Dear Elcee:

       I have been thinking about going back to school now for the longest time. I really want to get into a career where I can really help people but am confused about all the offerings out there! I believe I would like to study social service and am trying to decide between a one year private college and a two year community college. Help!

-- Sam


Hi Sam!

           Good for you to have decided on a career path!

           You didn’t tell me if you have any post-secondary education, so I will give you two options dependent upon your situation.

           If you have a degree in the social sciences behind you (i.e. sociology or psychology), you can consider a one year program at a private college, or check out the fast track programs at community colleges. If not, to be competitive in the job market, a two year college program is the minimum. Consider it like cooking a dish in a microwave – great for popcorn but you wouldn’t want to cook a roast in it. Community colleges have relationships with employers for placements and have established reputations .

            You may also wish to consider setting up information interviews with people in the social service field. Ask them what and where they studied. They will feel flattered to be asked.

            Anyone considering a career in a “helping” profession should start looking into volunteer work in that area as soon as possible (if you are not already doing so). Colleges and future employers in this area look at the volunteer work you have done for two reasons. They wish to see if you have a “clear picture” of your chosen profession, that you know the realities, and it will give them an idea of your commitment.

            Don’t forget to do your research. Most libraries, schools and employment centres have a subscription to the Career Cruising website.   This website can give you a great deal of information on your chosen field along with “day in the life” interviews and education expectations for hundreds of careers.

            Another great site to check out is This site will give you an idea of the job market for your field, accreditation requirements, average wages and labour market information.

           Of course, the best known site for jobs in the non-profit or social service field is Charity Village (  Another resource is which will provide an extensive array of articles on different professions among other great tools and resources.

          For volunteer work, both Charity Village and Volunteer Toronto list current volunteer openings. If you're looking into working in the non-profit sector, check out 211 has listings for all community resources in the GTA and can provide great insight into the many wonderful non-profits, NGO’s and other agencies working to assist people in our city.

          Good luck!!! 


Toronto, Canada