Although their names sound awfully similar, there is a major difference between human resources and human services that you should be aware of to pick the right career path. Both of these career areas involve a wide variety of jobs involved in working with other people to improve overall well-being and functioning. However, human resources is focused on managing the personnel of a business or company to increase its effectiveness and human services is centered on empowering individuals or communities to overcome social problems. In order to assist you in finding the right fit for your skill sets and personal interests, below we’ve created an in-depth look at the unique aspects that separate human resources from human services.

About Human Resources

Often referred to as human resource management or personnel management, human resources is a specialized business field that focuses on the recruitment and management of the people working for a certain organization. Human resources typically deals with the compensation, benefits, hiring, firing, safety, wellness, and training of employees. In today’s competitive business world, human resources is becoming increasingly important for cultivating a positive workplace culture in which employees contribute effectively and productively to accomplish the company’s overall objectives. Human resources professionals are employed in nearly every industry from manufacturing to healthcare and government to help manage human capital for organizations of all sizes.

About Human Services

On the other hand, human services is a broad interdisciplinary field with a commitment to improving the overall quality of life in diverse populations through meeting basic human needs and remediating social problems. Often referred to as social services or social work, human services includes the jobs which provide service to society, particularly in times of vulnerability or crisis. Human services professionals help others navigate through trying situations to overcome obstacles, rediscover their self-sufficiency, and move forward in their lives. Human services usually includes service work in government extensions, non-profit organizations, social service agencies, private practices, hospitals, and mental health centers.

Differences in Education

One of the biggest differences between these two fields is their educational requirements, despite the fact that their respective degrees may have some similar course content. Aspiring HR professionals typically need to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in human resource management from an accredited business school. Programs aligned with SHRM guidelines will give a broad introduction to the business world before specifically focusing on the management skills related to maintaining a happy and healthy workforce. While there is a growing number of human services degree program available, there are a number of different acceptable degrees to choose from. Students often choose to receive degrees in counseling, social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, sociology, public health, education, or criminal justice.

Whereas human resources is conducted in HR departments to boost employee satisfaction and support the company’s goals, human services is a broader field conducted in service agencies to help people change their behaviors or thoughts for improved quality of life. Entering either one of these fields will require you to have a passion for working with people as well as solid listening, speaking, problem-solving, and leadership skills. Now that you know the main difference between human resources and human services, you can determine which of these careers will best help you leave your long-lasting impact on people’s lives.