Just because family, youth and community services is one of the easiest online master’s degrees you can pursue doesn’t necessarily mean your family will be on board with your plans for graduate school. If your family struggles to see the value of this service-oriented degree, you might persuade them based on merits like the potential for career advancement and salary increases or on the way this education will allow you to make an even bigger difference in the world.
Opportunities for Career Advancement
One of the biggest benefits of earning your master’s degree in family, youth and community services is qualifying for advancement to a role in social and community service management. Nearly one in four professionals working in a social or community service manager role has a master’s degree, according to O*NET.
On the other hand, most workers in the occupation of social and human service assistants don’t have this advanced education. A master’s degree isn’t in the top three most common educational paths for social and human service assistants, according to O*NET, and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that just 11 percent of this occupation has a master’s degree. You can safely conclude that most social and human service assistants who go on to earn a master’s degree also move into higher-level roles, including management positions.
Some of the different job titles you might hold in social and community service management include children’s service supervisor, social services director, community services director and vocational rehabilitation administrator, O*NET reported.
Better Salary Potential
At both the managerial level and the assistant level, workers in the field of human, social and community service can earn more with a master’s degree. Social and human service assistants who earn a master’s degree but don’t choose to pursue management roles still see a 35 percent wage premium for their advanced education, the BLS reported. The median salary with a master’s degree in this occupation is $13,000 more than that without a master’s degree.
Social and community managers already earn about $13,000 more per year than workers in the lower-level role of assistant. Those with a master’s degree see a 30 percent wage increase that equates to an extra $15,000 per year, according to the BLS.
As of 2019, the BLS reported a median wage of $67,150 for social and community service managers but noted that those working in local government agencies earned a median salary of $85,550. The top-earning 10 percent of the occupation makes upwards of 112,480.
The Chance to Make a Difference on a Larger Scale
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain
There’s no way to overstate the impact you can make on the individuals you work with in a role like youth counselor or youth worker. For some of these at-risk children, many of whom have experienced traumas that the average adult can barely conceive of, your direct influence on their life may well be the only source of stability and support in their life.
However, the number of children whose lives you can improve is limited, even if the positive influence you have on their lives is not. You can only work in a direct capacity with so many children over your career. Further, many child and youth workers feel frustrated when administrative policies quash their attempts at advocacy purely because it’s “the way things have always been done” in an organization or agency.
When you become a social or community service manager, there’s a lot more you can do to make a difference in big-picture terms. You evaluate the effectiveness of existing social programs and develop plans to improve the programs themselves and access to and awareness of those programs, according to the BLS. If you see a need for a new type of program or support, you can help to create that service. Serving as one of the leaders involved in developing, fine-tuning and overseeing the administration of these services magnifies the difference you can make.
Although every career will have good days and bad days, some youth workers report that on bad days, they feel particularly helpless – like they’re doing little more with their undergraduate degree than a babysitting or daycare role they could’ve held with no degree.
Moving Forward With Your Family, Youth and Community Services Degree
Ultimately, you, not your family, are the one in charge of your professional future. Even if you can’t convince your family that a master’s degree in this area is valuable, you don’t have to give up on your dream. Perhaps you can start with a shorter and less expensive certificate program in children, youth and families first and see how you like your field of study. You could also pivot your educational path to a degree your family finds more acceptable, such as a Master of Public Policy with a concentration in Child, Youth and Family Policy.
Otherwise, you and your family can agree to disagree on the value of your graduate degree, and you can proceed with your original plan. If your family’s differing opinion of the degree makes paying for your education difficult, you can always look into programs that offer part-time options as well as scholarships and graduate assistantships.
Often, when family members disagree with your proposed course of study, their hearts are in the right place, even if their opinions are flawed. Once your family sees that your degree has added value to your career, they are likely to come around.