What is a Social and Human Services Assistant in Social Work?

A social and human services assistant in social work may take on a variety of tasks that helps a social worker provide services to clients. The term can be an umbrella for a number of different jobs including a youth worker, a life skills counselor or a community outreach worker. The assistant may work closely with a social worker, or the position may be one that has relatively little supervision.

Types of Jobs

An assistant in the area of social work might work with specific populations such as addicts, older people, veterans or immigrants. On the other hand, instead of specific populations, the job might focus on people facing a particular life crisis such as divorce, unemployment or illness. A social and human services assistant in social work might assist former inmates in reintegrating into life outside of prison, assist mentally ill people in accessing needed services or help people with disabilities find jobs.

Becoming a Social and Human Services Assistant

There is a range of educational requirements for this type of job depending on the position. While it is possible to move into the field with just a high school diploma, some employers require some college education, and some positions will require a master's degree in an area such as social work, counseling or human services. For people who have started out with a high school diploma or associate's degree, further education may be necessary for advancement in the field.

Work Environments

A social and human services assistant in social work may work for a government agency or for a nonprofit. Shelters, hospitals and group homes are also typical settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that because of a growing population of older people and an increased need for services among people in general, this job is expected to grow faster than average, and people who enter this field have good employment prospects.

How They Differ From Social Workers

These assistants may work closely alongside social workers, and at a glance, in some areas, the work they do may look very similar to that of social workers. In fact, they may have a similar level of education to social workers although usually they have somewhat less education and training. Social workers are usually required to be licensed. Social workers can also provide therapy and counseling that assistants may not be qualified to give. Another difference is that assistants cannot diagnose and treat emotional or mental health issues while social workers can.

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Assistants hold extremely important positions within the field of social work, and some people may remain in this type of position throughout their careers. However, others may begin their careers as assistants and decide to move into a social worker career as a result. Whether it serves as a lifelong position or a person eventually gets the education, training and necessary licensing to become a licensed social worker, a job as a social and human services assistant in social work can be a fulfilling way to make a living while helping others.