How to Become a Human Services Manager: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Human services management sounds dry. It’s not. Human services managers are leaders who run departments and programs that help communities, in areas like mental health, education nutrition, unemployment and medical assistance. Often working with nonprofits or government, human services managers reach out to communities and work to understand their needs, shaping programs that make people’s lives better.


Annual salaries for human services managers will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for human services managers working in the U.S. was $65,750 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for human services managers, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Human Services Manager

California is the nation’s leader in employment for human services managers, with 13,360 currently earning an average yearly salary of $73,990. New York State is second for human services managers, with 10,560 employees who make an average salary of $78,650.

The metro areas employing the most human services managers are:

  • New York-White Plains (6,450)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (3,500)
  • Chicago-Joliet (3,410)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of human services managers are:

  • Bismarck, ND (4.57 per thousand jobs)
  • Waterbury, CT (2.72 per thousand jobs)

The metro areas employing the best-paid human services managers are:

  • Madera-Chowchilla, CA (annual average salary $91,200)
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA (annual average salary $90,380)

Employment and Salary Information for Human Services Managers

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a human services manager. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Human Services Management

Why Become A Human Services Manager?

Human services managers do important work for disadvantaged people. The work is rewarding in its own right, but also offers many benefits to people who choose it.

  • Fast-growing area. The number of human services managers is projected to grow 21% between 2012 and 2022—much faster than the average job.
  • Work with the disadvantaged. Human services managers usually work with the least advantaged communities in our society, making a difference for the most vulnerable people.
  • Good pay. Average annual pay in 2013 was $65,750 per year.
  • Wear many hats. You’ll design, implement, manage, and evaluate programs, doing a very wide variety of work.

Human Services Management: What You Need To Know

Human services managers need to be efficient managers who are in tune with the communities they work with. They need to understand the kinds of solutions that can resolve social and health problems in their communities, and be able to prove those solutions work. A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Organization and Administration
  • Community Outreach
  • Public Awareness Campaigns
  • Understanding of Community Issues
  • Management Skills
  • Data Analysis

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about human services management careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Human Services Management Careers

Bachelor’s degree

Most people will first have to earn a Bachelor’s degree and gain experience working with the public through in the human services field.

Many human services managers come from backgrounds in social work, counseling, public policy and other related fields prior to moving into a management role.

Work experience is a key factor in becoming a human services manager: it’s not an entry-level position. Many employers will only consider candidates who have several years of service in social work or similar occupations. You’ll also need to demonstrate skills in leadership, budgets, interpersonal communication and personnel management to show you’ll be able to succeed in the role.

Master’s degree

Some organizations may only be interested in candidates who have obtained a master’s degree. For human services managers, the most useful degrees are those in urban studies, public administration, social work, business administration, and public health.