Social Services Manager Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a social services manager career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if this career could be right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Social Services Manager

Being a social services manager involves managing employees and overseeing the distribution and handling of social services. Check out these pros and cons to understand if you might be suited to become a social services manager.

Pros of Being a Social Services Manager
Ability to serve a community and people in need*
Demand for social services managers likely to grow (21% between 2012-2022)*
Flexibility in job opportunities (nonprofit, government institution, private company)*
Ability to gain leadership skills and further career growth*

Cons of Being a Social Services Manager
Demanding schedule and often long hours*
Need to have a deep understanding of social service policy and budgeting*
Extensive education needed (at least four years of undergraduate, plus another two years of master's degree studies for career growth)*
Constant requirement to meet the needs of others and oversee staff*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Info

Job Description

Social services managers are responsible for overseeing and managing the handling and distribution of social services, which can cover health care needs, child welfare, homeless benefits, senior citizens and other services for families and individuals who need assistance. Since this career includes management, you'll need to have a bird's eye view of your organization, which includes coordinating budgets, employees and volunteers. You'll need to take part in considerable collaboration with your own staff, other service employees such as counselors and social workers, and the general public. If you are working for a community organization such as a nonprofit, part of your duties may include carrying out the goals and vision of a board of directors.

A career as a social services manager means you should have extensive knowledge of social policy and how to coordinate treatment and delivery to populations in need. You may also need to hold some skills in counseling, psychology and therapy so that you can understand the needs of your community and how to reach them. Social services managers can work in many different types of settings, whether it's a private counseling company, a nonprofit organization or a government institution.

Salary and Job Growth

Based on figures provided by the BLS, social services managers earned a mean annual salary of $67,730 as of May 2014, or an average hourly wage of $32.56. The job outlook for social services managers, and social workers in general, looks good as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment should grow at a faster-than-average rate (21%) in the 2012-2022 decade. There were an estimated 116,670 social services managers employed nationwide as of May 2014.

The BLS predicts that the number of social workers should grow because there will be a greater demand for social services, especially as the baby boomer population gradually grows older, nears retirement and needs healthcare services. However, there may be some challenges in finding work because budget cuts may restrict the number of social workers and social services managers hired by an organization.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

For the most part, you'll need to earn a bachelor's degree to find work as a social services manager. This requires four years of schooling at a college or university with a major that can include psychology, social work, sociology or counseling. Because this career path involves management, there are many employers who prefer candidates to hold a master's degree. Throughout your studies, you'll analyze social policy, how to serve populations in need, and ways to develop strategies and services.

Depending on where you want to work, it's also common for social services managers to be licensed or certified to provide social work services to clients. According to the BLS, all states have licensing requirements for social workers. Typically, to become licensed, individuals must have 3,000 hours of experience in the field as well as a master's degree. In addition, candidates must pass a licensing exam. Nonclinical social workers do not have to hold a license to practice.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Whether it's working at a counseling organization or a government institution, there are many openings for social services managers across the country. The majority of jobs require at least a bachelor's degree with a preference for a master's degree that relates to social work. For specialized positions, you may need to hold professional experience and possibly a license to practice as a social worker or therapist. The following is a sample of job opportunities posted on CareerBuilder.com in March 2012:

  • An organization in Colorado sought a director of social services to oversee and manage social services to elderly patients living in a residential care facility. The position required regular interaction with patients and their families as well as representing the organization in the community as a way to build relations and partnerships. While a bachelor's degree was the basic requirement for the position, the employer preferred candidates to hold a master's degree in social work.
  • A private rehabilitation center in Massachusetts was looking for a social services director who could provide social services to clients who needed long-term care at a rehabilitation center. The employer required at least a bachelor's degree in social work, experience, and a license or certification as well as a strong understanding of state and federal guidelines for social policy.
  • A long-term care facility in Colorado sought a social services manager who could oversee health care services to its long-term care patients. Applicants would need to be able to interact with patients and their families and hold at least a bachelor's degree.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

It's common for social services managers to go back to school to further their social work education and skills. One option is to earn a master's degree in social work because you'll be able to learn about the latest research and policy that relates to social services. There are also organizations such as the National Network for Social Work Managers, which regularly host workshops and classes for people in the social work industry. Along with networking opportunities, you'll be able to acquire leadership and social work skills.

Alternative Career Paths

Social Worker

If you aren't ready for a career in management, but still want to provide social services, you may want to consider becoming a social worker. In this role, you'll be able to coordinate services and counseling for people in need, whether they are children, senior citizens, adults or families. The demand for social workers is expected to increase in the coming years because of a growing demand for social services as the nation's population increases. Social workers who worked in schools or with families earned an average annual salary of $44,000 in May 2011, while social workers in medical and public health fields earned $50,500 in May 2011, according to the BLS.

Counselor

Another option is to become a counselor, which means you'll be able to provide therapy and support to people facing emotional and personal struggles. Counselors can work in a variety of settings, including a school, nonprofit organization, private practice or community counseling facility. As with social workers, the BLS expects that demand for counselors should grow by 19% between 2010 and 2020. School-based counselors earned an average annual salary of $57,000 in May 2011 while mental health counselors earned $43,000 that year, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Human Services
      • MS in Human Services - Family and Community Services
      • MS in Human Services - Organizational and Social Services
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Human Services/Child and Family Welfare
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Adult Gerontology Practitioner Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Human Services
      • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
      • B.S. in Human Services / Human Services Management
      • B.S. in Child Studies
      • B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Sacred Heart University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Social Work - Clinical Specialization
      • Master of Social Work - Community Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD in Psychology - Gerontology
    Master's
      • MS - Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychology (MSPSYCAD)
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Liberal Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • General Studies, A.A.
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Liberal Studies
    Associate's
      • AA: Liberal Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Human Services - Human Services Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Addictions Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Biblical Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Christian Counseling
      • M.A. in Human Services - Conflict & Mediation Ministry
      • M.A. in Human Services - Criminal Justice & Ministry
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - HR Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • MS in Human Services
  • Bachelor: Human Services/Child and Family Welfare
  • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services

Which subject are you interested in?

Post University

  • B.S. in Human Services
  • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
  • B.S. in Human Services / Human Services Management

Education Level:

Sacred Heart University

  • Master of Social Work - Clinical Specialization
  • Master of Social Work - Community Specialization

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Psychology - Gerontology
  • MS - Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychology (MSPSYCAD)

What is your highest level of education?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Christian University

  • General Studies, A.A.

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

  • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Liberal Studies
  • AA: Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education completed?