Social Work is a rewarding profession that requires hands-on effort in helping individuals and families improve the quality of their lives. It seeks to effect positive change in social systems and across various groups that is based on social justice and equity. As a part of the Community & Social Service Occupations category, social work helps people to overcome change, difficult challenges, and loss. What differentiates social work from the other human service professions is that it follows the person-in-environment framework. Social workers do not only focus on the individual’s struggles but also consider how they react in their environment.
Social Workers are dedicated men and women who pursue the attainment of social justice by providing direct services and through advocacy building. According to available data, social workers often find employment in the Individual and Family Services industry. Social work is a viable career choice for one can easily find jobs in human resources and hospitals. In 2019, social workers received an average annual salary of $50,470. You must be wise in choosing your undergraduate degree when you decide to join the workforce of 850,907. Entering the field can be very competitive, but having a degree in Social Work, Public Administration, and Social Service, Psychology, or Social Sciences will give you an advantage.
QUICK LINKS TO RESOURCES ON THIS PAGE:
- Top 10 Jobs and Salaries in Social Work
- Social Work as a Degree
- Types of Social Work Degrees
- Social Work Specializations
- Financing Your Social Work Education
- Online vs. Brick and Mortar Social Work Degrees
- Social Work Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook
- 30 Highest Paying Social Work Careers
- Unique Social Work Careers
- Travel Social Work Careers
- Social Work Schools, Degrees, and Rankings
Top 10 Jobs and Salaries in Social Work
- Corporate Social Responsibility Managers Salary: $85,709 per year
- Military Social Workers Salary: $49,878 to $82,393 per year
- Social Science Research Assistants Salary: $77,520 per year
- Speech Pathologists Salary: $77,510 per year
- Social Work Teachers & Professors Salary: $68,300 per year
- Public Policy Analyst Salary: $67,691 per year
- Veterans Affairs Social Worker Salary: $67,006 per year
- Social and Community Service Managers & Directors Salary: $65,320 per year
- School Counselor Salary: $56,310 per year
- Medical Social Workers Salary: $55,120 per year
Social Work as a Degree
The first step to landing a social work job is earning an undergraduate degree. A Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) is the most common and highly recommended degree for a career in social work. It is the primary requirement for an entry-level position, providing graduates with a strong foundation in human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics. However, a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) is required for clinical positions. In addition to an MSW, clinical social workers need to secure a state-issued license to practice their profession.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment outlook for social workers will grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028. Owing to the growing demand for healthcare and social service workers, a BSW is a practical and straightforward degree choice. In 2019, the Council on Social Work Education had accredited over 500 undergraduate degree programs and over 200 post-graduate degree programs.
Types of Social Work Degrees
Associate Degree in Social Work (ASW)
An Associate Degree in Social Work (ASW) is a two-year degree, providing students with introductory courses in social work practice. The degree is an ideal route to hold paraprofessional roles in the human services and social service field. ASW curriculum centers on social work classes while balancing topics in psychology, sociology, and ethics. Also, students are engaged in holistic course syllabi, touching on developing proficiency in human welfare. This will enable ASW degree holders to develop a broad and thorough understanding of their client’s needs.
Typically, the associate’s degree program requires the completion of 60 credit hours. Many community colleges offer an associate degree in social work, allowing students to transition to a bachelor’s degree. There are a few states that would enable ASW graduates to become Licensed Social Work Assistants. This makes pursuing an Associate’s in Social Work degree a promising choice, especially now that ASW is offered online.
Bachelors in Social Work (BSW)
A four-year degree, the Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) requires the completion of 120 credit hours of both foundation and general education courses. Many colleges and universities offer BSW, both online and on-campus degree programs. Due diligence is required of you when choosing the school. You must check whether or not it is among the over 500 undergraduate social work programs accredited by the Council of Social Work Education.
Bachelors in Social Work provides a strong foundation for social work professionals and practitioners. Most BSW curriculum features liberal arts and general education background while emphasizing experiential knowledge of social work. Students develop critical thinking and analytical skills – both of which are vital to performing as a social worker effectively. BSW majors take required courses, electives, as well as complete capstone requirements. Graduates gain a strong education background in social welfare policy, human behavior, research methods, social policy, and ethics. Most importantly, BSW is the first step to becoming a member of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). ASWB is the licensing examination that BSW degree holders take to become a licensed and duly certified Social Worker.
BSW to MSW
Many academic institutions have adopted a hybrid program, allowing undergraduate students to earn master’s credits while in college. This is an opportunity designed to earn a master’s degree in an accelerated format. The Bachelors in Social Work to Master’s of Social Work follows the same framework. This degree path, BSW to MSW, allows bachelor’s of social work majors earn and receive advanced credits for graduate school. Foundational courses earned while enrolled in BSW will be credited towards earning a master’s degree in social work. This will allow BSW to MSW students to complete their MSW in just one year, which totals to five years of study. Graduates from this format are eligible to apply for licensure.
Master in Social Work (MSW)
Clinical social work requires the completion of Master in Social Work (MSW) and the requisite licensure. Master in Social Work is a research and policy-oriented post-baccalaureate degree program designed for social workers and practitioners. It adopts an inter-disciplinary and critical discourse in examining global issues that affect both the individual and their external environment. Ideally, students who are planning to apply to a master’s in social work program are bachelors in social work degree holders. However, a bachelor’s in a related field will qualify you for the program.
A master’s degree is required in various supervisory, managerial and administrative roles as well as clinical positions. Students are exposed to concentrated coursework while dedicating the first year to introductory courses in social work. Earning an MSW will train you for clinical work and will open career opportunities only available to master’s degree holders. Graduates have a strengthened theoretical and ethical grounding in their social work practice. They are equipped to hold leadership roles, especially in designing social welfare and development policies.
FAQ: Why should I get a Master’s degree in Social Work?
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
The Doctoral program in Social Work (DSW) is dedicated to developing the future authoritative advocates for social justice. Through earning a DSW, you will enhance your ability to effectively address the issues and changes in complex societies and communities. Doctor of Social Work degree holders can effect definite changer toward the overall well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
DSW program highlights state-of-the-art research methodologies and best practices in the field of social work. Most curricula will offer advanced training in a specific area of choice in social work. It is imperative that you have gained a masters in social work to have a firm understanding of the field of study. Typically, students focus on social work administration and clinical practice. Completion of a residency requirement or a dissertation is required to earn a Doctor of Social Work degree.
Ph.D. in Social Work (Ph.D.)
The Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (Ph.D.) educates students at an advanced level in the field of social work. It prepares students for leadership positions in research facilities, the academe and social service areas. As opposed to DSW, Ph.D. in Social Work is more focused on the academic and research aspect of social work, and less on the clinical practice. Students complete a minimum of 76 credit hours of advanced courses in social work, including Theory Development, Conceptual Foundations in Social Work and Social Welfare, Social Policy Analysis, and Research Methods and Statistics. Applicants to the program must be a holder of MSW or equivalent degree in a related field.
FAQ: What types of online Doctorate degree programs are available if I wish to further my career in Social Work?
Social Work Specializations
Social Work programs offer various specializations, allowing students to tailor-fit their degree towards a specific career path. Here are the available areas of specialization in the field.
Community Social Work
Community Social Work deals with individuals belonging to various socio-economic, cultural, religious, and gender backgrounds. This area allows social workers to travel abroad, and bring their advocacies in poor communities. Community Social Workers work closely with nonprofit, nongovernmental institutions, and advocacy groups in designing programs for local communities. Data from BLS shows that community social workers can earn up to $48,998 annually by holding positions such as director, coordinator, or specialist.
Child, Family, and School Social Work
This specialization engages Child, Family, and School Social Work in providing support to children, especially to survivors of abuse. Child, Family, and School Social Workers help children, and vulnerable individuals address severe mental and physical illness, bullying, stress, or other behavioral problems. These social work practitioners aim to develop training programs for parents to aid them in securing resources for their children. Child, Family, and School Social Workers often find employment in a school setting and earn a median salary of $57,040.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Work
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Work provide thorough training in psycho-social assessment to support those with mental health issues or with issues in substance abuse. It is a critical area in the field of social work, which addresses one of today’s central social problems. Social workers who choose to specialize in the field are capable of developing individualized goals and plans to aid individuals, and families overcome these issues. The area requires the highest level of commitment and passion for serving. They provide counseling and resources, and often work with advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, or venture into private practice. In May 2019, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers received an average yearly salary of $46,650.
Social Work with Military Members and Veterans
Military and veterans are among the most vulnerable to trauma, and often experience difficulty in transitioning to civilian life. Social workers who specialize in military and veterans affairs support both active and inactive members of the armed forces cope with trauma, anxiety, and stress. It is a highly specific area of concentration that attracts many licensed social workers. They may find gainful employment within the Department of Defense as well as in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Aside from providing counseling, social workers in military service develop crisis intervention programs and research issues affecting servicemen. Social workers in the Veterans Health Administration receive an average annual salary of $71,754 in 2019.
Social Work Administration
A more hands-on specialization, Social Work Administration is involved in the managerial affairs. Social work administrators prepare budget plans, design and evaluate various programs implemented within the organization, monitor policy implementation, and manage strategies effected in the community or departments. They have a strong understanding of social policy, social services delivery, human behavior, and social issues. Competent social work administrators are firm decisionmakers and critical thinkers. They have access to a wide range of career opportunities and across industries. In 2019, the specialization reported an average yearly pay of $81,740.
Financing Your Social Work Education
Social workers are vital members of the community across the country. It is a noble profession that requires a unique academic background. The extensive education necessary for the profession often brings a financial burden to students. To help students and address this issue, both the public and private sectors run financial aid programs. These financial aid programs are supported by the Federal and State governments, as well as private sectors. Here are some grants geared towards helping Social Work students finance their studies.
- Federal Pell Grant is usually awarded to undergraduate students who are in dire need of financial support. To qualify, you must not have earned a bachelor’s or any graduate degree. The amount to be granted depends on the financial need, status of the student, and the total cost of the degree. Based on current data, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,345.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is available directly through the financial office at participating academic institutions. However, not all schools grant FSEOG. You must check the availability of the grant in your respective institution. Schools receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Eligible students receive between $100 and $4,000 per year, depending on their financial need.
- Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant is exclusive for resident students who are pursuing a degree in Community & Social Service Occupations. The amount awarded depends on the financial need and academic merit of each applicant. Grantees must agree to a term of employment in a participating agency or organization.
Online vs. Brick and Mortar Social Work Degrees
Remember that to qualify for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensure exam; you must be a holder of a bachelor’s degree in social work. You can earn BSW through online and on-campus degree programs. Regardless of the academic path you take, it is essential that the Social Work program has received accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education.
BSW online programs differ in curricula, tuition, and other fees, course offerings, and start date. Many online schools offer bachelors in social work through their distance learning program. Each of these schools allows their students to choose from various degree concentrations. An online degree typically consists of 120 credits of general education, primary and elective courses. Full-time students can finish the program within just two and four years. Completion depends on the academic track, whether asynchronous, self-paced or cohort-based program. Adopting a rigorous and extensive curriculum, courses may include social policy, human behavior and the social environment, social work methods, research methods, and social work history and contemporary issues.
FAQ: How can I earn a Doctor of Social Work degree through an online school program?
On the other hand, brick and mortar social work degree offers both a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Social Welfare. Bachelor of Science is not generally provided through distance learning programs. Both programs provide a solid foundational academic background and active, experiential training to prospective social workers. Required courses in traditional BSW curriculum include social work ethics, methods of social work research, and the required internship. The field placement internship is a unique course which requires a 16-hour hands-on training per week. This allows social work majors to apply theoretical knowledge into practical situations, a feature that is not readily available to BSW online programs.
Social Work Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook
Social Workers can practice at the micro, mezzo, or macro level. Micro-social work is focused on the individual and family levels. Macro-social work practice, on the other hand, centers on effecting change at the community level. Lastly, mezzo social work practice is focused on assessing and designing programs that cater to groups that fall within the individual and the community. These aspects of social work practice are interrelated areas that affect the overall well being of both the individual and the community.
- Clinical Social Worker
- Psychiatric Social Worker
- Child and Family Social Worker
- Social and Human Service Assistant
- Healthcare Social Worker
- Medical Social Worker
- Geriatric Social Worker
- Hospice Social Worker
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker
Mezzo Level Careers
- School Social Worker
- Community Social Worker
- Community Health Workers and Administrators
- Social and Community Service Manager
- Group Social Worker
- Health Educator
Macro Level Careers
- Public Policy Social Worker
- Administrative Social Worker
- Research Social Worker
- Environmental Health Workers and Administrators
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are four types of social workers – Child, family, and school, Healthcare, Mental health and substance abuse, and All other social workers. Regardless of the work environment, social workers are driven by the desire to realize positive change and approximate social justice in every community. In 2018, a total of 707,400 social workers were employed in the United States. And by the year 2026, this number shall significantly increase totaling to 790,000 social workers in the country. New jobs in the field shall increase by 16%, making 109,700 other jobs open for social workers.
10 Common Social Work Occupations
Social Work majors land a variety of jobs. Here are some of the most popular (and fulfilling!) careers you can choose to pursue:
- Social Work Teacher- Postsecondary
Education requirements: Most Social Work teachers or professors are required to hold a master’s degree in Social Work, a Ph.D. in Social Work, or a D.S.W.
Social Work Teacher- Postsecondary Salary: $72, 070 per year
- Veterans Affairs Social Worker
Educational Requirements: Social Workers may assist veterans with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Social Work. A Bachelor’s degree in Social Work may link individuals with resources, make referrals, and serve as a case manager for those with high needs. Graduate programs in Social Work may open more career opportunities for specialty coursework.
Veterans Affairs Social Worker Salary: $71,754 per year
- Healthcare Social Worker
Educational Requirements: In most cases, a master’s degree in Social Work is needed, but depending on the organization, some positions that only require a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. There are several certifications that you can earn for career advancement. These certifications are offered by the National Association of Social Workers such as Certified Social Work in Health Care certificate. This is given to those who have over two years of postmaster’s degree.
Healthcare Social Worker Salary: $58,570 per year
- School and Career Counselor
Education Requirements: Almost all states require school counselors to have a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field like psychology. Public school counselors are required to have credentials like license, certification, or an endorsement depending on the state.
School and Career Counselor Salary: $56,310 per year
- Medical Social Worker
Education requirements: Typically, aspiring medical Social Workers earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Psychology, or Sociology.
Medical Social Worker Salary: $50,700 per year
- Marriage and Family Therapist
Education Requirements: Marriage and family therapists are required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice. They must first earn a bachelor’s degree in any related field with programs relevant to human development, counseling, and research methods. A master’s degree in Psychology or Clinical Social Work is attractive to employers. It is to your advantage to complete a program accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Marriage and Family Therapist Salary: $54150 per year
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Education requirements: Although some Social Work jobs only need a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, licensed clinical Social Workers must earn a master’s degree in the same from an accredited school. You may still have to take additional coursework depending on the requirements set by your state.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Salary: $68,447 per year
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker
Education Requirements: To begin your career as a child, family, and school Social Worker, a bachelor’s degree in Social Work is required. Although a degree in Psychology or any related field may be acceptable, a license is important. To advance to the position, a master’s degree in Social Work is required, especially when there are more comprehensive tasks and responsibilities to handle.
Child, Family, and School Social Worker Salary: $52,540 per year
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor
Education Requirements: Most positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Social Work, but the requirements range from a high school diploma with certification to a master’s degree. Requirements vary depending upon the state. Some high school diploma holders get the job with supervision. Those who wish to be employed in private practice needs to have a license or a master’s degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling or Social Work.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor Salary: $44,630 per year
- Social and Human Service Assistant
Education Requirements: Requirements for social and human service assistants vary depending on the organization or state. Although typically, having at least a high school diploma and a brief period of on-the-job training are required, some employers look for certifications or an associate degree in human services, gerontology, social science or behavioral science.
Social and Human Service Assistant Salary: $66,959 per year
Other Social Work Occupation Titles
- Addictions Counselor
- Adolescent Specialist
- Adoption Specialist
- Assistant Director
- Behavior Strategist
- Behavioral Health Consultant
- Behavioral Health Counselor
- Behavioral Therapist
- Care Manager
- Cardiovascular Social Worker
- Case Manager
- Case Management Specialist
- Case Worker
- Child Advocate
- Children’s Service Specialist
- Clinical Director
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Clinical Supervisor
- Community Organizer
- Community Outreach Worker
- Community Support Specialist
- Crisis Counselor
- Director of Social Services
- Executive Director
- Family Advocate Representative
- Family Finding Specialist
- Family Intervention Specialist
- Family Therapist
- Foster Care Specialist
- Grant Writer
- Housing Resource Manager
- Intake Services Coordinator
- Intervention Coordinator
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Managing Director
- Medical Social Worker
- Mental Health Counselor
- Mental Health Specialist
- Mobile Therapist
- Multisystemic Therapist
- Outpatient Manager
- Outpatient Therapist
- Outpatient Unit Director
- Outreach Coordinator
- Patient Advocate
- Patient Navigator
- Prevention Specialist
- Primary Therapist
- Program Coordinator
- Program Director
- Program Evaluator
- Program Manager
- Program Supervisor
- Public Health Manager
- Quality Control Manager
- School Social Worker
- Service Coordinator
- Social Services Coordinator
- Social Services Director
- Social Worker
- Substance Abuse Counselor
- Team Leader
- Trauma Therapist
- Victim Advocate
- Volunteer Coordinator
- Youth and Family Specialist
30 Highest Paying Social Work Careers
Social Work promises lucrative career pathways! Here are 30 of your best options:
Corporate Social Responsibility Managers ensure that a company integrates Social Work into their corporate social responsibility tenet. Social Workers in these sectors allow the company to grow and build communities they can give back to. This creates a positive impact and leads to a stronger company reputation. Primarily, corporate social responsibility managers oversee the implementation of the organization’s CSR programs and goals. They have to develop engagement strategies, sustainability concepts, and philanthropic movements. Companies have now recognized the importance of CSR managers in communicating with the public about their values and how they operate.
Corporate Social Responsibility Managers Salary: $72,748 to $109,335 per year
Military Social Workers address the unique needs of military servicemen and servicewomen. They are trained to provide support to military members of the armed forces, their family, and spouses. Their clients go through psychological and emotional disorders due to addiction, domestic violence, anxiety, and depression brought about the war. They address these disorders by counseling, crisis intervention, and support from their families who are also active service members. They may be assigned to different types of armed forces such as the Air Force, the Army and in the Navy. Military Social Workers work at each branch of service centers.
Military Social Workers Salary: $50,000 to $75,000 per year
Social Science Research Assistants perform laboratory analysis, hold surveys, prepare findings in publication activities, and assists in data management. They work under the supervision of social scientists who go out and observe links between human behavior and socio-cultural aspects of a particular setting. These researchers and research assistants help Social Workers find alternatives and find improvement in the daily lives of their clients. Social Science Research Assistant do full-time and part-time work depending on their specialization.
Social Science Research Assistants Salary: $20,000 to $130,000 per year
Speech Pathologists work to assist patients who have difficulties or disabilities with speech and voice disorders. These may be congenital or caused by traumatic events. They assess, test, diagnose patients, and offer treatment plans that best suit them. It is necessary for them to coordinate with physicians, psychologists, and teachers to keep track of the progress and other issues that may come along with the process. Speech pathologists also attend to patients with cognitive impairment, swallowing disorders, motor issues of tongue and mouth, and auditory processing disorders. They also help parents and families of patients understand and educate on how to support the development of speech and language.
Speech Pathologists Salary: $62,933 to 87,311 per year
Social Work Teachers & Professors teach courses in Social Work. They ensure student engagement during classes, and that student learning collaborates with community activities. They have to be on location for the student’s field work and demonstration. Professors design curriculum, develop programs in Social Work concepts and head research topics in Social Work like poverty, child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, and more. Attending conferences and presenting research findings help their careers grow. They may belong to the Social Work department or Psychology academic division teaching students in Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate levels. They also provide consultation services, work together with colleagues and community agencies about teaching and research issues. Besides the schools or classroom, Social Work teachers/professors find themselves in their own private office, community field, community agencies, and healthcare facilities.
Social Work Teachers & Professors Salary: $78,965 to $138,405 per year
Public Policy Analysts study and analyze existing policies and how they affect future issues. While there are generalists, most public policy analysts choose to specialize in a particular field of area. Their goals include raising awareness of social programs and changes that needs to be implemented. Responsibilities of public policy analyst include research on political topics affecting society, evaluate how policies affect the public or individuals, write reports, and give presentations about political, economic, and social trends. The work of a public policy analyst significantly impacts Social Work by finding solutions to problems like crime, violence, hunger, and social discrimination. Analytical skills, communication skills, teamwork, and interpersonal skills are some of the qualifications one should possess in becoming a public policy analyst.
Public Policy Analyst Salary: $40,000 – $91,000 per year
Veterans Affairs Social Workers assist veterans with many concerns. Veterans who face life challenges like illness, disability, drug abuse, emotional problems, and alcohol problems need the help of a VA Social Worker. Counseling is also provided by a Veterans Affairs Social Worker to help veterans families cope with a terminal illness and give assistance to veterans who deal with legal issues on financial benefits, healthcare, and resources. Other social services offered by VA Social Workers are discharge planning, mental health preferences, long term case management planning, housing, and community living, and advance directives. The key is to coordinate with the veterans, their families, healthcare providers, and communities to educate, and address mental, behavioral, emotional issues.
Veterans Affairs Social Worker Salary: $41,376 to $90,496 per year
Social and Community Service Managers & Directors mainly manage Social Workers and oversee their organization’s service programs. The organizations that social community service managers work for focus on helping people with challenges in mental health, long-term unemployment, lack of medical care, dysfunctional families, or chronic hunger. These people may be homeless, adults, veterans, or even children. Some organization may designate a specific task or program to these managers and have them report to the upper management or administrators. They hire, recruit, train, and evaluate staff. Awareness of programs, target audience, and community, the impact of the programs and data analysis are some of the priorities the social and community service managers pay attention to.
Social and Community Service Managers & Directors Salary: $35,000 to 75,000 per year
School Counselors are typically individuals who are impressively patient. School counselors dedicate their time in listening to students concerns, especially in dealing with social and academic pressures, family problems, and behavioral issues. They help students succeed in school and even in making career decisions. Guidance lessons on topics such as drug use, bullying, mental health awareness, and self-development are delivered in the classroom and to the faculty and parents as well. School counselors duties depend on the level of students. There are elementary school counselors, middle school counselors, and high school counselors. School counselors work both in private and public schools. Most often, they are assigned with their own office and receiving area where conversations are held with the students. School counselors work full-time and have days off during summer.
School Counselor Salary: $38,000 to $73,000 per year
Medical Social Workers focus on the patient’s psychosocial and physical needs. They play an essential role in the healthcare team. Some doctors and nurses help and treat patients, but medical Social Workers help patients deal with other issues. They have to identify the psychosocial, financial, or emotional problems that the client is experiencing due to their health condition. They also arrange grief counseling, mental health services, and medical plans for the patient and the family. It is crucial that medical Social Workers help the patient and family members understand and adjust to hospital procedures, financial coverage, and treatment plan. They have to thoroughly explain about living arrangements, financial planning, in-home health care services, and follow-up treatments. They have to work closely with insurers to assess the client’s benefits. Medical Social Workers work in clinics, schools, hospitals, settlement houses, nursing care facilities, and in both public and private service agencies.
Medical Social Workers Salary: $42,000 to $72,000 per year
Geriatric Social Workers assess and identify the abilities and limitations of the elderly, and assist them accordingly. According to the Administration on Aging, the elderly population had risen to 325.7 million in 2017. The numbers are likely to increase in the future because of medical advances and improvements in the quality of life; therefore, life expectancy will continue to rise. The need for a geriatric Social Worker will also increase. The common problems of the elderly are mental disorders, emotional issues, health care needs, financial issues, and social issues. Duties like assisting clients in performing hygiene-related practices, arranging social gatherings, look for signs of physical abuse and neglect in the nursing homes or facilities where the elderly are admitted. Geriatric Social Workers are often employed in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement homes, community health centers, mental health clinics, and senior community centers.
Geriatric Social Worker Salary: $42,738 to $54,146 per year
Mental Health Social Workers provide support and resources to individuals with mental illness and those who don’t necessarily have a mental illness but can’t cope with life challenges or stressful life events. They hold individual or group counseling sessions and keep an eye on clients’ progress. Mental health workers may also arrange activities like individual and group therapy, client advocacy, case management, and crisis intervention. However, when mental illness is at most critical, they have to refer the clients to professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists. Mental health Social Workers work full-time in psychiatric hospitals, medical hospitals, health centers, and rehabilitation centers.
Mental health Social Workers Salary: $46,569 to $60,324 per year
Hospice Social Workers are certified medical Social Workers who have acquired training for end-of-life care. A particular example of this is a patient living with terminal conditions or stage of cancer. These Social Workers provide support, recommendations, and insights to patients and their family. Stress management techniques, medical care, and counseling are some of the services in this type of job. They have to see the patient and talk to them on a one-on-one basis and address the patient’s fears, anxiety, depression, and discomfort. Managing legal concerns may also be part of their job. They can be responsible for the patient’s wills, trust funds, estate, managing of pets, and being able to provide necessary details and actions to the family members about it. These types of Social Workers find themselves in their own office, hospitals, homecare or nursing facilities, government facilities, health care centers, and even in schools.
Hospice Social Workers Salary: $41,000 to $66,000 per year
Foster Care Social Workers are professionals who help children who were abused and with no homes to return to. They work for child welfare and social services institutions and are tasked to improve the social and psychological behavior of the child. After assessing the needs of the children, they perform background checks and interview potentially suitable parents or foster families. They are often asked to testify in court hearings to help determine whether or not the children should to their foster homes. They also help children get accustomed to their new homes, counsel families about child care, and evaluate their fostering situation. Foster care Social Workers find themselves in daycare agencies, foster care agencies, adoption agencies, and child welfare organizations.
Foster Care Social Worker Salary: $34,000 to $65,000 per year
Correctional Treatment Specialists work with a department’s probation and parole officers in providing services to convicted criminals. They give counseling, education, and even employment plans once the inmates get the chance to be released and be back into society. Anger management, sexual abuse, and drug abuse are some of the common topics addressed in counseling. They prepare documents and reports that are necessary for whether the inmate receives parole or probation. Most correctional treatment specialists work in prisons directly with inmates and at times work in parole or probation offices. Their counseling and treatment plans help prevent retrogression in inmates.
Correctional Treatment Specialists Salary: $53,360 per year
Grants Writers are responsible for writing the application process for grants that are allocated by government departments, foundation, and companies. Grant writers research and gather the essential information and documents required for the proposals. Most non-profit organizations heavily rely on various foundations and funding organizations. Therefore, grant writers have such an indispensable role in an organization’s ability to provide services, programs, and fund operations. Before developing a proposal, grant writers have to familiarize themselves with the organization’s goals and financial needs. They may also promote organizations through public relations work. Grant writing may be offered a part-time job and for freelancers who can work remotely.
Grant Writers Salary: $53,806 per year
Social Work Case Managers work with various institutions, agencies, and government facilities in handling case assignments, case progress, and case closure of clients. They are tasked to enhance the quality of client management, especially in assessing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating clients. They must possess high levels of experience and expertise to fulfill the satisfaction and needs of their clients successfully. Most case managers are associated or connected with the National Association of Social Workers, a nationally recognized Social Work organization. Case managers have a significant impact on the healthcare system as well the society. Through their work, early detection of child abuse, better healthcare experience for patients, and increase in client’s mental wellbeing are all attainable. Case managers are found in mental health clinics, schools, community development centers, hospitals, and private offices.
Social Work Case Managers Salary: $50,610 per year
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors help clients with disabilities. These clients need support in living fuller and independent lives. These counselors assist clients in gaining employment, managing personal and social effects of their disability. They have to collaborate and coordinate with the other members of the team that supports clients with disabilities. They also have to design a treatment plan with the help of doctors, therapists, and psychologists. Assessment of clients, evaluation of potential career or employment, counseling, and designing job plans are some of their responsibilities. Rehabilitation counselors do not only help people with physical disabilities but also include those who suffer from mental, emotional, and social disabilities. You can find them in rehabilitation centers, group homes, and counseling facilities.
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Salary: $50,363 per year
Marriage and Family Therapists are trained to assist couples and families cope with mental, emotional, and social issues within the context of marriage and family systems. These issues may include anxiety, marital problems, depression, and other psychological problems the couple is faced with. Therapists typically practice short-term sessions and treatment. These sessions must be attended and participated by the couple or the family as opposed to individual therapy. Marriage and family therapists can treat emotional and crisis issues such as divorce, adolescent drug abuse, obesity, or even the death of a family member. Many marriage and family therapists work in mental health centers, hospitals, and treatment centers.
Marriage and Family Therapists Salary: $50,090 per year
Adoption Counselors help birth parents and adoptive parents in the adoption process. Adoption should be handled well from the first stage. For some, it may pose a negative effect on the child being adopted, so it is necessary to seek the advice of professionals. Adoption counselors offer individual or group counseling sessions, conduct interviews, evaluate the psychological functioning of the adults, and assist in gathering medical records. When working with international adoption, counselors must be knowledgeable with adoption rules in the child’s country. They must know when to let adoptive parents or birth parents seek legal counsel, too. Providing emotional support to both birth and adoptive parents is essential in ensuring that the overall adoption process is done away from crisis and confusion.
Adoption Counselors Salary: $49,647 per year
Licensed Clinical Social Workers assist and provide social services to individuals or groups dealing with substance abuse, addiction, or mental health issues. They may choose from a wide range of specializations such as child, family, and school Social Work, medical and public health, mental health, and substance abuse. An LCSW may work in various private, public, and non-profit organizations, as well as social agencies, residential facilities, client’s home, office, and hospitals. A full-time clinical Social Worker may complete at least 40 hours a week and may work some evenings and weekends.
Licensed Social Worker Salary: $49,470 per year/$23.79 per hour
Clinical Coordinators oversee that all necessary and related resources are complete for organizing the daily activities of a healthcare facility. They also ensure that assessments are conducted, the progress of clients are documented, and that therapy is well-provided. Among their responsibilities, clinical coordinators communicate with clinical management teams, implement policy and procedure in the facility, and evaluate daily reports. They should exhibit knowledge of clinical, Federal ESRD, and administrative regulations. Generally, clinical coordinators work in hospitals, academic medical programs, and work are done indoors or in an office.
Clinical Coordinators Salary: $48,622 per year
Child, Family, and School Social Workers work with children or the youth, and their family, parents, and guardians. They help their clients cope with difficulties and issues, which include family relationships, physical abuse, disability, dysfunctional family, and life-threatening diseases. Coordinating with other available services for the clients is part of the assessment the Social Workers do. They may help organize adoptions, set up foster homes for orphans and abused children, and providing custody arrangements. They may also provide services to clients dealing with teenage pregnancy, drug dependency, and misbehavior. Welfare programs, counseling, and therapy are some of the standard services this type of Social Work offers.
Child, Family, and School Social Workers Salary: $48,430 per year
Community Program Administrators plan, direct, and coordinate a program or service of an organization. They oversee the community’s economic, social, and physical growth. Their responsibilities depend significantly on the type of organization they work for. Some of their duties include management of staff, manage program budget, and evaluate program success. Excellent managerial and communication skills are needed to be a thriving community program administrator. They also train staff and volunteers who work to solve problems like hunger, drug abuse, or domestic violence. The work environment may be at private offices, community centers, or government agencies.
Community Program Administrators Salary: $47,125 per year
Substance Abuse Counselors provide services to people suffering from addiction or alcoholism. It is their task to identify the causes of such addictive behavior by engaging with clients through discussions. They have a variety of clients, from teenagers to veterans. Every client is different; therefore, various interventions and lifestyle modifications are carefully constructed for each client. They have to regularly see and work with clients to develop skills and behaviors vital to recovery. Family members of clients must also be a part of the counselor’s intervention. They are expected to refer clients to other resources and support groups. They also help clients improve and identify the situations that may interfere with recovery. Their work environment includes private family services, residential care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, government facilities, and nursing care facilities.
Substance Abuse Counselors Salary: $44,630 per year
Community Health Advocates’ main goal is to ensure the safety and health of the community. They educate patients and other community members about all the aspects of ailments and treatments. If advocates believe the patient has been mistreated by a healthcare professional, then he/she will provide and take necessary actions to solve the issue. If patients have problems with health insurance policy, the advocates will do whatever it takes to assist them in overcoming barriers and inadequacy experienced. They also give healthcare seminars and forums on Emergency Services, effective management of chronic illnesses and social services the community may avail. Community health advocates may be found in community centers and government agencies. They work either full-time or part-time jobs, depending on the size of the organization.
Community Health Advocates Salary: $43,722 per year
Domestic Violence Prevention Advocates or simply violence advocates are hired and trained to offer emotional support and proper information to victims of domestic abuse. They interview victims and provide crisis management, especially to those who have been affected by drug or alcohol dependencies. These victims must be educated about crime, violence, and prevention. This is possible through the help of advocates. They devise safety planning, submit information for court criminal justice process, and help the victims move and find another shelter away from violence. These advocates may be part of a non-profit organization. You can also find them working in courts, prosecutor’s office, police stations, and justice court departments.
Domestic Violence Prevention Advocates Salary: $37,656 per year
Medical Discharge Planners help patients adapt to to their new environment after being discharged from the hospital or healthcare facility. Soon after, these Social Work specialists introduce the steps for recovery. Discharge planners may work as nurses or Social Workers. They work with the hospital staff, family members of the patient, and community to help reach their objectives of promoting long-term health. Some of the duties of medical discharge planners are an evaluation of the patient, discussion with the patient and family members, planning for in-home access treatment or transfer to another healthcare facility, referrals to home care agency and organizing follow-up tests for the patient.
Medical Discharge Planners Salary: $36,656 per year
Homeless Outreach Workers help the homeless or those with housing problems. They work for organizations who are the point of contact for the community it serves. These organizations may be governmental non-profit or private non-profit agencies. The challenge of their job comes in providing practical help and advice for the homeless for future occupancy. Homeless outreach workers are responsible for maintaining databases of services for the homeless, updating and providing information about vacancies, recruiting and training volunteers, organizing fundraising activities, and making referrals. In general, they promote wellness and safeguarding for homeless people, especially the children and those with disabilities. They either do office work for the organization or engage directly with homeless people.
Homeless Outreach Worker Salary: $34,536 per year
Social and Human Service Assistants provide additional support and assist other healthcare workers in delivering service to their clients. Their tasks include assessment of client’s eligibility for various healthcare insurance and benefits, explaining to clients the benefits offered and available to them, and ensuring that all clients’ needs are identified and met. Depending on their specialization, social and human service assistants may work for a licensed Social Worker, a doctor, nurse, therapist, or psychologist. The work profile of an assistant depends on their educational backgrounds. While a degree may not be necessary for this job, a bachelor’s degree will surely help you advance in your career. An assistant with a high school educational background may be assigned to paperwork while those with a college degree may be involved with counseling, coordinating, and research.
Social and Human Service Assistants Salary: $33,750 per year
Unique Social Work Careers
Did you know that not all Social Work career pathways are the same? While they share the same principles of the discipline and require the same skills as most other Social Work jobs, these positions are more interesting than the others. Some of these are career options that are not popular among Social Work degree holders.
Forensic Social Workers play a vital role in the psychological and behavioral aspect of those under the criminal justice system. This profession involves handling and working with offenders, especially those with mental health problems. There are various duties and responsibilities of forensic Social Workers. They provide consultation or training to paralegals, lawmakers, doctors, psychiatrists, law students, and correctional systems. They perform research and analysis on behavioral science and deal with rehabilitation, punishment, and prevention of crimes issues. You have to be a licensed Social Worker to gain this position.
Fertility Counselors make the process for both the intended parents and the gestational carrier involved in the fertility treatment. This significant medical step can be overwhelming, but thanks to fertility counselors, there is a systematic way of identifying the agenda and concerns, and shaping perspectives on fertility treatment. They provide consultation, counseling, and valuable guidance in setting the expectations and meeting the results. Fertility counselors are Social Workers with specialized skills and experience in reproductive health, infertility, and reproductive grief.
Pastoral Counselors are priests, pastors, rabbis, Imans, and ministers who go through psychological and social service training to provide therapy to their members who are in stressful situations. They perform a wide array of tasks, including religious mass, delivering ordinances, and draw shared religious beliefs with the patients. They may also be found at hospitals to provide ethical and spiritual counseling and guidance to the patients and their family members. Working closely with professional healthcare workers is an integral part of being a pastoral counselor. They have to coordinate with them since these counselors do not prescribe medicine or diagnose physical ailments. Pastoral counselors are employed in the hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, living centers, nursing homes, and correctional institutions.
Art Therapist work for the mental health field. They assist patients through the use of self-expression and incorporating it by art. Art therapy is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other behavioral problems. Art therapists work with children and adults of all ages, genders, groups, and cultures. They work for cases that have been referred by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other professional colleagues. Like any other social service, it is crucial for these therapists to keep records and maintain documented details of the therapy. They work in nursing homes, homeless shelters, mental health agencies, schools, domestic violence shelters, and medical clinics/ hospitals.
Hippo therapists use the natural gait and movement of the horse to provide motor and sensory input. As a form of physical, occupational, and speech treatment with the help of a horse, Hippotherapy is geared toward people with disabilities. The horse’s gait helps stimulate the pace at which the human walks. Therapists have to possess exceptional skill and experience in this type of intervention. They do fieldwork, but mostly, they are in their offices keeping a record of the therapies they conduct.
Travel Social Work Careers
If you enjoy flying and visiting other places as a Social Worker, you’re in luck! We’ve gathered some of the best career choices for Social Work majors who love the idea of exploring different places without sacrificing their practice.
International Social Workers takes their knowledge of domestic Social Work and combines it with foreign studies. They study other cultures and even learn their languages. It takes determination and humility to proceed with this career, as you will be assisting communities regardless of international boundaries. You may also find yourself working for either the government or private organizations with links to the United Nations network.
Travel Nurses perform general RN tasks. With an ASN degree at the minimum, travel nurses perform routine checkups, measure vital signs, conduct a physical assessment, and discuss treatments prescribed by the doctor. Overseas assignments typically last about one to two years. Since you will be working with a lot of mobility, you are expected to fill different roles and may not work within your specialty. Some of the areas with the highest need for nurses include Australia, New Zealand, China, and the Middle East. These are countries, which are prone to high rates of diseases and natural disasters, could use the skills of nurses who can provide critical care. There are many agencies you can reach out to for this job. They make travel arrangements, prepare your contracts, and set up housing and travel.
Visiting Nurses can be referred to as home care nurses. They meet patients in their homes, and some may need to travel far for work. Visiting nurses may incorporate the Social Work discipline into their job, especially for patient teaching and care coordination work that form essential components of homecare nursing. Visiting nurses educate the patient and family members, so they understand the treatment and the results to expect.
FAQ: What career and salary opportunities are available after graduation from my online school Doctor of Social Work degree program?
Nursing Schools, Degrees, and Rankings
Need more details? Check out our rankings featuring Nursing programs and schools:
Best Online Schools for Doctor in Social Work Programs
Top 20 Online Master’s of Social Work (MSW) Programs 2020
Accredited ONLINE Bachelor of Social Work Programs