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Human Services Pathway

Human services roles aim to help individuals live productive, rewarding lives.

The Human Services Pathway (HSP) program has been designed to help you get started in a rewarding career helping individuals navigate obstacles to overall well-being. There can be many different obstacles to having a good life such as: poverty, addiction, disease and disability, mental illness, discrimination, job loss, accidents, disasters or other life changing conditions or events.

Human services roles are all about helping people find stability, and can include everything from providing for basic needs like food and shelter, to helping people acclimate to society after incarceration. The work is about offering guidance in navigating the many services people qualify for that will promote self-sufficiency and happiness.

This work takes a village of interdisciplinary professionals and supportive workers and includes a wide array or specialties like social work, counseling, emergency management and many more. The HSP program will prepare you to get started in what could be a long and varied career in helping people navigate and overcome life's roadblocks.

This program is free to qualified students.
Contact us at 952.358.8343 to learn about when the next cohort will begin.

After successful completion of this program, you could apply for jobs as:

  • Eligibility Screener
  • Financial Case Aid Worker
  • Human Service Representative
  • Child Protection Aide
  • Child Welfare Specialist
  • Equity and Resources Coordinator
  • Public Assistance Program Eligibility Specialist
  • Program Associate


Human services professionals work to help individuals stabilize after crises and provide meaningful paths to happy and healthy lifestyles for individuals. They often work in the communities that they service in all geographic settings, including rural, urban and metropolitan areas, but typically support underserved individuals in:

  • Social service agencies serving people (Aging, Violence Prevention, Chemical Dependency, Housing, Nutrition, Immigration, Mental Health, Child Welfare, Natural Disasters and so many more)
  • Healthcare entities
  • Community based organizations
  • County or State agencies
  • Non-profit organizations or associations
  • Residential Settings


The frontline Human Services worker’s responsibilities vary depending upon role, organization and people served. Some common duties may include:

  • Determine client eligibility for public assistance programs
  • Support vulnerable populations in navigating benefits and services for which they are eligible
  • Collect and maintain appropriate client and program data in various computer systems
  • Assist with budgeting, documentation and reports applicable to case load and projects assigned
  • Collaborate with a team on cases that have shared responsibilities
  • Attend court hearings or other meetings to make recommendations about a person’s living situation to other professionals
  • Contribute to program and process improvement initiatives

Normandale has partnered with Project for Pride and Living (PPL), a community-based organization on the delivery of this program, which is free to qualified students. Students will receive support in areas such as career readiness, personal financial management and other assistance as needed.

Program Components
  1. Orientation and Essential Workplace Skills Certificate - This virtual or instructor-led series of short courses are designed to help individuals assess their own strengths and gain some fundamentals for college success. These are non-credit topics for interpersonal preparation and success in the program and beyond.
  2. College Credit Courses – Complete a series of college classes to earn college credits. Classes are typically scheduled in the evenings from 5:30 – 8:30 pm either via zoom or in person.
  3. Experiential County Employment Sessions – Learn what it might be like to actually work in one of the metro counties, as a human service worker. Interact with current employees, potential supervisors and experience a “day in the life” of a human services worker. Ask questions and learn firsthand if this work is for you. Application processes to specific jobs available at the counties will also be covered.
  4. Employment – After completing the HSP certificate you can begin to apply for human services positions. With support from our partner, Project for Pride and Living, we will help get you connected to employers who are hiring human services workers.
  5. Degree Options – After completing the HSP, you can further explore human services, public health or social work degree programs at Normandale or partner colleges/universities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who might be interested?
  • Individuals wanting to transition into meaningful, community-based work
  • Individuals already working in human services support roles wishing to increase their skills and employability
  • Individuals with culturally specific experience wanting to support people in their community
  • Individuals wanting to pursue human services career pathways.
Why train to become a Human Services Worker?

Improving Individuals and Communities - This is a career whereby you have the opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of people in your own community. You will be advocating for underserved individuals to receive services and resources to address their important health needs and improve their quality of life.

Variety is part of the job - No two days are the same. Every day will provide a different set of challenges to keep your work life interesting. It provides the opportunity to interact with a broad range of people, learning new skills every day and the satisfaction of helping people who have been thrown curveballs to get back on their feet.

Meet lots of new people - You’ll work as part of a close-knit team and will interact with individuals, community members, health providers and others to problem solve and provide needed resources for improved life enhancing outcomes.

Career Progression – Human Services careers are actively involved with improving the lives of people and communities. As you begin your career as a human services worker, you’ll enjoy work that cannot be replaced by technology. You’ll learn and grow and attain skills that will help people overcome life’s hurdles. You will have ample opportunities to advance your knowledge, experiences and career path.  

Self-Fulfillment - You'll have great satisfaction in life knowing that you wake up every day working to improve the lives of those around you. The primary goal of human services is to help people exceed their limitations in life, thereby allowing them to reach new heights. Your contributions will make a difference!

Culture and Diversity - Many human services roles open doors to working with and learning about diverse cultures. Expand your awareness an knowledge and learn from clients, peers and healthcare partners.

What Characteristics make good Human Services Workers?

A successful human services worker should know how to handle themselves in every situation, with a well-rounded skillset so they can adapt to the many circumstances and stakeholders they will encounter supporting individuals in overcoming life’s obstacles.

  • Relationship building - If you’re someone who values connections with others and excels at nurturing those relationships over time, you will thrive as a human services worker. You will need to showcase your understanding that everyone has value and can make contributions toward a solution to whatever problem has presented itself.
  • Empathy – You might have experienced some of the same circumstances you find your clients in and that allows you to fully understand their viewpoints and positions. Successful human service workers have a genuine compassion for the individuals and families they are serving. Your ability to put people at ease and give them a sense of calm and safety will be imperative.
  • Problem solving – Clients will present with major life challenges and difficult issues; you will need to be ready to respond. Easy solutions are not always readily available, so know that creative thinking, resourcefulness and persistence will be needed when the going gets slow or tough.
  • Flexibility - It’s important to have a solid understanding of all of the possible options available and be able to navigate the complex systems of healthcare, government and social services. What works for one client, might not be repeatable for the next.
  • Positive Attitude - There’s not always a clear answer to every challenge. Sometimes you’ll have to get creative to splice together the right resources to help an individual gain access to the services that will improve their lives. Your positive approach will be appreciated by all the stakeholders working on improvements.
  • Communication Skills - Effective communication such as interviewing and active listening will ensure you make a personal connection with the client. If these skills don’t come easily to you, do what you can to gain skills and confidence in these areas.
  • Cultural Competency - No matter how much you might know about the place a person comes from, you can’t really assume you truly understand their culture entirely. This is why having an open mind and the ability to take people and groups as they are on a case by case basis is a big part of being culturally competent. Continually work on gaining understanding and skills in this area.
  • Attention to Detail - Attention to detail requires many skills including time management, organization, analytical as well as observational skills. Detail-oriented individuals are known for completing thorough work whereby you will be recognized for the effort and care you put into your projects and clients. It boosts your credibility and reliability.
  • Persistence – Advocating for individuals with social service needs is not always glamorous work. It takes time, stamina, and a determined work ethic to keep going when the going gets slow or tough.
  • Confidentiality - Confidentiality is a central tenant of human services work and is required by law and employers. It is important to both keep your client's confidences and know when it is time to reach out for support or supervision, such as in mandated reporting situations. Additionally, clients will be more likely to cooperate or participate in their care if they can trust that anything they share with you will be kept private.

For more information

Call – Velvet Walker, Adult Learning and Workforce Partnerships Director at 952/358-8343

Informal information sessions are held virtually on Mondays at 10am sponsored by Project for Pride and Living 

Additional Resources:

MN Dept of Education