Career Opportunities in Human Service Administration

By Cheryl Bradt-Hyland MS LCAT HS-BCP, Assistant Academic Chair, Human Services Programs

Like many of you who are entering and/or working in the human service field, I chose this field because I wanted to make a difference. Most of us drawn to this career path typically have a strong passion and desire to engage in meaningful work and to help others.  Having worked as a therapist with many different populations, I found that I wanted to have more of an impact on how organizations and programs were developed and run and more importantly, how services to clients were delivered. Moving into administrative positions enabled me to continue to be an advocate on a leadership level for those who are often not heard.

There are a number of human service administrative career possibilities, including public administrator, program director, executive director, grant writer, development director, and residential or human services manager. These are all typically leadership and management-level positions.

Here is a brief overview of what these positions entail:

  • Public administrators typically manage and implement government services within the community.
  • Program directors evaluate the needs of the population the organization serves and oversee the daily operations. This position often also includes supervision of staff, as well as ensuring that the criteria required of the governing bodies are met.  
  • Executive directors engage in strategic planning to provide leadership to the organization, monitor operations, and collaborate with state and community stakeholders and board members.
  • Grant writers are responsible for ensuring the organization has the necessary funding sources that promote viability and growth. This may include determining what grants are available, writing grants, and oversight on how the funding is disbursed within the organization.
  • Development directors are primarily responsible for marketing and oversight of fundraising.
  • Residential and human service managers oversee the daily operations of residential group homes, supported apartments, supported vocational programs, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters. They work directly with staff and clients.

All of these positions ensure that the organization is providing the best possible services to clients.

Some additional encouraging news is that there is an increasing need for experience human and social services professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports “Employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increases in the elderly population, and increases in demand for substance abuse treatment and mental health and health-related services.”*

Working as a human service administrator can offer a multitude of personal and professional rewards. It is truly a gift to work alongside others who share the same mission, passion, and commitment.

Cheryl Bradt-Hyland is a faculty member at Purdue Global. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.

 * Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-2015 Edition, Social and Community Service Managers, National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.