services degree, a degree in a related field like sociology or social work, or have gone the full distance and earned a master in public health or another related subject, the government is one of the best places to find jobs in this field.

Some of the agencies that hire human services professionals include:

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services

Under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) oversees the federal healthcare programs: Medicaid, which provides healthcare services for low-income Americans and Medicare, which provides healthcare for Americans over age 65 or who are disabled. With locations in every state in the country, CMS hires experienced human services professionals to fill important roles; you might serve as an analyst who helps shape public healthcare policy, a health insurance specialist who manages CMS’s relationships with health insurance companies, or, if you hold an advanced degree in public health and a nursing license, a nurse consultant who provides guidance and education on health-related issues.

Administration on Aging

The Administration on Aging (AoA) manages services on local, state and federal levels that allow older Americans to maintain their independence and a fulfilled life as they age. With a human services degree, you can work for the AoA in Washington, D.C., or with one of the hundreds of associated agencies around the country providing services to older Americans. You might also work on a national level, providing research and analysis on issues that affect older people that helps shape policy and allows for the development of both new programs and services.

Administration for Children and Families

One of the most common areas that human services and public health graduates find employment is in local and state agencies associated with the Administration for Children and Families. This division of the Department of Health and Human Services manages many programs that millions of Americans use every day, such as food assistance, welfare benefits, child care benefits and Head Start. Working for this agency, you might be a caseworker, helping families navigate the often confusing process of accessing benefits or services; a counselor; or even a public health nurse or educator, assisting families build the skills and knowledge they need to be healthy and productive members of the community.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is largely a funding and educational department, providing funding and the latest education and research in the area of behavioral health to local, state and nonprofit agencies. Many of the opportunities with this agency are administrative in nature; you may serve as a researcher or analyst, a grant administrator or statistician.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For those seeking a Master of Public Health degree, the CDC is a natural fit. The largest organization devoted to promoting and protecting public health, the CDC offers opportunities for epidemiologists, health educators, public health information specialists, biologists, and more.

All positions with government agencies are competitive and most have strict requirements and qualifications for employment. However, the rewards are great, as you’ll have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge you gained in school on a daily basis, as well as to make a measurable difference in the lives of others. So be sure to consider government agencies when you are beginning your job search; you may find the exact opportunity that leads to a long and fulfilling career in human services.

Adrienne Barfield is pursuing an online human services degree. She wants to use her degree to help women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

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