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Social and Human Service Assistants

At a Glance

  • Work in a variety of places
  • Help people get financial, health, and food assistance
  • Work with clients, medical professionals, and coworkers
  • May work part time or full time
  • Most train on the job

Career summary

Social and human service assistants help clients get social services.

#No alternate titles

Social and human service assistants work in a variety of places, including:

Social service assistants in social service agencies interview people to assess their needs and determine if they qualify for financial, health, or food benefits. Sometimes they help people fill out forms to get food stamps, Medicaid, and other benefits. They monitor and keep case records on clients.

Many social service assistants work with the elderly. They deliver meals to homes or provide transportation to medical appointments. Some check in with older people on a regular basis so they can continue living at home. Others work in residential care facilities.

Many social and human service assistants provide job training. They also help parents locate child care so they can work outside the home.

Social and human service assistants in the community work in food banks and energy assistance programs. They may also work in drug and alcohol programs or homeless shelters. Sometimes they work in schools. They may serve as leaders of groups where students can express worries and concerns.

Social and human service assistants may organize or lead discussion groups for pregnant teens, AIDS patients, and others in need of support. They teach:

Social and human service assistants provide emotional support and counseling to people. They work with social workers, psychologists, and providers of medical care. They must maintain accurate records and consult with supervisors when problems come up.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to social and human service assistants.

Common work activities

Social and human service assistants perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, social and human service assistants:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Social and human service assistants frequently:

It is important for social and human service assistants to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for social and human service assistants to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Social and human service assistants need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a social or human service assistant, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Social and human service assistants who specialize in clerical work must have at least a high school diploma. To work directly with clients you need college-level training. Certificates or degrees in social work, psychology, sociology, human services, or gerontology are favored. Community colleges and universities offer degrees in these areas. Look for programs that train you to observe patients and write reports. You should also know how to conduct interviews, manage caseloads, and perform crisis intervention.

Work experience

Experience working with people and handling clerical tasks is good background for this occupation.

On-the-job training

Social and human service assistants receive training after they are hired. This may be in a classroom setting, on the job, or both. You learn to observe clients, record information, conduct client interviews, and make referrals. You also learn to use problem-solving skills, perform crisis intervention, and use proper case management methods. You may receive training for up to one month.

You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers require applicants to have some education beyond high school. Work experience may also be required. Sometimes summer jobs or volunteer positions lead to permanent work. Some employers hire student interns after they complete their degree.

Social and human service assistants who work in group homes may be required to have a valid driver's license. They may also be required to pass a background check.

Employers look for applicants with good communication and time management skills. Employers also look for applicants who are patient, supportive, and encouraging.

Assistants must learn about programs and procedures on the job.

Costs to workers

Workers who join professional associations must pay membership fees and annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.

Social and human service assistants (SOC 21-1093)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $12.86 $15.45 $18.25 $22.84 $27.81
Monthly $2,229 $2,677 $3,163 $3,958 $4,819
Yearly $26,740 $32,130 $37,960 $47,500 $57,840
    Bellingham Hourly $13.89 $15.85 $18.28 $25.01 $28.80
Monthly $2,407 $2,747 $3,168 $4,334 $4,991
Yearly $28,884 $32,965 $38,037 $52,022 $59,920
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $13.63 $18.20 $22.43 $26.61 $30.11
Monthly $2,362 $3,154 $3,887 $4,612 $5,218
Yearly $28,367 $37,855 $46,670 $55,339 $62,614
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $12.88 $14.88 $17.57 $19.93 $23.10
Monthly $2,232 $2,579 $3,045 $3,454 $4,003
Yearly $26,798 $30,970 $36,539 $41,458 $48,037
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $13.65 $15.78 $18.05 $21.11 $24.62
Monthly $2,366 $2,735 $3,128 $3,658 $4,267
Yearly $28,400 $32,815 $37,548 $43,916 $51,205
    Longview Hourly $12.10 $13.02 $15.01 $18.51 $22.93
Monthly $2,097 $2,256 $2,601 $3,208 $3,974
Yearly $25,152 $27,078 $31,221 $38,484 $47,690
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $11.88 $12.48 $16.16 $18.95 $23.18
Monthly $2,059 $2,163 $2,801 $3,284 $4,017
Yearly $24,719 $25,969 $33,605 $39,433 $48,204
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $13.56 $15.34 $17.35 $19.44 $23.27
Monthly $2,350 $2,658 $3,007 $3,369 $4,033
Yearly $28,213 $31,908 $36,079 $40,438 $48,402
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $14.35 $16.71 $19.47 $24.56 $29.50
Monthly $2,487 $2,896 $3,374 $4,256 $5,112
Yearly $29,828 $34,749 $40,498 $51,085 $61,361
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $12.23 $13.86 $16.67 $20.02 $24.33
Monthly $2,119 $2,402 $2,889 $3,469 $4,216
Yearly $25,434 $28,816 $34,668 $41,654 $50,607
    Vancouver Hourly $13.33 $15.15 $18.38 $22.16 $25.11
Monthly $2,310 $2,625 $3,185 $3,840 $4,352
Yearly $27,721 $31,520 $38,232 $46,096 $52,222
    Walla Walla Hourly $15.79 $17.59 $20.51 $22.99 $24.48
Monthly $2,736 $3,048 $3,554 $3,984 $4,242
Yearly $32,838 $36,581 $42,664 $47,824 $50,921
    Wenatchee Hourly $12.09 $13.25 $16.41 $19.01 $24.94
Monthly $2,095 $2,296 $2,844 $3,294 $4,322
Yearly $25,133 $27,556 $34,126 $39,522 $51,858
    Yakima Hourly $12.25 $13.23 $15.36 $18.77 $22.77
Monthly $2,123 $2,293 $2,662 $3,253 $3,946
Yearly $25,476 $27,518 $31,955 $39,035 $47,368
United States Hourly $10.78 $12.96 $16.22 $20.22 $25.20
Monthly $1,868 $2,246 $2,811 $3,504 $4,367
Yearly $22,430 $26,960 $33,750 $42,050 $52,420

Wages vary by the assistant's level of responsibility and training. Those who have experience generally earn more than those who are new to the occupation. In addition, wages vary by employer and area of the country.

Social and human service assistants who work for state and local government agencies usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and a retirement plan. Many employers give benefits only to full-time employees. Some employers may not offer benefits.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

In Washington, the outlook depends on the health of the economy, public financial support for social services, and the amount of recognition given to the role of paraprofessionals. Opportunities should be best for people who have skills, such as training in geriatrics or fluency in Spanish, that enable them to relate to special groups.

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Social and Human Service Assistants (SOC 21-1093)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 8,072 17.1% 16.1% 1,299
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 183 10.4% 13.4% 26
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 221 17.2% 8.6% 36
    Benton and Franklin Counties 186 18.8% 15.0% 30
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 408 13.0% 11.9% 61
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 366 23.8% 15.2% 65
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 522 15.9% 14.1% 83
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 736 17.8% 14.6% 119
    King County 2,900 16.8% 19.6% 464
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 486 19.8% 13.8% 82
    Pierce County 709 16.9% 15.2% 114
    Snohomish County 704 16.2% 12.4% 112
    Spokane County 735 17.0% 13.9% 118
United States 413,700 12.6% 5.2% 57,500

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be strong. As the population ages there is more need for programs such as food delivery services and residential care homes. Social service assistants will be needed to make sure the elderly get all the services they are eligible for.

Workers will also be needed at community-based and independent-living sites that are being established to assist the homeless and mentally and physically disabled. Treatment programs for substance abuse are also going to need more assistants.

Many job openings will occur as people leave this occupation due to low pay and stressful working conditions. Job prospects will be best for those with related postsecondary education.

Other resources

Alliance for Children and Families (external link)
1825 K St. N.W.
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
American Public Human Services Association (external link)
1101 Wilson Boulevard, 6th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster