Human Services Worker


Human services workers is a generic term for people performing jobs such as social service technician, case management aide, social work assistant, residential counselor, alcohol or drug abuse counselor, mental health technician, child abuse worker, community outreach worker, or gerontology aide. These individuals generally work under the direction of social workers or, in some cases, psychologists.

Human service workers play a variety of roles in community settings. They may organize and lead group activities or assist clients in need of counseling or crisis intervention. In psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation programs, human service workers may help clients master everyday living skills, and teach them how to communicate more effectively and get along better with others. Substance abuse counselors help people who are physiologically or psychologically dependent on alcohol or drugs, deal with their dependency. They also help family members.


Potential Employers

  • State and local government agencies and programs
  • Individual and family service organizations
  • Vocational rehabilitation services
  • Mental health facilities
  • Group homes
  • Substance abuse facilities

Job Outlook

Employment of human service workers is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due in large part to the aging population and increased demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment.


  • Strong desire to help others
  • Ability to work with a variety of people
  • Ability to be patient and understanding
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong sense of responsibility
  • Ability to manage time effectively



Certificate or associate programs that last 18 months to 2 years, offer training in human services, mental health, and substance abuse counseling.  There are also bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs in human services administration.  Most programs have a core curriculum that trains students to observe patients and record information, conduct patient interviews, implement treatment plans, employ problem-solving techniques, handle crisis intervention matters, and use proper case management and referral procedures.  Many programs utilized field work and some require completion of a supervised internship.

Licensure is required for alcohol and drug abuse counselors.  An applicant for a license to practice must complete high school or equivalent, complete an approved program of drug/alcohol counseling and pass a written and oral exam.

Programs in Nebraska

Related / Links

Other careers that require similar skills:

Professional Associations

Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Social and Human Service Assistants, on the Internet at