HDP Careers: Social and Public Service

Social and Public Service workers are a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people’s lives.  Careers in social and public service appeal to persons with a strong desire to make life easier and more fulfilling for others. Workers in this industry usually are good communicators and enjoy interacting with people. They provide their constituents with vital services, such as transportation, public safety, health care, social support, education, employment, utilities, courts, legislation, law enforcement, community food and housing, emergency, and other relief services. Excluding education and hospitals, State and local governments employ about 7.9 million workers, placing them among the largest employers in the economy. Seven out of 10 of these employees work for local governments, such as counties, cities, special districts, and towns. In addition to these 7.9 million workers, large numbers of State and local workers work in public education. Many State and local workers also work in public hospitals. Additionally, about 61,000 establishments in the private sector provided social assistance in 2004.

Social/Public Service and Human Development

Most students interested in Human Development have a strong interest in helping people.  Social and Public Service provide a very direct, applied approach to supporting positive social development, both individually and within communities.  People with a developmental background have an excellent understanding of the type of services needed for individuals, families, and the community in order to foster healthy environments for people to learn and grow. Positions within this field can be “hands-on” such as social work or law enforcement.  However, they can also be of a more planning, organizing, managing, or even research role, such as public health, public policy, or government.

Training and Credentialing

The education level and experience needed by social and public service workers varies by occupation. Taking part in volunteer work and helping to provide community services are valuable ways in which to establish vital community support and networks. Many employers prefer social and human service assistants with some related work experience or college courses in human services, social work, multiculturalism, or one of the social or behavioral sciences. Other employers prefer an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in human services or social work. A number of employers provide in-service training, such as seminars and workshops. For most professional jobs, a college degree is required for entry level positions.  A master’s degree is widely recommended, but not always required, for management positions.

Career Descriptions

Social Services: Child and Family Social Worker

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help parents find services, such as child care, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to get families back together. Clinical social workers that specialize in families provide mental health care to help children and families cope with changes in their lives, such as divorce or other family problems.

Social workers are employed in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, and private practices. They generally work full time and may need to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and two years of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$44,200/year Bachelor's degree   faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

Trade Organizations :
American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work
National Association of Social Workers

For more information about accredited baccalaureate and master’s levels social work degree programs, visit
Council on Social Work Education

For more information about licensure requirements, visit
Association of Social Work Boards

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Child, Family, and School Social Workers
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Healthcare Social Workers
Social Workers, All Other

Social Services: School Social Worker

School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school. Social workers generally work full time and may need to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. Most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work or related field

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$44,200/year Bachelor's degree  faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

Trade Organizations :
National Association of Social Workers

For more information about accredited baccalaureate and master’s levels social work degree programs, visit
Council on Social Work Education

For more information about licensure requirements, visit
Association of Social Work Boards

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Child, Family, and School Social Workers
Social Workers, All Other

Social Services: Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers—also called licensed clinical social workers—diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression. They provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy; they work with clients to develop strategies to change behavior or cope with difficult situations; and they refer clients to other resources or services, such as support groups or other mental health professionals. Clinical social workers can develop treatment plans with the client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals and may adjust the treatment plan if necessary based on their client’s progress.

Many clinical social workers work in private practice. In these settings, clinical social workers have administrative and recordkeeping tasks such as working with insurance companies to receive payment for their services. Some work in a group practice with other social workers or mental health professionals.

Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and two years of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$44,200/year Master's degree  faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

Trade Organizations :
American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work
National Association of Social Workers

For more information about accredited baccalaureate and master’s levels social work degree programs, visit
Council on Social Work Education

For more information about licensure requirements, visit
Association of Social Work Boards

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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Healthcare Social Workers
Social Workers, All Other

Social Services: Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or health care. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities.  In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health.

Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work:

  • Geriatric social workers help senior citizens and their families. They help clients find services, such as programs that provide older adults with meals or with home health care. In some cases, they provide information about assisted living facilities or nursing homes or work with older adults in those settings. They help clients and their families make plans for possible health complications or where clients will live if they can no longer care for themselves.
  • Hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing pain and other symptoms associated with serious illness. Hospice is a type of palliative care for people who are dying. Social workers in this setting provide and find services such as support groups or grief counselors to help patients and their families cope with the illness or disease.
  • Medical social workers in hospitals help patients and their families by linking patients with resources in the hospital and in their own community. They may work with medical staff to create discharge plans, make referrals to community agencies, facilitate support groups, or conduct followup visits with patients once they have been discharged.
Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$44,200/year Bachelor's degree  faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

Trade Organizations :
National Association of Social Workers

For more information about accredited baccalaureate and master’s levels social work degree programs, visit
Council on Social Work Education

For more information about licensure requirements, visit
Association of Social Work Boards

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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Healthcare Social Workers
Social Workers, All Other

Public Health: Health Educator/Community Health Workers

Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. Community health workers collect data and discuss health concerns with members of specific populations or communities. Health educators and community health workers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government, doctors’ offices, private businesses, and colleges. They generally work full time.Health educators need a bachelor’s degree. Many employers require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential. Requirements for community health workers vary, although they typically have at least a high school diploma and must complete a brief period of on-the-job training. Some states have certification programs for community health workers.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$41,830/year Bachelor's degree  faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Health Educator/Community Health Workers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm

Trade Organizations :
For more information about health educators and community health workers, visit
Society for Public Health Education
American Public Health Association

For more information about the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential, visit
National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc.

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Health Educators
Community Health Workers

Public Health: Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists investigate the causes of disease and other public health problems to prevent them from spreading or from happening again. They report their findings to public policy officials and to the general public. Epidemiologists who work in private industry commonly work for health insurance companies or pharmaceutical companies. Those in non-profit companies often do public advocacy work. Local government epidemiologists study one or more of the following public health areas: Infectious diseases, Bioterrorism/emergency response, Maternal and child health, Chronic diseases, Environmental health, Injury, Occupational health, Substance abuse, or Oral health.

Epidemiologists need at least a master’s degree from an accredited postsecondary institution. Most epidemiologists have a master’s in public health or a related field, and some have a Ph.D. in epidemiology.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$63,010 per year Master’s degree Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Epidemiologist  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/epidemiologists.htm

Trade Organizations:

For more information about epidemiologists, including schools offering education in epidemiology, visit
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

For more information about epidemiology careers in the federal government, visit
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public Health: Community dietitians and nutritionists

Community dietitians and nutritionists develop programs and counsel the public on topics related to food and nutrition. They often work with specific groups of people, such as adolescents or the elderly. They work in public health clinics, government and nonprofit agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and other settings. Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. They advise people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal. Most dietitians and nutritionists have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and have participated in supervised training (a human development major would need to pursue a masters in nutrition). Also, many states require dietitians and nutritionists to be licensed.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$53,250 per year     Bachelor’s degree   Faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Dietitians and nutritionists 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm

Trade Organizations: 

For a list of academic programs, scholarships, and other information about dietitians, visit
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

For information on the Registered Dietitian (RD) exam and other specialty credentials, visit
Commission on Dietetic Registration

For information on the Certified Nutrition Specialist exam and credential, visit
Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists

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Dietitians and Nutritionists

Justice: Lawyers

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes.The majority of lawyers work in private and corporate legal offices. Some work for local, state, and federal governments. The majority work full time, and many work long hours. All lawyers must have a law degree and must also typically pass a state’s written bar examination. Lawyers may have different titles and different duties, depending on where they work.

Criminal law attorneys are also known as prosecutors and defense attorneys:
Prosecutors typically work for the government to file a lawsuit, or charge, against an individual or corporation accused of violating the law.
Defense attorneys work for either individuals or the government (as public defenders) to represent and defend the accused.

Government counsels commonly work in government agencies. They write and interpret laws and regulations and set up procedures to enforce them. Government counsels also write legal reviews on agencies' decisions. They argue civil and criminal cases on behalf of the government.

Corporate counsels, also called in-house counsels, are lawyers who work for corporations. They advise a corporation's executives about legal issues related to the corporation's business activities. These issues may involve patents, government regulations, contracts with other companies, property interests, taxes, or collective-bargaining agreements with unions.

Legal aid lawyers work for private, nonprofit organizations for disadvantaged people. They generally handle civil cases, such as those about leases, job discrimination, and wage disputes, rather than criminal cases.

Lawyers often specialize in a particular area. The following are some examples of types of lawyers:

  • Environmental lawyers deal with issues and regulations that are related to the environment. They may represent advocacy groups, waste disposal companies, and government agencies to make sure they comply with the relevant laws.
  • Tax lawyers handle a variety of tax-related issues for individuals and corporations. Tax lawyers may help clients navigate complex tax regulations, so that they pay the appropriate tax on items such as income, profits, or property. For example, they may advise a corporation on how much tax it needs to pay from profits made in different states to comply with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.
  • Intellectual property lawyers deal with the laws related to inventions, patents, trademarks, and creative works, such as music, books, and movies. An intellectual property lawyer may advise a client about whether it is okay to use published material in the client’s forthcoming book.
  • Family lawyers handle a variety of legal issues that pertain to the family. They may advise clients regarding divorce, child custody, and adoption proceedings.
  • Securities lawyers work on legal issues arising from the buying and selling of stocks, ensuring that all disclosure requirements are met. They may advise corporations that are interested in listing in the stock exchange through an initial public offering (IPO) or buying shares in another corporation.
  • Litigation lawyers handle all lawsuits and disputes between parties. These could be contract disputes, personal injury disputes, and real estate and property disputes. Litigation lawyers may specialize in a certain area, such as personal injury law, or may be a general lawyer for all types of disputes and lawsuits.
Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$113,530 per year     Doctoral or professional degree  As fast as average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Lawyers 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm

Trade Organizations: 
For more information about law schools and a career in law, visit
American Bar Association
National Association for Law Placement

For more information about the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the law school application process, visit
Law School Admission Council

For a list of state and jurisdiction admission bar offices, visit
National Conference of Bar Examiners

The requirements for admission to the bar in a particular state or other jurisdiction may be obtained at the state capital, from the clerk of the Supreme Court, or from the administrator of the State Board of Bar Examiners.

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Lawyers

Justice: Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes. Police and detective work can be physically demanding, stressful, and dangerous. Police officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Working around the clock in shifts is common. Education requirements range from a high school diploma to a college, or higher, degree. Most police and detectives must graduate from their agency’s training academy before completing a period of on-the-job training. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, usually at least 21 years old, and able to meet rigorous physical and personal qualifications.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$56,980 per year High school diploma or equivalent  slower than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Police and Detectives 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm

Trade Organizations: 
For general information about sheriffs, visit
National Sheriffs' Association

For information about chiefs of police, visit
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)

For more information about careers in state and local law enforcement, visit
The Bureau of Justice Assistance and IACP websites

For more information about federal law enforcement, visit
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Marshals Service
United States Secret Service
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

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Immigration and Customs Inspectors
Intelligence Analysts
Fish and Game Wardens
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers
Police Patrol Officers
Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
Transit and Railroad Police
Police Identification and Records Officers
Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Police Detectives

Justice: Correctional Officers

Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in a jail or prison. Working in a correctional institution can be stressful and dangerous. Correctional officers and jailers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses, often resulting from confrontations with inmates. Because jail and prison security must be provided 24 hours a day, officers work all hours of the day and night, weekends, and holidays. Correctional officers go through a training academy and then are assigned to a facility for on-the-job training. Although qualifications vary by state and agency, all agencies require a high school diploma. Some federal agencies also require some college education or related work experience.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$38,970 per year High school diploma or equivalent  slower than average

For More Informati

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Correctional Officers 
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm

Trade Organizations: 
For more information about correctional officers, visit
American Correctional Association
American Jail Association

For information about career opportunities for correctional officers at the federal level, visit
Federal Bureau of Prisons

Information on obtaining a position as a correctional officer with the federal government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the federal government's official employment information system.

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Bailiffs
Correctional Officers and Jailers

Justice: Probation Officers

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with and monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes.Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with criminal offenders, some of whom may be dangerous. Workers may be assigned to fieldwork in high-crime areas or in institutions where there is a risk of violence or communicable disease. As a result, the work can be stressful and dangerous. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most employers require candidates to pass oral, written, and psychological exams.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$48,190 per year Bachelor's degree little or no change

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Probation Officers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm

Trade Organizations :
American Probation and Parole Association

For more information about criminal justice job opportunities in your area, contact the departments of corrections, criminal justice, or probation for individual states.

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Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Public Relations Specialist

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. Public relations specialists usually work in offices. Some attend community activities. Long workdays are common, as is overtime. Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, English, or business.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$54,170 per year Bachelor's degree as fast as average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Public Relations Specialist
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/public-relations-specialists.htm

Trade Organizations :
For more information about public relations managers, including professional certification in public relations, visit
Public Relations Society of America
Public Relations Student Society of America
International Association of Business Communicators

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Public Relations Specialists

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization. Public relations and fundraising managers generally work in offices during regular business hours. However, many must travel to give speeches and meet with individuals who are important to their organization. Many work more than 40 hours per week. Public relations and fundraising managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and some positions may require a master’s degree. Many years of related work experience is also necessary.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$95,450 per year Bachelor's degree as fast as average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Public Relations Managers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm

Trade Organizations :
For more information about public relations and fundraising managers, including professional certification in public relations, visit
CFRE International
Public Relations Society of America
International Association of Business Communicators

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Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Social and community service managers

Social and community service managers coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They direct and lead staff who provide social services to the public. Social and community service managers work for nonprofit organizations, private for-profit social service companies, and government agencies. Most work full time.Social and community service managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and some work experience. However, many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s degree.

Median Salary Minimum Education Level Job Growth outlook
$59,970/year Bachelor's degree  faster than average

For More Information

US Dept of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social and community service managers
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm

Trade Organizations :
Network for Social Work Management
Council on Social Work Education
National Association of Social Workers

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Social and Community Service Managers