This week we dive into the field of Human Services with our CSU Global Professor Dr. Sheila Schmitz. Read on for an inside view of the profession, and how this can be a great career choice. 
woman working with older woman
In honor of National Social Workers Month, I sat down with Dr. Sheila Schmitz, the Program Coordinator for CSU Global's B.S. in Human Services program. Dr. Schmitz has over 30 years of experience in the field of Human Services, and was happy for the opportunity to share her insight. Human services professionals dedicate their lives to serving others, helping those in need to live emotionally and physically healthy lives.  If this is a field that appeals to you, read on to learn some valuable information about skills, demand, and the jobs available.

Can you give us an overview of Human Services?

Dr. Schmitz: The field of Human Services focuses on meeting human needs and improving lives through a variety of jobs and services. Work focuses on the prevention and intervention of problems many people face in their everyday lives. Specific services and needs vary from community to community, but human services professionals serve many groups, including those with mental disabilities, veterans, immigrants, and the elderly.  They also help those who are seeking treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, or who have been involved with family or community violence.

What kinds of tasks do professionals perform in the field?

Dr. Schmitz: Human services professionals offer assistance to clients in a variety of settings such as community mental health centers, children and family service agencies, group homes, halfway houses, and residential treatment facilities. Regardless of their specific jobs, they will assess the needs of clients. They will also assist clients in finding, monitoring and coordinating services, and perhaps provide direct counseling.

What type of person should pursue a job in Human Services?

Dr. Schmitz: Hiring professionals seek candidates with a strong passion and desire to help others.  Candidates who demonstrate the ability to be patient, understanding, and caring in their interactions with others are highly valued by employers.

What skills are needed to be successful?

Dr. Schmitz: Important personal traits include strong communication skills and the ability to manage time effectively.  Professionals should also be very organized: in addition to face-to-face interaction with colleagues and clients, Human services workers process a lot of paperwork and complete a variety of administrative tasks.  A human services professional must also be capable of managing a high degree of stress.  A sensitivity to the issues clients face is essential, as is the ability to manage emotions associated with these issues.

How is the Human Services field changing?

Dr. Schmitz: In the past 20 years there has been a shift in emphasis.  Previously we provided treatment and intervention to individuals and families, whereas now we focus on prevention and early intervention at an individual, family, and community level. Of course, treatment is still extremely important, but we work to put education and resources in place to prevent negative situations from occurring in the first place. Changes like this, and an increase in the elderly population, mean that the need for human services professionals is growing. There is also a particular need for counselors who specialize in drug and alcohol abuse, and child and family services.

What is a typical day like in the life of a human services professional?

Dr. Schmitz: While there is not a typical day in the life of a human services professional, there are some common tasks that are performed on a regular basis.  Human services professionals determine what type of help their clients need, work with clients and other professionals to develop treatment plans, coordinate services, and assist clients in finding resources in their communities. They also determine clients’ eligibility for public assistance, and provide case management services to ensure that clients are receiving the support they need.

Why would you encourage someone to enter the field of Human Services?

Dr. Schmitz: While a career in Human Services can be stressful, it is also incredibly rewarding. Contributing to the well-being of families, veterans, and  individuals in need is something that contributes to healthier and happier communities overall!  Human Services is often associated with social work. If you are interested in the differences between Human Services and social work, click here to learn more.   If  you have any additional questions you would like us to answer in the future, please don't hesitate to news [at] (get in touch). About Dr. Sheila Schmitz Dr. Schmitz earned her B.A. in Psychology from George Williams College, a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Business from Northcentral University. Her research focused on Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Practices in Nonprofit Executives. She began her career teaching life skills to developmentally delayed adults in a community living facility. After several years she left this organization and spent seven years as a houseparent and supervisor of a group home for teen aged girls, where she eventually became Vice President of Programs, overseeing child welfare programs. After 13 years of service she was recruited to serve as the CEO for a multi-service organization in a suburb of Chicago, where she worked for 15 years. She currently spends her time teaching, writing curriculum, and consulting with nonprofit organizations.