California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Social and Human Service Assistants in San Diego County

May also be called: Advocates; Human Services Program Specialists; Mental Health Technicians; Addictions Counselor Assistants; Caseworkers; Independent Living Specialists; Activities of Daily Living Specialists; Case Managers; Family Development Specialists; Family Self-Sufficiency Specialists; Case Aides; Home Visitors; and Human Services Workers.

What Would I Do?

Social and Human Service Assistants provide many types of assistance to people in the community, from determining eligibility for welfare and health programs and counseling on child care to helping clients with physical and mental problems and those involved in drug and substance abuse. They help determine and locate appropriate social service agencies such as those providing health care and physical and mental rehabilitation. They work under the direction and supervision of nurses, counselors, social workers, psychologists, or other professionals and may be a member of a treatment team.

Many Social and Human Service Assistants serve clients in hospitals, halfway houses, detoxification centers, residential care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and outpatient clinics where they provide training in daily living skills, personal communication, and personal and vocational counseling.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Provide information and refer individuals to public or private agencies or community services for assistance.Customer and Personal Service
Keep records and prepare reports for owner or management concerning visits with clients.Writing
Visit individuals in homes or attend group meetings to provide information on agency services, requirements and procedures.Psychology
Advise clients regarding food stamps, child care, food, money management, sanitation, or housekeeping.Speaking
Submit reports and review reports or problems with superior.Reading Comprehension
Oversee day-to-day group activities of residents in institution.Problem Sensitivity
Interview individuals and family members to compile information on social, educational, criminal, institutional, or drug history.Active Listening
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Social and Human Service Assistants serve their clients in many different settings. They may work in offices, clinics, hospitals, group homes, shelters, sheltered workshops, and day programs. Many work under close supervision, while others work much of the time on their own, such as those who spend their time in the field visiting clients. Sometimes visiting clients can be dangerous even though most agencies do everything they can to ensure their workers’ safety. Most work a 40-hour week, although some who work in residential care facilities may be required to work night shifts and on weekends and holidays since staff must be on hand throughout the day and night.

While the work can be very rewarding, it can also be emotionally draining. Social and Human Service Assistants serve clients who may be hostile, physically or mentally ill, severely handicapped, or distressed. The clients may be located in less than ideal environments such as homeless camps and shelters. Understaffing and relatively low pay may add to the pressure. Turnover is reported to be high, especially among workers without academic preparation for this field.

Social and Human Service Assistants who work for the public sector may join the Service Employees International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Social and Human Service Assistant will appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. The Social and Human Service Assistant occupation satisfies those with social interests. Social occupations often involve helping or providing service to others. Workers in this occupation generally value relationships with people and providing support to others.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Social and Human Service Assistants in California is $36,593 annually, or $17.59 hourly. The median wage for Social and Human Service Assistants in San Diego County is $33,235 annually, or $15.98 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$28,416$36,593$48,878
San Diego County$26,488$33,235$40,235
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Most employers provide medical, dental, vision, and life insurance as well as vacation and sick leave. Many employers also offer retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Social and Human Service Assistants with postsecondary education in a relevant field should find excellent job opportunities. The demand for social and human services, as well as the growing elderly population, will continue to fuel this rapid growth. As a result of this shortage, many employers are looking to Social and Human Service Assistants to take on some of the responsibilities previously held by Social Workers. As State and local governments continue to contract with private agencies for delivery of some services, employment will grow faster in the private sector than in government. In addition, the shift of social-welfare policies from benefit-based programs to work-based initiatives will create a need for more Social and Human Service Assistants to teach job skills to people who are new or returning to the workforce.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Social and Human Service Assistants is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Social and Human Service Assistants are expected to increase by 19.7 percent, or 9,300 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

In San Diego County, the number of Social and Human Service Assistants is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Social and Human Service Assistants are expected to increase by 19.2 percent, or 500 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Social and Human Service Assistants
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2014-2024)
47,20056,5009,30019.79,300
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
2,6003,10050019.2680
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 930 new job openings per year is expected for Social and Human Service Assistants, plus an additional 930 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 1,850 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 50 new job openings per year is expected for Social and Human Service Assistants, plus an additional 68 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 118 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Social and Human Service Assistants
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2014-2024)
9309301,850
San Diego County
(2012-2022)
5068118
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Most employers will hire Social and Human Service Assistants with an associate’s degree or certificate in social work, human services, gerontology, or one of the social or behavioral sciences plus experience from volunteer work or work experience. A bachelor's degree in an appropriate human services field may be required for some jobs. Some employers may also require employees to have a valid California driver license or to pass a background investigation.

Employers prefer applicants who have a strong desire to help others, have effective communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility, and good time management skills. Many human services jobs involve direct contact with people who are vulnerable; therefore, patience and understanding are highly valued characteristics.

Educational and work experience requirements vary for the many different types of Social and Human Service Assistant jobs. Typically, high school graduates or those with some college education may be given extensive on-the-job training to work directly with clients, while college graduates may be assigned duties as counselors, program coordinators, case supervisors, and group home managers. Most employers provide their employees with some form of in-service training, such as seminars and workshops.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in this kind of work should take classes in social sciences, speech, English, and psychology. Leadership in school activities and volunteer work in community service can also be valuable.

Work Study Programs

There may be Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) available for this occupation. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Community Services, Family Services, Human Services, Social Work, and Youth Services.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

Social and Human Service Assistants work in a variety of industries. The largest industries employing Social and Human Service Assistants are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Individual and Family Services 40.5%
Local Government 16.9%
Vocational Rehabilitation Services 7.5%
Emergency and Other Relief Services 5.2%
Residential Mental Health Facilities 4.2%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Social and Human Service Assistants.

  • Alcoholism Information and Treatment Centers
  • Career & Vocational Counseling
  • Counseling Services
  • Family Services
  • Human Services Organizations
  • Mental Health Services
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Schools
  • Social Service Organizations

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Social and Human Service Assistants may promote to Occupational Therapist Assistants, Psychiatric Technicians, or Social Workers, with additional education. A bachelor or master’s degree in human services, counseling, rehabilitation, social work, or a related field is usually required to advance in this field. Higher level positions usually involve case management, supervisory, and administrative roles.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Social and Human Service Assistants with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Child, Family, and School Social WorkersGuide
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational CounselorsProfile
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social WorkersProfile
Mental Health CounselorsProfile
Occupational Therapy AssistantsProfile
Physical Therapist AssistantsGuide
Psychiatric TechniciansGuide
Rehabilitation CounselorsProfile
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder CounselorsProfile

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification21-1093
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Social and Human Service Assistants21-1093.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CSE
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Human Services, General 440000
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Human Services210400