Job Profile: Health and Social Services Manager

Community initiatives are becoming more vital as statistics depict the nation's deteriorating public health. Poor eating and exercise regimens has led to a surge in diabetes diagnoses that's quadrupled to 22 million since 1980. Cancer is striking over 1.6 million people each year. Around 18 percent of United States civilians are suffering at least one disability. These harrowing facts provide the important of good social services to help the medically vulnerable. That's where health and social services managers come in. These experienced, mid- to senior-level administrators are responsible for developing and coordinating appropriate services to address public health needs. Health and social services managers work primarily in the public or nonprofit sector to oversee societal outreach efforts that promote healthy living.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the mean yearly salary for America's 119,770 health and social services managers was $69,430 in May 2015. This is equivalent to an average hourly wage of $33.38, or $1,352 each week. Health and social services managers employed by mental health facilities earn below-average at $62,200, whereas those in social advocacy organizations make $73,930. The highest paid work for the federal government at $97,550.

Beginning Salary

Depending on your experience level, breaking into health and social services management could provide a starting salary between $38,770 and $48,920 annually. As responsibility grows, health and social services managers can eventually make six-figure salaries beyond $108,960 each year. Those who attain the coveted role of Chief Social Officer earn $211,565 on average.

Key Responsibilities

Health and social services managers assume many roles to direct, budget, and create public health-related initiatives that improve community welfare. They'll analyze data collected about their local community and identify gaps were social services are needed. When developing a new program, managers will draft grant proposals, plan outreach marketing, organize fundraising campaigns, attract stakeholders, and recruit qualified healthcare staff. Health and social services managers oversee diverse clinical teams, including therapists, nurses, mental health counselors, health educators, and more. Their job never ends because social service programs continually need to be reviewed and audited for finding improvements. It's their duty to advocate for community health by effectively building accessible services.

Necessary Skills

Ambitious, confident, determined, and compassionate individuals can find success in health and social services management. Excellent verbal and written communication is vital for managers to convey messages to both staff and the public. Health and social services managers must be detail-oriented with the organizational skills to put the complex puzzle pieces of community efforts together. Basic mathematical abilities are important for forming and sticking with a budget, especially when funding is tight. Leadership skills are another must for health and social services managers to motivate clinicians to carry out the program's mission. Managers should have the critical thinking and strategy skills to fix any service-related problems professionally.

Degree and Education Requirements

Job listings for health and social services majors will mandate a four-year college degree at the minimum. Attending an accredited college or university for a bachelor's degree in social work, counseling, nonprofit management, health administration, or a related field is suggested. Some also transition into health and social services management after studying government or public policy. Managed public health services is advanced work, so most employers prefer candidates who attended graduate school. Earning a Master of Healthcare Administration, Healthcare MBA, or Master of Public Health (MPH) makes the most sense. Clinical MSW programs from CSWE-accredited universities could also be beneficial. Pursuing a doctoral degree can unlock executive, consulting, and teaching positions.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Making the decision to become a health and social services manager isn't one to take lightly because there are rewards and challenges. On the sunny side, this upper-level occupation provides a handsome paycheck with excellent benefits. Extroverts enjoy being able to continually collaborate with healthcare colleagues and the greater public. Health and social services managers reap great satisfaction from coordinating services that potentially help thousands improve their healthiness. The job outlook is rather promising with faster-than-average growth through the decade. Traveling to different cities and states could be exciting for some health and social services managers. However, the title comes with hefty stress to keep programs helping the vulnerable when budgets dwindle. Health and social services managers frequently work beyond 40 hours to meet with stakeholders and give presentations. Having advanced training is typically preferred, which also means high tuition bills.

Getting Started

Studying health and social services management is the classroom isn't sufficient. Employers want to see impressive resumes packed with hands-on community experience. During your collegiate years, volunteer or work part-time with nearby social welfare organizations. Apply for internships or practicum in health-related service agencies. Get active in outreach clubs on-campus and develop managerial skills by becoming a club leader. After graduation, explore social services jobs relevant to your interests. Working as a counselor, caseworker, child welfare agent, or human service assistant could get your foot in the door. Most health and social services managers need three to five years of experience. Consider becoming licensed for public health or social work to improve your chances. Certification like the NASW's Certified Social Work Case Manager credential could also aid in advancement. This will require at least 4,500 paid hours of professional experience.

Future Outlook

Demand for health-focused social services programs are rising exponentially as public well-being is threatened in many capacities. Aging baby boomers are increasingly seeking help through daycare, meal delivery, assisted living, and home healthcare. Approximately 23 million adults nationwide suffer from addiction, so many substance abuse programs are being established. Criminal offenders are often sent into social services for rehabilitation rather than prison. Community-based health facilities devoted to individuals with disabilities, especially autism, are ever more prevalent too. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for health and social services managers will grow by 10 percent through 2024. That will create around 13,200 openings in family services, government agencies, public health departments, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, clinics, and more.

Health and social services managers carry seniority in organizing community programs that support public health, from parks and recreation to disability support and elderly care. Not only is this career hot in the United States, but it's also ranked among Canada's best jobs by Canadian Business. Rising the ranks to health and social services manager will provide a gratifying opportunity to touch community members' lives outside the typical hospital setting.

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