Health Services vs Human Services: Career ROI

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Updated: March 25, 2024, Reading time: 7 minutes

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Health Services and Human Services are degree programs that, at first glance, may seem similar but are, in fact, different. What sets them apart from each other?

In general terms, the Health Services degree prepares students for careers working within the healthcare system (particularly in managerial or administrative roles). In contrast, the Human Services degree is oriented more toward working with various segments of society and improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable sectors. 

Let’s unpack these points and take a deeper look into the two degrees, discussing their core activities, paths to entry, and even some closely related alternatives.

College Cliffs is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

A Quick Look at Health Services and Human Services Programs

Neither field is easy! The healthcare and human services industries are characterized by high-stress environments, with little margin for error both in terms of finances and resources. The sectors pay attention to the potential impact of their work on people’s health and well-being.

Here’s how they differ:

Health ServicesHuman Services
Median Pay (2022, BLS)* Medical & Health Services Managers: $104,830
* Health Information Technologists & Medical Registrars: $58,250
* Probation Officers: $59,860
* Social Workers: $55,350
* Mental Health, Substance Abuse Counselors: $49,710
* Health Education Specialists: $59,990
* Community Health Workers: $46,190
Job Growth, 2022-2032 (BLS)* Medical and Health Services Managers: 28%
* Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars: 16%
* Mental Health Counselors: 18%
* Community Health Workers: 14%
Focus* Prepares students for careers within various healthcare settings, often in managerial positions
* Work involves setting overall strategy, improving efficiency, managing finances, and human resources
* Works with the most vulnerable and needy sectors of the population
* Gives access to various services and resources to improve quality of life
Educational Requirements for Entry* A bachelor’s degree
* A master’s degree for more advanced career opportunities
* A bachelor’s degree, though some require only a high school diploma
* A master’s degree for more advanced career opportunities
Other DetailsSimilarly structured to other Business and Management-oriented degree programs.Similar to the field of Social Work

Despite the overall differences between the two fields, Health Services and Human Services share some similarities, particularly in their managerial aspect, as both require management skills. 

All About Health Services

All About Health Services - Image

Professionals in the field of Health Services are often tasked with managing teams or departments within these settings as managers, administrators, or supervisors. In many instances, their work involves overseeing doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals.

Other typical tasks also include coordinating care, managing finances and human resources, and helping craft various policies and strategies that align with a company or agency’s overall long-term goals.

Essentially, health services managers cover the other aspects of the healthcare industry operation that are outside the work done by medical staff or the business side of things.

Health Services Education and Career Paths

A Bachelor’s in Health Services utilizes business and management principles for application in healthcare settings, such as such as hospitals, health insurance providers, public health agencies, and other similar organizations. 

It overlaps with the undergraduate Healthcare Management courses in terms of the administrative, management, and leadership responsibilities it emphasizes. A Bachelor’s in Public Health or the growing field of Health Science is also an alternative degree to earn.

Health Services develops students’ skills in finance, budgeting, strategic thinking, human resources, and other core business competencies. An academic background in Health Informatics can lead to a Human Services career as well.

While this degree is aimed at the healthcare industry, students can also conceivably find careers in other industries, given the degree’s emphasis on building a strong foundation in business and management.

A master’s degree is seen as one of the keys to further career advancement, with an MBA being one of the most obvious choices. Most MBA programs are offered with a concentration in Health or Healthcare Management. There are other master’s degree programs that can also be a good fit, such as a Master’s in Public Health, Healthcare Management, or Healthcare Administration.

These are some of the careers that Health Services graduates can take:

Like other professions and industries, there are Health Services Management Professional Associations that students can join early on. These organizations can be helpful in terms of career development as well as staying on top of industry trends.

Some professional organizations include the American College of Healthcare Executives or ACHE, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management or AAHAM, and the Health Care Administrators Association or HCAA.

A career in Health Services is a good fit if:

A career in Health Services is not a great fit if:

All About Human Services

All About Human Services - Image

Human Services is concerned with how people operate within a society’s various structures and largely emphasizes bringing various social services to all, especially the most needy and marginalized sectors of society.

A degree in Social Work equips students to work with people at the individual, family, and community levels. Social Work is also considered a sub-field of the wider Human Services field. 

In this sense, Human Services and the work it entails are similar to Social Work and its many specializations. While the two disciplines retain the overall goal of improving the quality of human life, they differ in terms of scope. 

Human Services Education and Career Paths

A degree in Human Services, meanwhile, has a more interdisciplinary design. It goes by the principles of Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Criminal Justice, and more.

A degree in Human Services also prepares students to effect social change at a more overall/wide-scale level, such as in terms of policy or connecting needy populations to various resources.

These are some of the possible careers:

The field of Human Services typically requires a bachelor’s degree as a minimum field of entry, although some careers only require a high school diploma or an associate’s degree. In terms of access to more and better-paying career opportunities, meanwhile, a Master’s Degree in Human Services is still seen as the standard.

If you’re pursuing top-level consulting, executive, or teaching careers, earning a Ph.D. in Human Services should be in your plans.

A career in Human Services is a good fit if:

A career in Human Services is not a great fit if:

Health Services vs Human Services - fact

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