Working in a variety of settings, community and social service specialists plan and coordinate activities for social service and community outreach programs. They may be employed by government agencies, healthcare facilities, adult day care homes or social services providers. Preparing for a career as a community and social service specialist can begin by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in Applied Psychology.
Community and Social Service Specialist Job Outlook
According to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social assistance occupations, including community and social service specialists, are projected to grow by 10% from 2014-24. That’s faster than the 7% average growth rate for all occupations nationwide during the same decade.
A growing job rate does not guarantee employment in the industry. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual employment rates, which vary according to education, experience, local trends and requirements.
Community and Social Service Specialist Job Duties
Typically working under the supervision of professionals such as a program director, director of social services or social worker, community and social services specialists help facilitate the delivery of services and support to individuals and clients.
Specific community and social service specialist job duties will vary according to employer. Responsibilities may range from assisting adults and children with developmental disabilities, to providing physical and psycho-social care to individuals in specialized day care settings. Additional duties may include interviewing clients and gathering information to determine eligibility for social assistance under public social services programs.
Many individual and family services programs depend on community and social service specialists to help children, the elderly or those with mental or physical disabilities become more self-sufficient. In this capacity, these specialists may organize youth activities such as field trips, tutoring, and mentoring, and drug prevention programs. These professionals may also help clients locate safe housing, healthcare providers and specialized assistance needed to live a full and productive life.
Additional jobs duties performed by community and social service specialists may include providing social service program information to clients, explaining programs and eligibility requirements, scheduling and administering health screenings or public workshops, and making referrals for additional services.
Potential Salary for Community and Social Service Specialists
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, community and social service specialists nationwide had an average annual wage of $45,540 as of May 2016. The top 10% of earners had salaries exceeding $71,040 a year.
Earning potential is determined by numerous factors, including employer type and size, regional market conditions, and a candidate’s highest level of educational attainment and work history.
Education and Training for Community and Social Service Specialists
Education and training requirements for community and social service specialists vary based on the setting and specific position. Many employers seek individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree, along with coursework in social or behavioral science. Some may require work experience, which can be obtained through internships while pursuing a degree in applied psychology.
A first step on the path to a community and social service specialist career may be earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Child Advocacy. Coursework typically includes lifespan development and psychology, learning and motivation, introduction to psychology and research methods in applied psychology.
Employers should expect graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Child Advocacy to be able to:
- Apply appropriate skills to advocate on behalf of children
- Recognize which psychological principles and theories apply to the developing child
- Understand the value and complexity of socio-cultural and international diversity
- Utilize best practices when working with children with developmental disabilities.
Some employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It may be possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use a tuition reimbursement or assistance program to pay for a master’s degree while continuing to work full time.
Considering a Career as a Community and Social Service Specialist?
Breaking into the community and social service specialist field takes a combination of knowledge, personal strengths and practical skills. If you have patience, good listening and communication skills, and are a creative problem solver, you have a good foundation for pursuing this field. Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology with a concentration in Child Advocacy program can provide the additional knowledge needed to prepare for a community and social service specialist career.