How to Know Human Services is NOT for You: Three Keys to Watch Out For
Many people are drawn to the human services profession for many reasons. The most common reason is a strong desire to help those who are in need. This is a noble and honorable reason to enter the field.
However, there is much to learn about human services as a career field. The field of human services industry is extremely broad and encompasses a wide range of service delivery environments staffed by a variety of human services professionals. There is no easy way to define human services as a career field. The human services industry is extremely demanding, and one that does not provide many of the benefits offered by other careers. It is not a glamorous career choice, and requires tremendous dedication and perseverance. However, when you work in human services you work directly with people who are in need of support, understanding, and relief in the midst of adversity. You can help change lives and communities for the better. You can make a difference. These are benefits that few other careers offer.
Where did human services come from? This field of work is as old as human history. Most cultures worldwide value and respect acts of helping other people who are less fortunate, or who have come upon very difficult circumstances. Throughout history this concept has been shared by most religions, and has inspired many to selflessly serve humanity as a career choice.
In our modern society, human services are a vital and extremely important part of how we meet the needs of those in need. In a sense, those who provide human services are “helping hands” that we extend to each other as a society. This work can provide intangible rewards that transcend dollars and cents through the satisfaction of doing what is right for the benefit of others.
Working in the field of human services requires more than the simple desire to earn a living. It truly requires special qualities. If you do not have the following three qualities you should reconsider pursuing a career in human services.
- Empathy: Probably the most important of these qualities is empathy. Empathy goes far beyond simply understanding what is going on with a client. Rather, it is the ability to “walk a mile in their shoes,” and personally relate with a client’s situation. If you do not possess empathy you are probably not cut out for a career in human services.
- Ethics: A characteristic that touches every aspect of life is ethics. Human services workers confront extremely difficult situations on a regular basis. Clients who caught in a crisis situation need help from those who are composed under pressure and wise in judgment. These situations require clear thinking and a commitment to “do the right thing” in the midst of adversity. If you do not have ethics, or you are unable to do what is right under pressure, then working in a position that requires it would not be a good fit.
- Patience: In any form of human interaction, patience and listening skills are essential to establishing relationships and earning trust. A common shortcoming for many is the lack of patient interest when communicating or interacting with others. Your clients need you to be able to listen to what they are saying and to be patient while they explain their needs. It would be close to impossible to work in the field of human services without these qualities.
There are many professions available in choosing a human services degree, including counselors, outreach workers, advocates, teachers, case managers, behavior specialists and administrators, among others. Remember, long hours and modest financial compensation is the norm. You won’t be able to get rich quick in this line of work.
To succeed as a human service professional you need to be committed to your career. That’s good advice no matter what you do in life. As you pursue your education and consider human services as a career field, take time to consider these things. This will help you make a good decision, and ensure that the path you are pursuing is right for you.