Detailed Guide forSocial and Human Service Assistants in California
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|
|Task||Skill 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|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Psychology||Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Reading Comprehension||Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
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?
The median wage in 2016 for Social and Human Service Assistants in California is $36,593 annually, or $17.59 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
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.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Social and Human Service Assistants
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|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.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Social and Human Service Assistants
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|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 Title||Percent 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%|
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
- 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.
Below is a list of occupations related to Social and Human Service Assistants with links to more information.
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||Guide|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||Profile|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||Profile|
|Mental Health Counselors||Profile|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||Profile|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||Guide|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Profile|
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.