There are many career options available for someone who wants to become a social service assistant. Social services is a broad field with many types of job opportunities, depending in part on the level of responsibility that someone wants to have. In general, social service assistants support other professionals who provide human services in many areas, including psychiatry, nursing, and social work. After completing an academic program, social service assistants usually receive a substantial amount of on-the-job training. Along with relevant professional expertise, some desirable personal qualifications might include compassion and the ability to work with diverse populations.
When training to become a social service assistant, a person might concentrate on a particular field or area of expertise. For instance, some social service jobs focus on providing medical assistance to patients, while others might require knowledge of government aid programs in order to help clients apply for public benefits. Social service assistants often work not only with patients or clients, but also with their families and with other service providers in the community.
The standard educational requirements to become a social service assistant vary by location or occupation, but most assistants have at least some formal training beyond high school. Associate degrees or certificates in programs such as behavioral sciences are common. Bachelor's degree programs are usually more involved, training students in broad areas such as liberal arts or human services. Increasingly, certain professional positions require candidates to have advanced degrees, in counseling or social work, for example.
In addition to academic degrees, successful social service assistants generally have a significant amount of practical experience. Internships are a common requirement in the course of study to become a social service assistant. They usually take place under the supervision of a professional, and typical duties might include both administrative work and hands-on experience with patients or clients. On-the-job training is also common, regardless of the employee's level of responsibility. The working environment could consist of anything ranging from an administrative office to a residential facility.
Some social service assistant jobs require criminal background checks, and it is common to require workers in certain fields to have driver's licenses. To become a social service assistant, you usually must prove to be a responsible and compassionate person. In many cases, you may work with special needs populations or be obligated to handle other sensitive issues regarding your patients or clients.