Career Pathways

Human Service

Industry overview

Are you interested in helping others? Using your special skills and talents for a common good? Solving some of the world’s most complex social issues? Then you’ve landed in the right spot to start exploring careers in the Social and Human Services realms.

While both the Social and Human Services sectors offer a wide range of opportunities for any major, most people have a strong desire to solve problems and make the world a better place; whether that means being a Social Worker for a local community services agency or a Conservation Scientist at an environmental advocacy group. The majority of these jobs are in the nonprofit sector and provide opportunities to perform impactful work for a variety of issues.

The Vault Guides offer a sample of careers in social and human services work. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry level requirements. You’ll notice that some jobs may overlap with a variety of majors or industries. Access The Vault to learn more.

Common career paths

  • Social Worker
  • Human Services Worker
  • Psychiatric Technicians
  • Director of Volunteers
  • Corporate Community Relations Directors
  • Fund-raisers
  • Geriatric Social Workers
  • Health Advocates
  • Lobbyists
  • Music Therapists
  • Grant Coordinators
  • Nonprofit Social Service Directors
  • Psychiatric Nurses
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Social Media Workers
  • Environmental Lobbyist
  • Historic Preservationists
  • Museum Attendants
  • Environmental Education Program Directors
  • Rehabilitation Counselors



Preparing for a Career

Fortunately, there is no one single major or degree that is required to work these industries. Social and Human services professionals tend to wear a variety of hats – volunteer coordinator, data guru, public relations specialist, etc. Individuals with a variety of skills will find success in many different nonprofit roles.These skills are highly sought after in the nonprofit sector

  • Communication (Written & Oral)
  • Development (Fundraising & Major Gifts)
  • Grant/Proposal Writing
  • Volunteer/Project Management
  • Foreign Language Proficiency
  • Data Analysis/Modeling
  • Counseling/Listening Skills
  • Graphic Design/Videography

Practical skills

Practical skills are an essential part of positioning yourself as a highly-sought-after candidate. VCU has a partnership with to provide free skills training. Consider taking some of these recommended courses as a part of your training.
Access VCU’s Lynda portal with your eID and password.

  • Write Effective Learning Objectives
  • Office 365: Excel Essential Training
  • Grant Writing for Education
  • Management Fundamentals
  • Having Difficult Conversations
  • Social Media for Nonprofits
  • Nonprofit fundamentals
  • Data Visualization Storytelling Fundamentals
  • Producing Professional Podcasts
  • Strategic Planning Fundamentals
  • Writing Proposals
  • Up and Running With Public Data Sets
  • Print Production Essentials: Direct Mail
  • Keynote: Using Photos and Videos Effectively for Great Presentations
  • Up and Running with Online Survey

Internship, Shadowing and Volunteering Resources

Experience matters. Fortunately, this industry offers numerous opportunities to build experience through volunteer working, shadowing opportunities and internships.

ASPiRE Living Learning Program
Division of Community Engagement
Student Leadership and Engagement
Hands on Greater Richmond
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network

Applying and Interviewing

Resumes and Cover Letters

Opportunity Search Resources

ConnectVA Local Career Portal
Idealist Nonprofit Jobs & Internships
Net Impact
Common Good Careers
United We Serve – Nationwide service initiative
Change Corp – Grassroots organizing
Volunteer Match
Service Year Exchange – Paid service opportunities
Guide to Social Work Licensure in Virginia 
Guide to Becoming a Social Worker

Meet with an Advisor

To schedule an appointment with a Human Service advisor, call (804) 828-1645 or log into your Handshake account.

Image of Krystle Dorsey, Assistant Director, Career and Industry Advising [View Image]

Virginia Commonwealth University
Division of Student Success
907 Floyd Avenue, Room 143
Box 842007
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2007

Phone: (804) 828-1645
Fax: (804) 828-2060
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Created by VCU University Relations

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