What are some top technical career paths in social services?

Posted by Will Pang | social services tech jobs

The field of social services can span multiple career options, depending on which of those paths you decide to pursue due to personal goals and interests. Plenty of people decide to work in a social services career because they want to help others in less fortunate positions.

Even if you don't want to work in a direct social service role, you can still help support and grow organizations that help others in their time of need. That’s why in this article we’ll be going over various tech-related jobs you can do while on a social working career path. 

Just a heads up, this guide is primarily created for those that are interested in a tech role within social services!

Data Analyst 

Social service organizations are increasingly relying on data to make critical decisions for their organization.

For example, a data analyst may collect and analyze information about a patient's current condition, when their next meeting is scheduled for, if their software needs to be updated, and new or existing customers to target. They also use this data to identify any inefficiencies and other potential problems that the organization needs to address. 

When a data analyst has a job with a social work organization, they develop and track metrics so the organizations' performance can be assessed and compared over time. The job involves more than simply looking through the numbers, a data analyst should be able to communicate & present insights and trends to other people and teams in the organization. 

The analyst needs to be aware of how to use the data to enable an organization to make informed decisions. Descriptive statistics, normal distribution, T-tests, analysis of variances and correlation-regression analysis are just what to expect on this career path.

If you’re someone who has a strong interest in looking at charts and analyzing data, then this position is PERFECT for you! You can find data analyst roles on Tech Jobs for Good here.

Software Engineer

Software engineering is a career path focused on the design and development of computer software and systems.

This career has become increasingly popular among social workers at the moment due to the increasing reliance on mobile technology, the expanding complexity of technology and emerging technologies. It seems that there is no end in sight to the increasing demand for skilled and qualified software engineers. 

This demand has become invigorated by a changing landscape and the need for technology solutions. With the massive amount of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet and that are collecting and sharing data, a social service organization is rapidly welcoming the technological expansion. 

Software engineers will have extensive knowledge of programming languages, software development, and operating systems and they apply all of this by creating software. By applying these engineering skills to every stage of the development process, from requirements analysis to software development and testing, they can develop customized systems for individual clients. 

A software engineer will be capable of thoroughly studying the requirements and systematically work through the development process. Social work organizations will be capable of using these software engineers to keep their systems not only up to date, but develop any software they may need to be tailored to their specifications, instead of relying on third-party applications that may be unsuited for them. You can browse software engineering roles on Tech Jobs for Good here.

Director of Information Technology

Perhaps one of the most accepted roles for technology in social work is in the area of information management. 

Most social service organizations, especially the bigger ones, are turning to special hardware and software designed to help providers organize client data, measure provider performance, and determine if a client is eligible for services. 

The Director of Information Technology will be overseeing the information technology strategy for an organization, creating and implementing the policies and goals for the information technology department. 

The IT director will analyze the business requirements of different departments and conduct viability studies to assess the best possible use of technical resources. Certain technical investments may include a new information system or upgrades done to either hardware or software components. The IT director is in charge of coordinating information systems managers and reporting to the Chief Information Officer. 

This isn’t an entry-level position though. Most people in this position have several years of experience working on engineering teams before getting to this level of role.

Data Visualization Specialist

Data visualization specialists are a career path that allows you to become an expert at translating statistical data in visual ways that can be useful for social workers. 

In order to better understand this career, they are in some ways statistical translators, as they are required to take often a complex combination of data that can be incredibly difficult to comprehend otherwise and present them in ways that are truly understandable. 

For the organizations that utilize them, they are vital in making sure that the team works at optimal efficiency when coming with data-informed decisions. 

Certain types of tools may be required depending on the job and whether your visualizations are intended for an internal or external company. Almost every data visualization job will require the person to be experienced with Relational Database Management Systems, and Structured Query Language (SQL) which is used to access data and manipulate it. 

At certain times, you’ll simply be required to be capable of effectively accessing and utilizing this data but others will want you to be more actively involved and developing data warehouses. Internal abstract data visualizations, data mapping, and data storytelling are things one can expect in this line of work. 

Lead Software Engineer

A lead software engineer will work closely with the organization to align technology solutions with their objectives and budgetary needs, and then proceed to implement those solutions. 

Responsibilities that a lead technology engineer should be expected are providing and developing expertise in a variety of manners for client industry concepts, practices, and procedures, demonstrating and reinforcing the value of a client to ensure retention, assess and establish necessary strategic long-term technology goals, policies and procedures for clients based on business objectives and budget requirements, and finally designing and overseeing implementation of technology solutions. 

Furthermore, you’ll need to manage agreement renewals and the overall recurring revenue of the team. Develop a concrete understanding of the services the organization provides and it’s technological needs. Act as a subject matter and industry experts and assist the departments with the technology being used. They also need to consult with senior members regarding IT needs and budget as well as develop strategic plans and roadmaps based on the budget.

Front End Web Developer

A front-end developer is a web developer that's capable of coding how a website looks and feels. While web design is the way a website will look, front end development is how that design will become implemented on the web. 

The pages on the website are a sum of layers, structures, design, data, content, and functionality. The web is a massive complex of HTML and under construction images without front-end developers taking the back-end data and developing a user-facing functionality. By implementing markup languages, design, scripts, and frameworks, front-end developers construction the environment for everything that users see and click on. 

A front-end developer in a social organization will make sure to link together the design and technology, packaging up the utility of the back-end and creating ways for users to interact with them. They do this by using website design files and converting them into HTML, JavaScript, or CSS code. These are considered the main building blocks of front end development. This will also include design/layout, content, buttons, images, navigation, and internal links. 

Everything a person sees, clicks or uses to input or retrieve information on a website is considered the work of a front-end developer. 

Their main interest is to ensure the user's experience and the technology they implement all comes down to how well they manage to accomplish that efficiency, speed, and smooth functionality. They are also in charge of ensuring that no bugs or glitches appear on the front end and that the design appears as it should through various platforms. Social service organizations will want their website to not only look great but function well. That why this position is important for social services to have to make sure their website remains constantly up to date and easy for clients to use. 

If you're interested in a front end developer job at a social service organization, browse our open roles here.

Back-End Developer

A different, yet somewhat similar position to that of a front-end developer. The back-end of a website is a mixture of technology and programming that powers a website, the behind the scenes functionality of a website.

A back-end of a website will normally consist of three parts that a user will never lay their eyes on: the server, an application, and a database. 

The back-end developer is someone who develops and maintains the technology required to power the components which enable the user-facing side of the website to exist. This back-end code includes a utility for everything the front-end developer will build. 

These developers have the responsibility for creating, maintaining, testing and debugging the entirety of the back-end. It does include the main application logic, databases, data and application integration, API and other back-end processes. 

As stated before, the back-end runs a website, the place where a user will not see or interact with, but it is constantly running in the background, delivering functionality and information. Back-end developers play a major role in web development teams and make sure that data and services required by the front end system are reliable and scalable.

Full-Stack Developer

Full-stack developers are individuals who are both familiar and comfortable with every single layer in computer software development. These developers have all the appropriate knowledge and capability to take a concept and turn it into a final product. They understand how every single piece works from top to bottom and will be able to anticipate any problems accordingly. 

While both front-end and back-end involve having to learn a remarkable amount of information, a full stack developer will be capable of seamlessly utilize both database and browser. They can navigate through databases, use PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and everything in between with no issue at all. 

If you’re someone who’s good in all aspects of programming or just like to do a little bit of everything, then this is the perfect role for you.

Conclusion

There you have it, a list of some of the top career paths for those who prefer a more technologically oriented path, but still wish to work with social service organizations. 

Technology has become an important facet in our day to day lives and social services have realized the importance of having people with technical expertise to ensure they can properly have their needs and wants running smoothly as possible. 

If you’re already in the tech sector or looking to land a tech role within a social services organization, then check out some of the open roles over on our job board.

We’ll also be publishing a new article shortly on the pros and cons of working in the social service field. If this is a topic that interests you, make sure you subscribe to our free newsletter!