There’s a number of characteristics unique to nonprofit work:
- Due to their narrow focus, many nonprofits are able to tailor programs to meet the specific needs of a particular community.
- Nonprofits tend to be more smaller, making them more responsive to the needs of their workers and clients, and more capable of adjusting quickly to emerging circumstances.
- Nonprofits often foster deeper connections with the community members they help due to ongoing and lengthy contact.
- Working for non profit recruiters is a great way to break into the field and boost your resume.
- Nonprofits often yield the deepest sense of satisfaction among human services workers as their relationships with clients are often deeper.
Nonprofit corporations offer a solution to fill in many of the niches in between state and private sector human services providers. When government agencies find it politically impossible to set up needle exchange programs, for example, nonprofits backed by the North American Syringe Exchange Network step to handle it instead, helping to reduce epidemic levels of disease being spread by shared needles.There’s also room for entrepreneurial spirit in nonprofits; something that appeals to many social workers. Your limits are the funds you can help raise and the missions you want to take on. Everything else is details. That sense of the possible is powerful stuff for someone looking to change the world.From health clinics to homeless shelters to youth sports to disaster response, nonprofit human services organizations are hungry for staff. This sometimes means that nonprofits aren’t as picky about formal credentials. A bachelor’s degree or higher is always appreciated, but it’s often possible to get your foot in the door with a good heart and the willingness to roll up your sleeves and pitch in. This can provide just the kind of experience you need to get inspired to take the next step to a more long-term position in human services.If you are looking to make a profound and lasting impact on the lives of those in need and have a specific cause you want to aid, the nonprofit sector may be ideal.
Private Sector Employment in Human Services
Not many people think of the private sector when they think of human services positions, but there are certain areas of practice where for-profit companies or individual providers dominate. These include:
- Sports psychology
- Couples counseling
- Clinical psychology
- Healthcare social workers
Working for privately owned companies that provide support services for government organizations dedicated to public health and social welfare can even open the door to aspects of human services you didn’t even know existed in areas like:
- Human Resources
- Public Relations
You’ll even find human services positions related to counseling and other services within human resources departments at large companies, as well as specialized sociological research positions that range from field work to back room data crunching. There are private sector companies that specialize in substance abuse and behavioral disorder treatments, and some that provide child care services. If it’s possible to charge enough of a premium to turn a profit at it, the private sector will offer a human services solution.
Private Sector Work Values Your Creative Input and Comes with Great Pay
Depending on the career path, work in the private sector can offer the potential for the greatest level of flexibility and input. Just as you would expect in any private corporation, your ability to think outside the box and develop creative solutions is something that is highly valued.Working independently offers even more opportunity for this kind of freedom. If you set up a private counseling practice, for example, you would have total freedom to shape your own practice as you see fit.This certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t positions that demand more structure and purely analytical skills. Someone has to gather and analyze all the sociological data that goes into determining where and how government resources are allocated, and government agencies rarely handle this kind of work in-house. Instead, they prefer to contract it out to private companies.Beyond the diversity of job opportunities, other benefits of working on the private side of the human services field include less red tape and more merit-based promotion opportunities. There is no shortage of compelling reasons to join the human services workforce with a company that provides contract services.Private sector employers tend to be more qualification-focused than nonprofits, so you can expect to need a bachelor’s degree at minimum for most of these jobs. If you are aiming to get started in private counseling services, you are looking at a master’s degree in social work or a doctorate in psychology to conform both to state licensing requirements and client expectations. In the field of sociological research, a master's degree in sociology with an emphasis on research and statistics is highly desirable; sometimes a bachelor's degree in the same area with experience can be substituted for a master's.