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  • Writer's pictureAllison Styffe

Career Clusters: people helping people

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

In our Which Cluster is the One For You? post, we shared that the Career Clusters framework is one of many ways to learn more about the occupations that exist in the world. Knowing more about career clusters can help you narrow down not only which cluster is right for you, but more specifically which pathway(s) and occupation(s) might bring you the most fulfillment.

This week, we're going to take a look at the Human Services clusters. The careers in this slice of the occupational pie are all about humans helping humans, meeting the needs of other's on an individual and/or societal basis. From counseling to teaching, law enforcement to foreign policy, if you have a drive to make the world a better place by supporting people and the systems in which we operate, this cluster might be for you. Not so sure? Take the assessment we recommended in our first post to see if this cluster ranks near the top! Then come back to learn more through this post, where we'll cover:

  • what kinds of pathways and occupations are found in this career cluster

  • programs that can help you explore careers in the human services realm while still in high school

  • courses that will help you to develop knowledge & skills that can prepare you for this industry


Pathways & Occupations

This grouping is organized into four clusters, each with a handful of career pathways, and a variety of occupations within each pathway. Click the links below to see learn more about each cluster, including careers in each pathway based on education level.

Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security Do you like the idea of protecting people? Can you work in the face of danger? Do you want to help people figure out the legal system? Law, public safety, corrections, and security workers are found in a variety of settings. For example, you might guard the public and enforce the law as a police officer or security guard. Or, you might provide fire protection as a firefighter. Other workers provide legal services to people who commit crimes. For example, you might monitor activities within a prison, advise clients of their legal rights, or research legal procedures to support court cases.

Government & Public Administration Are you interested in politics? Are rules and laws important to you? Government and public administration workers help pass and enforce the law. You could work in national, state, or local government. You will find almost every type of occupation within the government, including some jobs that are only found within government. For example, you might inspect new or remodeled buildings for safety, help people file the paperwork for a marriage license, or create proposals for urban development.

Human Services Do you care about people and want to help in some way? Human services workers help individual and families meet their personal needs. You might work in a government office, hospital, nonprofit agency, nursing home, spa, hotel, or school. Or, you might work in your own home. For example, you might help students with career and education choices at a high school (hey, that's me!), cut and color hair in a salon, or manage funeral services at a funeral home

Education & Training Would you like to get paid to help others learn new things? Education and training workers guide and train people. As a teacher, you could influence young lives. You could also support the work of a classroom teacher as a counselor, librarian, or principal. You could coach sports activities or lead community classes. You could also work with adults. For example, you could lead training to employees in a business. Or you could work as a university or college professor for undergraduate or graduate students.


Career Exploration

If you think you may be interested in a career as a helper, there are a few ways to start getting experience and exposure now to help explore the kind of work involved in this slice of the career pie. The following entities provide excellent opportunities to dip your toes in these clusters —

Local Clubs

Whether it's through your local high school or your community college, there's likely a club nearby that can give you a glimpse into certain occupations while doing so alongside peers. Model UN is a great one for those looking into the Government & Political Admin cluster, while Mock Trial or Speech & Debate are excellent choices for those keen on the Legal Services or Governance pathways.

Volunteer Work

Careers in these clusters are often government-sponsored and therefore tend to thrive on volunteerism. Whether it's an ongoing program or short-term opportunity, chances are there is a way for you to get hands-on experience in exchange for your time and service. For example, those interested in law enforcement can check their local cadet program for openings. Anyone wanting to explore educational roles can volunteer with local after-school or summer programs for youth. Considering counseling & mental health? Give help and hope to peers going through a hard time through Oregon YouthLine.

Virtual Job Shadow Username: BakerWebS16, Password: CareerPrep2020! All Baker students have access to this virtual platform, with videos and resources that give you a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of hundreds of occupations. To get started, click on the Careers menu at the top, then Career Central. From there, click on the Filter By: Cluster button, and select any of the clusters from today's post from the menu on the left-hand side.


Knowledge & Skills

There are many classes you can take at your local community college to help build foundational knowledge and skills that will prepare you for a career in human services. If you're a Baker Web Academy student who would like to take one or more courses through your community college, contact our Enrollment Specialist, Kimberly Linn.

Here are a few I strongly recommend—

Psychology & Sociology

Among the major threads woven across all of these career clusters are these two disciplines: psychology and sociology. Understanding how people work and how society's structures impact us will be essential when working in human services. These types of classes will also count toward general education requirements, so talk with your advisor about which classes in particular might be the best fit for you and your goals.

Political Science

If you're the Law, Public Safety, Corrections, & Security or Government & Public Administration clusters, hop on to the opportunity to take some political science courses now. While an Intro to US Government and Politics course is a great place to start, you can dive deeper into specific, practical areas through other classes like State/Local Government or Comparative Politics, or even something more theoretical like Political Thought.

Communication A foundational element to any human or public services career! While many of you will take Public Speaking during your time with BEC, it may behoove you to continue on with another course or two in this area, such as Interpersonal or Small Group Communication. For those considering a pathway in legal services, an Argumentation and Critical Discourse class would be an excellent choice.

Career-Specific Courses The careers among these clusters are vast, and certain skills required for each pathway are unique. Therefore, it would be wise to check out which career-specific courses are offered at your local college to see if there are any that align with your future interests.

Interested in teaching? Look into Intro to Education and Developmental Psychology. Any future detectives out there? See if your school offers Forensic Anthropology. Thinking about the dietitian or athletic trainer roles? Research at the Health classes available at your campus. Social Deviance can be a great option for anyone considering legal, corrections, or law enforcement services. Talk with your advisor about options at your school!

Want some personalized guidance? Click here to schedule a meeting with your career & college counselor today. Allison Styffe works with BEC students in Central, Southern, and Eastern Oregon. Jennifer Tracewell works with all BWA students as well as BEC students in Portland, Salem, and Eugene.
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