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Saint Leo Blog

Human Services Jobs Surge with Nonprofit Industry Growth

Did you know that human services jobs in the nonprofit industry are on the rise? Learn why this field has such a bright future and how a human services degree from Saint Leo University can benefit you.

A businesswoman who has a human services job in the nonprofit industry helping a client in her office

For numerous reasons, there has been a significant increase in the number of job opportunities within the nonprofit industry in the United States over the past decade. This has led to the creation of many human services jobs as a large percentage of nonprofits fall into the human services category.

This is why earning a bachelor’s in human services or master’s in human services administration from Saint Leo University can open the door to a good amount of potential opportunity for graduates with these human services degrees.

Let’s dive a little deeper into this growing field, its current state during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why the future looks so bright.

Growth Statistics on Human Services Jobs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social and community service managers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2019 to 2029. This growth is expected to be much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. Specific to the human services field, employment of community and social service specialists is expected to increase by 14 percent in that same period.

Professionals who work in this space coordinate and oversee programs and organizations whose goals are to support the well-being of communities. Social and community service managers are often found working in for-profit and nonprofit industry settings, as well as government agencies.

The Importance of the Nonprofit Industry

According to a recent report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, data findings indicated that U.S. nonprofits had maintained their position as the third largest employer in the U.S. economy. In fact, nonprofits surged past manufacturing by close to 100,000 workers nationally in 2017, surpassing manufacturing in 28 states and territories. That year, the only two industries with more employees were retail trade and the restaurant and hotel sectors.

From 2007 through 2017, the number of U.S. nonprofit industry jobs increased by 18.6 percent, representing a growth that was three times faster than for-profit companies during the same time period. Plus, nonprofits generated the third-largest amount of payroll income across all U.S. industries in 2017, with only the manufacturing and professional services fields ahead of this amount. On a related note, the average weekly wages per employee in nonprofit organizations were found to be nearly the same as for-profit wages. In certain nonprofit fields, these wages are substantially higher as well.

This data underscores the vital role that the nonprofit sector plays in the social and economic well-being of the nation.

Reasons for More Human Services Jobs in the Nonprofit Industry

There are many reasons for the growth of human services jobs in the United States in the coming years. The U.S. population will continue to grow older over the next several years, meaning there will be a larger percentage of elderly individuals. This will result in the need for more meal delivery services, adult daycare options, and a host of other social services for the elderly. Since professionals who work in the social and human services realm are often involved in facilitating these services, organizations will need to offer more of these positions to meet this greater demand.

Additionally, an increased opportunity in this field is projected as more individuals will be in search of treatment for their drug addictions as some states have moved to recommend this process to drug offenders rather than criminally charging them. This means addiction treatment programs and mental health support programs are expected to see a growing demand for human services professionals.

Finally, with millions of Americans being affected by the pandemic in various ways, there will likely be a need for the creation of new human services organizations or expansion of current entities as the effects of societal changes linger.

The Pandemic’s Effect on Nonprofits

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly taken a toll on many parts of the world economy, including the nonprofit industry. Fortunately, a study conducted in the fall of 2020 indicated that its effects may not have been quite as extreme on certain nonprofit organizations around the Tampa Bay area.

In March of 2020, the Nonprofit Leadership Center began surveying nonprofit CEOs and executive directors to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofits across the Tampa Bay area. Six months after the outbreak, the NLC organization collected further data on the effect of the pandemic over that timeframe.

While operating and fundraising have been challenging in recent months, the outlook for many nonprofit leaders is still positive. The majority of respondents said they were currently open and operating. More than half indicated that they would either be able to keep their current staff in place or would need additional services from various partners and agencies six months from the time of the survey. Additionally, 61.54 percent said they would need to add additional programs or services to meet existing or new needs.

It’s important to note that nearly half of the survey respondents represented human services-focused nonprofit organizations.

Conclusions from Saint Leo University Human Services Faculty

According to Dr. Nancy Wood, the director of the graduate human services administration program at Saint Leo University, the time has never been better to pursue a career in this field.

"If you enjoy a sense of community and have a passion for helping others, now is the time to consider a career in the human services sector,” Wood explains. “Human services administration is a unique environment in which you can share your leadership skills and talents while helping your community.”

Dr. Amina Abdullah, the chair of Saint Leo University’s Bachelor of Arts in Human Services degree program, knows that the curriculum can transform the careers of program graduates.

“The helping skills and practical experience that you gain in the human services program will help you to become job ready for the expanding field of Human Services,” Abdullah says.

“In addition to your academic learning, our program features student activities that provide opportunities for professional growth and development. We call them Resume Builders as you can list most of them on your resume to make it more human services-oriented.”

LEARN MORE: Be sure to visit the program pages for the BA in Human Services program and the MS in Human Services Administration program. Also, check out the LinkedIn page for the undergraduate human services program.

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