What Does a Social Services Assistant Do?
Social services assistants change lives every day.
They work with licensed professionals to help clients from many walks of life find the services they need.
They go by many titles, including human services assistant, addiction counselor assistant, social worker assistant and social service aide.
Social services assistants help clients solve an array of problems: a lack of food, unemployment, divorce, the need for childcare, meal deliveries, food stamps, help with addiction or substance abuse, a complex adoption process or a serious medical diagnosis.
They work with social workers, psychologists and community service workers.
Social services assistants counsel clients about government aid or community services and connect them with service providers, such as a transportation service or a personal aide. They also follow up to make sure clients are getting the services they need to get their lives back on track.
Some social services assistants work primarily with the elderly, the disabled or people with mental health issues. Others specialize in working with other groups, such as veterans, immigrants or the homeless.
There are many people to help, even for entry-level assistants, and there’s room for advancement. However, that will require additional education.
If you’re a helper by nature and you want to make a difference in your community, keep reading to learn more about training and education requirements for this role.
- Interview clients to understand needs
- Share information about programs and community resources
- Work with more experienced social and human services workers to find solutions
- Screen clients for program eligibility
- Provide administrative support, such as filling out service paperwork for clients
- Schedule interviews between clients and service providers
- Follow up with clients
- Keep records of conversations
How To Become a Social Worker Assistant: FAQs
What steps do I take to get this job?
First, you’ll need to get your high school diploma or equivalent. After that, requirements for this job vary by employer.
If you’re an entry-level social services assistant with no training, many employers will provide on-the-job training in case management, which means working with clients from a variety of backgrounds.
A more common way to gain entry to this profession is to get more education and training before you look for a job. Your best bet? Earn an associate degree or certificate. Common fields of study include human services, social work, behavioral science and gerontology.
Programs will cover practical coursework and training in case management. You’ll learn how to interview clients, how to set up treatment plans and how to handle difficult situations, such as dealing with a client who is undergoing a crisis. Much of your training will be learned on the job, working with real clients under supervision.
If an internship is available, take it, as all hands-on experience in this role will be helpful.
If you want to move up, some positions will require more years of work experience or a bachelor’s degree. Some higher-level jobs may require a master’s degree. Many social services assistants go back to school to become licensed social workers.
Specialization is common in this line of work, and it will open up more job opportunities.
Are there any other qualifications?
You’ll need a valid driver’s license to visit clients, and you must pass a criminal background check.
How long does it take to become a social and human service assistant?
A certificate program typically takes a year, and an associate degree takes two years. This relatively short training window is one of the reasons this role is one of the top jobs for community college and trade school students. Continuing education is ongoing.
Where do social service assistants work?
Their skills are needed in many settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, clinics and community service centers. They typically work for family services organizations, nonprofits and local or state governments.
Work hours may vary, depending on the employer.
Is there a demand for social work assistants?
Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12% growth for this job, which is much faster than the growth of other jobs. That works out to 55,900 openings per year from 2021 to 2031.
The reason? There will be more older adults who need their specialized help.
The need is already visible in cities like Phoenix, where social services assistants are in demand, along with other public service professionals.
What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?
Most successful social work assistants share certain traits, including:
- Excellent communication skills
- Compassion and empathy
- Good time-management skills
- Good problem-solving skills
- Strong organizational skills