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Career and Education Opportunities for Social Services Assistants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

There are many career and education opportunities for social services assistants in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. About 18,300 people are currently employed as social services assistants in Pennsylvania. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 28% to 23,400 people employed. This is better than the national trend for social services assistants, which sees this job pool growing by about 22.6% over the next eight years. Social services assistants generally assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families.

A person working as a social services assistant can expect to earn about $12 hourly or $25,950 per year on average in Pennsylvania and about $13 per hour or $27,280 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Incomes for social services assistants are not quite as good as in the overall category of Social Work and Community Services in Pennsylvania, and not quite as good as the overall Social Work and Community Services category nationally. People working as social services assistants can fill a number of jobs, such as: social welfare clerk, community development worker, and day program instructor.

There are eighty-three schools of higher education in the Pittsburgh area, including one within twenty-five miles of Pittsburgh where you can get a degree to start your career as a social services assistant. Social services assistants usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become a social services assistant if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Social Services Assistant

Social Services Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, social services assistants assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. They also may assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them.

Every day, social services assistants are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment.

It is important for social services assistants to submit reports and review reports or problems with superior. They are often called upon to interview individuals and family members to compile data on social or drug history. They also keep records and ready summaries for owner or management concerning visits with clients. They are sometimes expected to confer with supervisor concerning programs for individual families. Somewhat less frequently, social services assistants are also expected to explain rules established by owner or management, such as sanitation and maintenance requirements, and parking regulations.

They also have to be able to care for children in client's home during client's appointments and oversee day-to-day group efforts of residents in institution. And finally, they sometimes have to assist clients with preparation of forms.

Like many other jobs, social services assistants must be reliable and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Pittsburgh include:

  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Medical Social Worker. Provide persons, families, or vulnerable populations with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's, cancer, or AIDS. Services include advising family care givers, providing patient education and counseling, and making necessary referrals for other social services.
  • Mental Health Counselor. Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. May help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; suicide; stress management; problems with self-esteem; and issues associated with aging and mental and emotional health.
  • Mental Health Social Worker. Assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, and education.
  • Probation Officer. Provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. Make recommendations for actions involving formulation of rehabilitation plan and treatment of offender, including conditional release and education and employment stipulations.
  • Substance Abuse Specialist. Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Social Services Assistant Training

California University of Pennsylvania - California, PA

California University of Pennsylvania, 250 University Ave, California, PA 15419-1394. California University of Pennsylvania is a medium sized university located in California, Pennsylvania. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 8,519 students and an admission rate of 61%. California University of Pennsylvania has a master's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated eight students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Housing Counselor: A Certified Housing Counselor objectively assesses the client's current financial situation; identifies problem areas the client may face recommends appropriate actions to help clients obtain and maintain adequate housing; evaluates the housing and financial status of low, moderate and middle-income families; and understands the essential workings of all aspects of the industry in order to help clients make appropriate housing decisions.

For more information, see the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education website.

Case Manager Certification: The CCM is the first nationally accredited case manager credential.

For more information, see the Commission for Case Manager Certification website.

Certified Community Action Professional: Certification is designed for current and emerging managers or leaders in the Community Action Profession.

For more information, see the Community Action Partnership website.

Certified Workforce Specialist: Candidates must pass all four (4) WPDP competencies exams (History of Workforce Development, Business & Jobseeker Specialist, Unemployment Insurance Specialist, and Labor Market Information Specialist).

For more information, see the International Association of Workforce Professionals website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania photo by Conk 9

Pittsburgh is located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It has a population of over 310,037, which has shrunk by 7.3% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Pittsburgh, 86, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Pittsburgh cost $196,700 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, one hundred eighty-five new homes were built in Pittsburgh, up from one hundred seventeen the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Pittsburgh are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 26.2% of Pittsburgh residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.5%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Pittsburgh is 7.8%, which is less than Pennsylvania's average of 8.4%.

The percentage of Pittsburgh residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 71.8%, is more than both the national and state average. Saint Pauls Cathedral, Saint Patrick Roman Cathlic Church and Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church are some of the churches located in Pittsburgh. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church.

Pittsburgh is home to the Mount Washington Overlook and the Golden Triangle as well as Magee Playground and Kennard Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Shadyside Shopping Center and Allegheny Center Mall. Visitors to Pittsburgh can choose from Best Western University Center, Avalon Motel and Four Points By Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport for temporary stays in the area.