How to work with the homeless (with salaries and job duties)

Updated 8 September 2023

Thousands of people face homelessness every year due to financial challenges, debt, housing prices, domestic violence and other issues. Pursuing a career path that positively impacts the homeless population can be fulfilling and highly rewarding. Understanding the various ways of working with the homeless can help you decide if this is the right career choice for you and identify the role that suits you best. In this article, we discuss how to work with the homeless, including the career options available to you and frequently asked questions about working in this field.

Related: 10 jobs with a health and social care degree (plus salary)

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How to work with the homeless

Follow these steps to learn how to work with the homeless:

1. Learn about the different roles available and their eligibility criteria

The first step is to learn about the different roles and job profiles available in this field. Determine if you would like to work directly with the homeless community or support them indirectly through back-end work. Identify job roles that match your interests, aptitude and personality traits. While researching available roles, consider volunteering at a nonprofit or charity organisation to gain a foundation of experience, develop an understanding of current social programmes and learn about professional opportunities in this field.

2. Obtain necessary certifications and skills and update your CV

Determine the eligibility criteria for roles in which you are interested. Each role comes with specific educational and skill-based requirements. Thus, the next step is to pursue the right certifications, development opportunities and courses to ensure that you fulfil the basic eligibility criteria for these roles. Make sure that your CV reflects these educational qualifications and skills.

Read more: How to develop your skill set for career success

3. Refer to trusted sources for employment-related information

It is important to refer to authorised and trusted sources for information on open positions. While an online job portal is a good place to find job opportunities, you can refer to other sources as well. Consider browsing the websites of various charities for open positions you may be interested in. If there is a certain organisation that you're interested in working with, ensure that you regularly check for vacancies on their jobs page.

Related: Resume vs CV: what are the differences?

4. Apply for jobs and clear interviews

When you apply to open positions, consider customising your CV to each role's requirements so you can highlight important skills. To ensure your CV is effective, tailor it to meet the organisation's needs so you can offer recruiters a good idea of why you may be a good match for the available position. Preparing for an interview in advance ensures that you are confident and at ease, thus increasing your chances of securing the job.

Related: Interview question: 'what can you bring to this role?'

9 jobs that involve working with the homeless

These are some popular jobs that involve working with the homeless:

1. Support worker

National average salary: £23,416 per year

Primary duties: Support workers work directly with the homeless community, helping them to live independently. The role involves helping them with general tasks or providing the necessary emotional support to handle crises. They can also help families meet their healthcare and personal needs, or educate them about managing their situation better. Skills necessary for this job include good communication, empathy, social skills and resilience. To enter this area, an educational background in the health and social care sector is beneficial.

Read more: How To Become A Support Worker: A Step-by-Step Guide

2. Social care manager

National average salary: £31,164 per year

Primary duties: Social care managers are also referred to as community service managers. Their job involves managing and supervising support programmes for organisations. Social care managers lead and mentor social workers who directly assist the homeless community in a variety of ways. Their work generally involves working with stakeholders and members of the community to identify programmes and services, overseeing administrative tasks to ensure they meet stakeholder objectives, analysing data on programme effectiveness, implementing improvement ideas, planning outreach activities, devising strategies for increased awareness and writing proposals for funding. A degree in social work is usually required for this career.

3. Policy analyst

National average salary: £37,064 per year

Primary duties: Policy analysts work in assisting agencies, public systems and partners to improve and develop innovative housing solutions for the homeless community. They conduct analyses of various public policies that affect the homeless and identify opportunities to influence and participate in the development of these policies. An educational background in public policy, political science, economics, business/public administration or science is beneficial for this career option. Some important skills related to this position include data analysis, research and excellent written skills.

4. Registered nurse

National average salary: £29,728 per year

Primary duties: Registered nurses are healthcare professionals who can also work in the social sector. A registered nurse serving the homeless community works to support and cater to various personal and healthcare needs of homeless individuals. They can help the community through health clinics that deliver cost-effective healthcare, or through health promotion or screening programmes. While working in the social sector often entails an additional degree in social work, there are various integrated programmes that combine nursing and social work curriculum in a single degree.

5. Family support worker

National average salary: £23,416 per year

Primary duties: A family support worker works with families dealing with conditions such as homelessness, eviction threats or poor housing conditions and helps them resolve such issues. These professionals aim to protect the wellbeing, health and human rights of concerned individuals so they can live free from abuse, neglect or harm. They may even address parenting difficulties, child behavioural issues, mental health and other problems that can arise because of a crisis. Family support workers establish a personal relationship with families while evaluating eligibility for public aid, taking them through the application process and assessing their other needs.

6. Community health worker

National average salary: £25,716 per year

Primary duties: A community health worker serving the homeless community creates a connection between the community and healthcare providers. These professionals help patients easily access various health and social service systems and educate healthcare providers about the health needs of the community. They help homeless families determine their eligibility for available health insurance plans, and may walk them through the enrolment processes. Community health workers can help address and reduce social isolation among homeless patients. Depending upon their skills, they may take on various areas such as outreach, education, advocacy, social-emotional support and health services.

7. Urban planner

National average salary: £37,300 per year

Primary duties: An urban and regional planner works towards the interests of the homeless community and may ensure the provision of affordable housing options through various inclusive housing methods. These professionals often attempt to improve the lives of community members and tackle the challenges associated with urbanisation, including homelessness. They can work to include the needs of the homeless community at large, along with various intervention and preventive measures as a part of their objectives. A master's degree in urban or regional planning is usually required.

Related: How to become a housing officer (plus duties and skills)

8. Clinical psychologist

National average salary: £48,142 per year

Primary duties: Clinical psychologists can help ease the challenges of the homeless community to a significant extent with their services. They can help individuals deal with the negative mental effects of homelessness, like guilt, shame, uncertainty, trauma, addiction, stress and generally poor mental health. In these conditions, when individuals experience a complete loss of control, counsellors and therapists can help them identify available choices and make informed decisions. These professionals can help the homeless community rebuild emotional security, self-esteem and take back control of their lives. They can help their clients identify their strengths and work towards developing resiliency.

9. Marketing executive

National average salary: £26,503 per year

Primary duties: A marketer working for a homeless charity organisation can help build marketing campaigns to build rapport with supporters. These executives work with charities to produce leaflets and reports to maximise their presence. Marketing professionals help create engaging content for charity websites and their various social media platforms to spread awareness of issues of homelessness within a community setting. They may also handle press enquiries on behalf of the organisation. Marketing executives work on developing new strategies to increase funding involvement amongst the general public.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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