Career pathways-Exploring human service careers

Do you have a desire to help those in need? If so, consider a field in human services.

Are you interested in communication, psychology and language arts classes? Would you describe yourself as a good listener, caring, open-minded and outgoing? Do you like helping others solve problems? In your free time, would you enjoy tutoring children, helping with a community project or being involved in the school council? If you answered yes to some of these questions, then a career in human services might be right for you.

The field of human services covers a broad range of careers, all with one main thing in common: the desire to help people in need. People in need come from every walk of life, are of every age and have a broad range of issues. In selecting a human service career, you may want to ask yourself if you have a preference for:

  • The type of client or population you want to serve
    • Such as infants, toddlers, children, youth, adults, elderly, mentally ill, disabled, immigrants, veterans, homeless, incarcerated individual or families.
  • The issues you want to help address
    • Such as education, remediation, addiction, mental health, mental illness, poverty, shelter, homelessness, crime prevention, public safety or employment.
  • The setting in which you want to work
    • Such as a day care center, preschool, elementary, middle or high school, community college, university, correctional facility, halfway house, nonprofit, human service agency, or youth development organization.

Your answer to these questions will help determine a more specific occupation and the qualifications, duties and training required to enter the field.

Are you interested in feeding, dressing or playing with children? Become a childcare worker. Do you want to teach students basic academic, social and other developmental skills? Become an elementary school teacher. Does maintaining order and protecting life and property appeal to you? Become a law enforcement officer. Do you want to help people manage and overcome their problems within their family and relationships? Become a marriage and family therapist.

How can a young person get hands on experience exploring human service related careers? Michigan State University (MSU) and Michigan State University Extension offer some very unique opportunities by joining 4-H. Through 4-H a youth can become involved in a wide range of human service related project areas including child development, citizenship and civic engagement, community service, leadership development, health and fitness, and safety.

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