The field of human services and social work does not have a reputation for making people rich. The people who go into this area do so because they are passionate about helping others. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to make a living in the field of human services. In fact, many people find they can live quite comfortably on a human services salary. We’ve outlined some of the more popular careers in human services below, complete with detailed salary information.
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Program directors coordinate and supervise community organizations and social service programs. In the human services world, they often lead volunteer workers who help to provide services to underserved sectors of the population.
The most recent data available (May 2010) reported a median annual program director salary of $57,950 for program directors. The median annual wage is the point at which half the workers in a given profession earn more than that amount and half earn less. The top 10 percent of program directors made more than $96,920 and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $34,330.
Compared to other management positions, human services program directors are underpaid. The median annual wage for all management occupations in May 2010 was $91,440. However, human services program directors still earn well above the national median wage for all occupations, which was $22,840 in May 2010.
Wages vary by area for program directors, as well. The table below shows a breakdown of salaries by industry.
Probation officers work with men and women who have been released from correctional facilities. They help these former inmates to reintegrate to society and find programs and resources that aid in finding jobs, housing and other assistance.
As of May 2010, reports showed that the median salary for probation officers was $47,200. The top 10 percent of earners made at or above $80,750; the bottom 10 percent earned less than $30,920.
Compared to other social workers, including counselors, community organizers and social services workers, probation officers earn a decent wage. The bar graph below compares the salaries of probation officers to other social workers and the national average.
Substance abuse counselor
Substance abuse counselors assist clients who suffer from addiction, including alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and other compulsive behaviors. They are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medications.
In May 2010, the median annual wage for these professionals was $38,120. The top 10 percent earners made more than $60,400, while the bottom 10 percent made $24,690 or less. Wages for these workers vary depending on the work setting. The table below shows the differences in pay by industry.
Substance abuse counselors come in between the national average for all occupations and community and social service occupations. The national median salary for all positions is $33,840 and the median salary for all community and social service occupations is $39,280.
Case managers are direct-service social workers who help people cope with problems in their lives and find community resources that will further aid them. They do not diagnose or treat mental illness, but rather help clients cope by taking action to deal with the repercussions of any mental illness, traumatic event or behavioral disturbance.
In May 2010, the median case manager salary was $42,480. The top 10 percent of workers earned more than $70,390. The bottom 10 percent of earners made $26,710 or less. A breakdown of case manager salaries by industry is below.
The median salary for case managers is reported to be nearly $10,000 more than the national median for all occupations.
Child advocates are social workers who work exclusively to protect children and ensure that their rights are not violated. They may work in hospitals, schools, community youth programs or government agencies. They assist children who need additional education resources, live in poverty, suffer from mental or emotional disturbances or are at risk.
As of May 2010, the median child advocate salary was $40,210. The top 10 percent of earners made at or above $70,390. The bottom 10 percent of workers made less than $26,710. However, these figures fluctuate by industry. The following table shows the breakdown.
Grant writers assist nonprofits and individuals in applying for and earning grant funds from the government or private donors. They may work independently as freelancers or as an LLC, directly for an organization or at a writing firm or service.
The median annual wage for grant writers in May 2010 was $52,750. The median salary for all writers and authors was $55,420, and the national median for all occupations is $33,840.