If you want to start a career that assists children, families, and communities in meaningful ways, consider a human services certificate. Jobs in human services focus on helping people address and overcome challenges, including as caseworkers, family support coordinators, home health aides, childcare workers, or program specialists.

Over the next 10 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 41% growth rate for home health and personal care aides, which makes health services one of the fastest-growing careers in the nation. Equipped with a certificate in human services, you'll have the skills and training necessary to move into management and leadership positions. A certificate is a great way to get enter into health and human services.

How to Choose the Right Certificate in Human Services Program

Finding the right human services certificate can seem like a challenge, but if you make a list of key factors, you can examine each program independently and ensure it meets all your needs. To start, consider the length of each program. The typical certificate in human services program involves six to nine months of classes, or 18 to 24 credits. Think about whether you want to enroll in an on-campus or online human services program. Taking classes online is a great option for working professionals, while recent high school graduates or those who prefer a traditional classroom setting may prefer on-campus programs.

You can usually find the program's curriculum on the college's website. If you have a particular career field you would like to enter, make sure the program's courses will help prepare you for the job. In addition to tuition, look into any other fees. Many schools have fees for student activities and healthcare services, which may be resources you do not need. If you decide to attend on-campus classes, check the cost of living and employment opportunities around the school.

Employment and Salary Outlook for Certificate in Human Services Graduates

The BLS projects exceptional growth for home health and personal care aides, along with steady growth for social and human service assistants, childcare workers, and mental health technicians. The pay you receive depends on factors, such as a human services certificate, level of experience, and training received. Below you'll find salary and job growth rate information for the top five occupations in this field.

Median Salary For Human Services Certificate-Holders by Experience
Position Median Annual Salary Job Growth Rate (2016-2026)
Social and Human Service Assistants $33,120 16%
Childcare Workers $22,290 7%
Home Health Aides $23,130 41%
Personal Care Aides $23,130 41%
Mental Health/Psychiatric Technicians and Aides $29,330 6%

Career Opportunities

A human services certificate focuses on helping people who have chronic illnesses, disabilities, and other serious health conditions. Students should be organized, timely, and passionate about serving others. In some positions, you may also need to work outside normal business hours -- such as the evenings and weekends -- to meet the needs of patients. The list below includes the five most common roles for individuals with a certificate in human services.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants work for government agencies, nursing care facilities, or hospitals and clinics. They determine the type of aid individuals should receive, and create treatment plans with caseworkers and medical professionals. They often connect their clients with key programs, such as Medicaid, food assistance, and affordable housing resources.

Childcare Workers

These professionals ensure the safety of children, organize activities, prepare meals, and help develop physical activity and sleep routines. They may also keep records of a children routines, tendencies, and progress. Many childcare workers deliver engaging learning activities.

Home Health Aides

These professionals assist the elderly and people with disabilities and illnesses. They may assist clients with getting dressed, bathing, doing laundry, and housekeeping. Home health aides also transport their clients to doctor's appointments and out-of-home events, go grocery shopping, and prepare meals.

Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides help elderly and disabled individuals with daily tasks, such as preparing meals, monitoring nutrition, and engaging them with family and social circles. They may also help clients become more self-sustaining.

Mental Health/Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Psychiatric technicians work in substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, and mental health facilities. They observe and keep records of patient behavior. They also help with admission and discharge and assist individuals with day-to-day activities, such as eating, bathing, and getting dressed.

Accreditation for Human Services Programs

Consider accreditation when searching for a certificate in human services program. Accreditation ensures the program offers quality instruction and prepares students for the job market. Many employers won't consider applicants with certificates from non-accredited programs. Students will also find it difficult to transfer into more advanced programs without an accredited certificate.

A college may receive regional accreditation through one of six agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. There are also nationally accredited schools, including those approved by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training.

A program may receive individual accreditation from the Council for Standards in Human Service Education. This organization focuses specifically on improving the relevance, quality, and consistency of human services certificate and degree programs nationwide and ensures a top-quality program.

Human Services Certificate Program Admissions

If you wish to apply for an on-campus certificate in human services program, your first step is to fill out an application. You should also prepare your high school transcripts or GED scores, along with transcripts from previously attended colleges. Some programs may ask for a personal statement explaining why you wish to get a human services certificate, along with ACT, SAT, or other college placement exam scores.

Consider applying to several schools at once, which will prevent any delays in furthering your education. Begin by formulating a list of a dozen or so potential programs, and then rank your top three to five. If you get accepted to multiple programs, go back to your ranking list to select the right fit for you.

Admission Materials

  • Application: You can complete applications online. It usually takes about an hour, and you need to provide contact information, a personal statement, and one or more letters of recommendation.
  • Transcripts: To submit official transcripts, contact your high school guidance counselor or college registrar. Some schools may provide transcripts for free, while others charge a small fee. Some schools only require transcripts for degrees; therefore, you may not need to submit them if you are applying for a certificate in human services.
  • Application Fee: The typical application fee is between $20 to $50; however, many certificate programs do not require this fee. Individuals with financial need can usually receive a fee waiver.

What Else Can I Expect From a Certificate in Human Services Program?

Core Courses in an Human Services Certificate Program

Although certificates in human services programs have different curriculum, you will find that many have similar courses and experience requirements. The list below features three common courses found in certificate programs.

Introduction to Social Work

This course offers an overview of social work, including the institutions, values, laws, standards, and best practices. Students learn to work with people from diverse backgrounds and assist individuals and families facing challenges, such as substance abuse, family violence, and food insecurity.

Introduction to Social Policy

Students examine how local, state, and federal laws and policies affect individuals, families, and communities. This course covers how social services are delivered and how those services can increase equity and social justice.

Health and Human Services Organizations

This course covers how health and human services agencies work and serve the public. Students gain an understanding of various issues, including corrections, substance abuse, mental health, child welfare, and aging. Additional concepts include ethics, social welfare policy, and system organization.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Human Services?

A human services program can take between nine and 12 months to complete. Most programs involve 18 to 24 credits. Internship or practicum experience can lengthen the time to completion. Some programs have students earn credit by working with a human services professional, which allows students to learn from someone with considerable experience.

Conversely, you may move through a program quickly if you can take online classes. Some schools allow you to take multiple classes at once, which can expedite your program.

How Much Is a Certificate in Human Services?

College tuition can vary significantly. You can expect to pay between $140 and $400 per credit, which totals $2,500 to $9,600. Considering this wide range, research tuition before applying to a program. Additionally, you may receive lower tuition rates by attending an in-state school.

Aside from tuition, additional costs can include healthcare services, activities, technology, textbooks, and other materials your program may require. Increasingly, certificate in human services programs are providing course materials online, eliminating the need for expensive textbooks. Of course, students will still need technology to access these resources.

Finally, think about expenses outside of school, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare. Make sure you will have enough money to cover these necessities.

Professional Organizations in Human Services

Professional associations offer programs and services that benefit students and professionals. Members can participate in networking events, professional development opportunities, webinars, and conferences. Organizations may also help you advance your career through job boards. The list below includes the top human services professional associations in the U.S.