Human Services


Discover a career that allows you to help others. Elgin Community College offers certificate and degree programs that give you the specialized training you need, as well as the work experience required for certification. For more information, including specific courses and class descriptions, visit the ECC Catalog.

Human Services Generalist

Those majoring in the Human Services Generalist Program often find employment with an Associate of Applied Science degree. Many ECC graduates earn bachelor's and master's degrees in social work, counseling, or psychology. 

Human Services Substance Abuse Counseling 

This program prepares students to help people with substance use disorders manage their disease and choose pathways to recovery. The program is designed for those entering higher education for the first time and those who have an advanced degree but are seeking the State of Illinois Certification as an addiction recovery counselor. Experienced instructors teach all courses in the Human Services Department at Elgin Community College. 

Recovery Support Specialist

Recovery Support Specialists (RSS) draw on their own life experiences to help others develop and maintain their recovery from substance abuse and mental health disorders. RSS is a relatively recent addition to the treatment of individuals in recovery and ECC is excited to be among the first community colleges in Illinois to offer this program. Learn more about the Recovery Support Specialist certificate.


The Human Services Generalist Program is accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE).

The Human Services Substance Abuse Program is accredited by the Illinois Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Professional Certification Association, Inc. (IAODAPCA), the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE), and the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC).

Certificate Option

If you already have a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree, you will likely be able to transfer to many of the courses necessary for the Advanced Addiction Counselor Training Program. If you do not have a college degree, you will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree while earning credits toward the certificate. 

What jobs are in the human services field? 

Many graduates find employment in human service agencies. They help those in need through senior centers and community services agencies that provide food and shelter services, youth services, violence prevention, and substance use disorder recovery. 

Is human services a good career?

People who pursue this career are driven by their desire to help people. The work is both hard and extremely rewarding. A human services career allows for many diverse experiences and abundant opportunities for advancement in multiple fields such as organizational leadership, consulting, or private practice. 

How long does it take to be a substance abuse counselor?

You can complete the Advanced Addiction Counselor Training Program in as little as three semesters, but it often takes students a little longer. Time to completion is affected by many factors, including the number of credits you can transfer in and how many classes you're able to fit into your schedule each semester. 

Can I become a human services counselor without an advanced degree in Illinois?

A postgraduate degree (master's or doctorate) is not required to become a human services counselor. There are many opportunities for those with an associate degree or a certificate. It's an excellent way to start a career. Once you've completed the program, you'll be eligible to take the Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor examination. Upon passing that exam, you will be a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC), the credential in Illinois. Some students pursue a bachelor's degree at a four-year college in counseling, social work, and psychology. 

Human service professionals are in demand

Why choose human services as a career?

Human Services is the program of choice for people who want to help people. Human service professionals work in nonprofit and for-profit agencies and government human service providers.  Courses emphasize hands-on, practical applications that will prepare you to help those in need in a wide variety of settings.  

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that social and human service assistant jobs will grow 17 percent by 2030. That's much faster than the average career field. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social and Human Service Assistants, (accessed April 1, 2021).

See details about the salary and local job opportunities on the ECC Career Coach site.

Program Highlights

Prepare for Immediate Employment

Associate of Applied Science

Vocational Certificates

Basic Certificates

Planning to Transfer

Learn more about earning a Bachelor’s degree, earning summer credits for transfer, or dual admissions with a university by visiting University Transfer & Partnerships.

Learn more about associate degrees and certificates at ECC!

Earning an AAS degree or certificate in Human Services at Elgin Community College can set your career in motion.

Apply today