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Career and Education Opportunities for Social Services Assistants in Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for social services assistants. The national trend for social services assistants sees this job pool growing by about 22.6% over the next eight years. 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.

A person working as a social services assistant can expect to earn about $13 per hour or $27,520 per year on average in Virginia and about $13 hourly or $27,280 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Compared with people working in the overall category of Social Work and Community Services, people working as social services assistants in Virginia earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Social Work and Community Services nationally. People working as social services assistants can fill a number of jobs, such as: social human services assistants, community organization aide, and visitor.

There are eighty-four schools of higher education in the Alexandria area, including four within twenty-five miles of Alexandria where you can get a degree to start your career as a social services assistant. Given that the most common education level for social services assistants is a Bachelor's degree, you can expect to spend about four years studying to be 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 Alexandria 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has a less than one year and an associate's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 225 and one students respectively in 2008.

Gallaudet University - Washington, DC

Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695. Gallaudet University is a small university located in Washington, District of Columbia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,389 students and an admission rate of 64%. Gallaudet University has a master's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties.

College of Southern Maryland - La Plata, MD

College of Southern Maryland, 8730 Mitchell Rd, La Plata, MD 20646-0910. College of Southern Maryland is a medium sized college located in La Plata, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,240 students. College of Southern Maryland has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated six and thirteen students respectively in 2008.

Marymount University - Arlington, VA

Marymount University, 2807 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207-4299. Marymount University is a small university located in Arlington, Virginia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,541 students and an admission rate of 84%. Marymount University has a bachelor's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated one student 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: Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia photo by SchuminWeb

Alexandria is situated in Alexandria City County, Virginia. It has a population of over 143,885, which has grown by 12.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Alexandria, 124, is far greater than the national average.

The three big industries for women in Alexandria are professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and health care. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 30 minutes. More than 54.3% of Alexandria residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 24.8%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Alexandria is 4.6%, which is less than Virginia's average of 6.4%.

Church of Resurrection Episcopal, Agudas Achim Synagogue and Alexandria Bible Church are some of the churches located in Alexandria.

Alexandria is home to the Circle Terrace Hospital and the Kate Waller Barrett Branch as well as Marina Park and Founders Park. Shopping centers in the area include Hamlet Shopping Center, Landmark Shopping Center and Arlandria Shopping Center. Visitors to Alexandria can choose from Comfort Inn-Landmark, Best Western Old Colony Inn and Hilton Inn for temporary stays in the area.