Human Services

From mental health counselors to hairdressers, human services workers provide a wide range of assistance to individuals and families. People who choose to work in this cluster usually have a deep desire to enrich and make life easier for others.

What kinds of services do human services customers need? They may benefit from rehabilitation therapy; psychological assistance; help with daily activities such as meal preparation or housekeeping; spiritual guidance; or health education. Their needs have an impact on where workers provide services. Psychologists and social and community service managers are likely to work in office settings. Others like clergy and social workers may work part of the time in an office and may also visit people at home.

Since the services provided in this industry vary greatly, workers in this cluster have educational backgrounds that range from high school diplomas to doctorates. They may also need credentials such as certifications and licenses. Social assistance organizations and local and state government tend to offer more human services jobs than do other work settings.

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Core Skills

The following Core Skills are necessary for success in these occupations.

  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people
  • Persuasion - Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior
  • Negotiation - Bringing people together to solve differences
  • Learning Strategies - Using the best training or teaching strategies for learning new things
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
  • Speaking - Talking to others
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Selecting and managing the best workers for a job
  • Instructing - Teaching people how to do something

Career Pathways

Career Story

Nadja Gustafson

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

A.A.S., Health and Fitness Science

Enrollment in the program inspired a newly discovered love of science, anatomy, and physiology.

Passionate about exercise, Nadja Gustafson has always pursued a high level of fitness for herself. She spent much of her adult life as an artist and craftsperson working as a metalsmith, glassblower, and musical instrument repair technician. Her change of career began when the Associate Dean of the Arts and Science department at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College spotted her working out at the YMCA, and told her about the program in Health and Fitness Science at AB Tech.

She knew immediately that this was something she wanted, so she began the process of enrolling in an associate degree program in Health and Fitness Science at A-B Tech. Two years later she walked across the stage to get her degree, having passed the ACE Personal Trainer Certification exam earlier that spring.

The Health and Fitness Program at A-B Tech inspired a newly discovered love of science, specifically anatomy and physiology. Gustafson’s college internship with Asheville City Parks and Recreation turned into a lasting relationship in terms of employment and friendship with the staff and members. Her experience working at Stephens-Lee and Shiloh recreation centers led her toward her interest in working at the Women’s Correctional Facility through Light a Path.

Gustafson currently works at the YMCA of Western North Carolina as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and a Health and Wellness Coach. In her various roles at the YMCA, Gustafson works with members on setting up programs and workouts, proper use of the equipment, as well as specific exercises for that member’s needs.

She also works for Asheville City Parks and Recreation as a contractual personal trainer assisting city employees and fitness center members with use of equipment and circuit training.

Gustafson loves her new job and career. Her favorite thing is working with all different kinds of people at varying levels of fitness and being a positive part of assisting people in improving their health and wellness. Having the opportunity to wear different hats within that scope keeps her on her toes, and she loves remaining curious and constantly learning.

Gustafson’s advice to anyone interested in becoming a personal training and group exercise instructor is to stay interested in and open about all aspects of the career. Hone your listening skills so that you truly hear what your client says. Be open to feedback from your clients as well as other trainers who have been in the field. Continue to study anatomy and physiology so you can understand how the body works.

Go to Career Cluster Matrix to find occupations by cluster and interest type.