Can you have a fulfilling career in social services AND a decent paycheck?

by Elizabeth Griffith | May 20, 2019

By Amy Bennett | May 20, 2019

There’s a Chinese proverb that says: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

The older we get, the more I think this proverb rings true for a lot of us. But what if you want a career that enables you to help people AND earn a decent living? That’s a little more difficult to find. 

Many jobs that involve helping people don’t pay as much as corporate jobs, yet they still may involve quite a bit of responsibility and / or stress. Think about EMT workers, firefighters, and military personnel. These people are putting their lives on the line and helping all of us day after day. What about childcare workers and pre-school teachers? These men and women are helping shape the next generation. What about aides in nursing homes? They are caring for our precious aging parents and grandparents. All of these careers definitely help people, but they aren’t known for paying high wages.

Of course, I’m not telling you something new if you’re already working in a social services field. 

If you know that you want to stay in a job where you can help people, but you’re looking for a job that pays more, consider a career as a social and community service manager. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social and community service managers, “coordinate and supervise social service programs and community organizations. They manage workers who provide social services to the public.”

“Social and community service managers work for a variety of social and human service organizations. Some of these organizations focus on working with a particular demographic, such as children, people who are homeless, older adults, or veterans. Others focus on helping people with particular challenges, such as substance abuse, mental health needs, chronic hunger, and long-term unemployment.”

Many who are currently employed in one of these areas and want to advance into a managerial role will, most likely, need a bachelor’s degree. Marian University offers a degree in Health and Human Services that may be exactly what you need—affordable, at your own pace, and totally online! Besides a bachelor’s degree, most social and community service managers already have related work experience and also possess strong soft skills including analytical, communication, managerial, problem-solving, and time-management.

Meeting between two for health servicesSo what does a social and community service manager do? The Occupational Outlook Handbook lists some of the following major job responsibilities:

  • Recruit, hire, train, and supervise employees.
  • Develop new programs and services.
  • Work to meet stakeholder objectives and expectations.
  • Research and write grants and proposals.
  • Manage budgets.
  • Collect and analyze data.
  • Increase community awareness.

The job outlook for social and community managers is fantastic, and employment in this area is expected to grow at a whopping 18 percent. While this increased need is primarily due to an aging population, growth will also likely occur in addiction treatment programs as many believe drug offenders should receive treatment as opposed to immediate incarceration. Job settings vary widely for social and community managers including positions in hospitals, government agencies, community and rehabilitation centers, non-profit offices, clinics, and shelters.

In 2018, Rebecca Koenig, staff writer for U.S. News & World Report, listed social and community services managers as one of, “The 12 Best Jobs That Help People” based on their Best Jobs of 2018 rankings, likely due to the job outlook and a higher than average salary for jobs in this field. According to the BLS, the median pay was $65,320 for social and community service managers. While there were jobs that paid more on the list, it is important to note that those jobs also require advanced degrees such as those obtained by lawyers, pediatricians, and nurse midwives. 

Imagine. You might just be able to have a career in which you can help people, positively impact your community, feel fulfilled, and earn a good living! With a position as a social and community manager, you may just be able to have your cake and eat it too.

For more information on the Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services program, contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@marian.edu or 317.955.6578. Details are also available online at marian.edu/healthandhumanservices.

Studying healthcare in Chile
Pre-med student builds cultural competencies and awareness.
Watch Htoo's story
Interning at Delta Faucet
Marketing experience gives insight into corporate America.
Watch Dominic's story
Coming home to Indy
Award-winning transfer student is glad she made the switch.
Read Rachel's story