What can I do with a degree in Human Services?

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Human Service agencies provide support services across a number of areas, such as education, health, housing, justice, police, mediation and welfare. Such services are people-oriented and have a developmental, preventative, remedial or rehabilitative function.

Internationally, Human Services is a growing discipline and career pathway. Statutory and notfor-profit agencies require highly qualified staff to attend to the complex needs of a diversity of clients. Human Services is also referred to as the study of the professions.

At UC, courses include a focus on professional issues such as workplace bullying, management and supervision, and the dynamics of the worker-client relationship. This programme provides students with the opportunity to choose courses in particular areas of study, maximising their scope to develop more focused career directions within their degree.

Through their Human Services degree, graduates develop a set of transferable skills that includes:

  • Advanced oral and written communication skills
  • Thinking critically and creatively, and challenging ideas
  • Practical application of social theory
  • Interpretive and analytical thinking
  • Understanding the influences on contemporary society
  • Problem solving skills
  • An awareness and appreciation of diversity
  • Synthesising and presenting information
  • Research and computing.

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available, for example undertaking an internship can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Human Services courses are designed for students wanting to pursue careers within fields such as:

  • Education
  • Law enforcement
  • Health
  • Community development
  • Advocacy
  • Social services
  • Policy and governance
  • Third sector work (non-governmental and not-for-profit)
  • International organisations.

Public sector employers could be:

  • District Health Boards
  • Department of Corrections
  • Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki
  • Community Probation Service
  • Whānau Ora
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • City councils
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Police
  • Ministry of Education.

The pathways within UC’s Human Services progamme can influence career destinations and specialisation. They are: Health and family systems; Work and organisational systems; Youth development; Local and global community development; Violence and criminal justice systems.

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Youth worker

  • Keeps young people informed and supported
  • Nurtures relationships with youth and their networks
  • Supports adolescent parents
  • Plans activities and connects to resources

Community development worker

  • Recognises problems and concerns within communities eg, mental health, youth facilities
  • Raises awareness of local issues and works with groups
  • Develops programmes and seeks funding to address community issues

Social researcher

  • Designs and develops research projects eg, around social issues such as housing or poverty
  • Uses a range of methods to gain insight and analyse findings
  • Writes and disseminates reports

Probation officer

  • Manages and supervises offenders
  • Makes offender risk assessments to identify the chance of recidivism and suitability for parole
  • Monitors access to services and programmes

Policy analyst / advisor

  • Identifies and investigates issues and opportunities eg, in society, law or governance
  • Interprets and consults on existing policies
  • Prepares reports and recommends changes

Community corrections officer

  • Provides pre-sentencing assessments and assesses parole suitability
  • Monitors those on parole or under supervision
  • Provides access to services and programmes

Regional coordinator

  • Administers groups or services in a region
  • Runs events and develops member’s confidence
  • Builds connections with people and agencies

International aid worker

  • Manages and assesses projects
  • Supports long-term development
  • Evaluates responses to emergency situations

Disabilities officer

  • Provides support services to people with intellectual and physical disabilities
  • Enhances their quality of life
  • Organises leisure activities, trips and socialising
  • Assists with day-to-day jobs and routines

Immigration officer

  • Examines documentation, such as passports
  • Approves or rejects entry into a country
  • Arranges removal of immigration lawbreakers

Police officer

  • Attends crimes, disturbances or accidents
  • Responds to emergencies and keeps the peace
  • Gathers and documents evidence
  • Educates the public on security issues

Research analyst / advisor, market researcher

  • Organises and conducts research
  • Develops and tests theories, interprets results
  • Writes reports, makes recommendations and publishes research

Human resources advisor

  • Advertises vacancies and recruits staff
  • Advises on workplace policies and procedures
  • May oversee staff development, health and safety, pay and reward etc.

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Human Services subject page