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AAS Graduates Leveling Up to More Pay by Filling Critical Mental Health Jobs
Starting in December 2019, graduates from St. Charles Community College’s Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) program in Human Services can be considered for social work positions that typically require a four-year degree. The decision affects the hiring practices of a broad coalition of mental health providers across the state. Traditionally, the Missouri Department of Mental Health requires a bachelor’s degree to fill critical positions like community behavior support specialists – frontline case workers in the mental health system.
“Employers found that the staff they needed for these positions were hard to find and weren’t staying in the position for long once they were hired,” said Sylvia Malta, LCSW, MSW and associate professor of Human Services at SCC. “These positions require employees to work one-on-one with their clients in challenging environments. After some research, the Department of Mental Health saw that those employees with associate degrees can do the job just as well or better and tend to stick around longer.”
SCC has approximately 70-75 students in the program and graduates roughly 10-12 each semester, helping to fill a widening personnel gap in the market.
“What many of the agencies that staff for these positions have asked me is: ‘How many people can you send us?’” Malta said.
The credentialing will give SCC students the chance to qualify for these positions and earn as much as if they held a bachelor’s degree – up to $17 per hour.
“This change offers our graduates increased salary, increased marketability, fills a critical skill and personnel gap and helps service an underserved patient population. There are a lot of hurting people out there, and our graduates can help them get the mental health services they need,” Malta said.
Learn more about Human Services at https://www.stchas.edu/academics/departments/Human-Services.