Careers in Social Work
By Rachel Schneider
The social work field includes multiple career options, depending on your social work degree and your personal career goals and interests. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for social workers to grow 11% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Many individuals choose a social work career based on the people they want to help and the work environment they prefer. Read on to explore some possible social work career paths, including some of the highest-paying social work jobs.
Table of Contents
- Types of Social Workers
- What Does a Social Worker Do?
- Entry-Level Careers in Social Work
- High-Paying Careers in Social Work
- Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Social Workers
Social work career paths look different depending on the type of social work professionals want to conduct. In practical settings, social work features three different categories: micro, mezzo, and macro.
Micro social work is widely considered the most popular type of social work. Professionals focused on this level provide direct service to families and individuals. Mezzo social work falls right in between micro and macro levels. Social workers at this level typically work with smaller groups or institutions. Macro social work focuses on large-scale social work, honing in on careers that allow professionals to work with communities rather than individuals.
Professionals should consider the scope of practice that intrigues them most, noting the population they want to serve when determining what level of social work to pursue.
What Does a Social Worker Do?
Social workers focus on helping their clients cope with and solve problems in their daily lives. Social work jobs cover a variety of specialization areas, such as clinical, school, and healthcare social work roles. Professionals dedicate their careers to helping people handle the unique challenges in their lives.
Social workers emphasize advocacy, spending much of their careers raising awareness with, and on behalf of, their clients at local, state, and national levels. These professionals assist in a variety of situations, including terminal illness diagnoses, child abuse situations, and adoption.
Where Do Social Workers Work?
Social work careers can encompass a variety of disciplines and workplace settings. Some of the most common settings include human services-related organizations and healthcare facilities. Many social workers focus on providing their services through private practices. Some might work in schools or visit their clients' homes.
Entry-Level Careers in Social Work
High-Paying Careers in Social Work
Frequently Asked Questions
Is social work a good career?
The social work career path allows professionals to focus on a variety of specialization areas, such as healthcare, school social work, child and family social work, and clinical social work.
How much does a social worker make?
BLS reports that social workers earned a median annual salary of $49,470 in 2018. Salary varies depending on specialization, setting, and experience level. Healthcare social workers enjoy annual median wages of $56,200, while child, family, and school social workers experience annual median wages of $46,270. Mental health and substance abuse social workers experience annual median wages of $44,840 and all other social workers enjoy wages of $63,140.
What qualifications do you need to become a social worker?
While some social workers only need a bachelor's degree, most states require clinical social workers to complete a master's degree in social work and satisfy two years of supervised clinical experience after earning their degree. Candidates must then obtain licensure, meeting their state's specific requirements.
Is a career in social work right for me?
The social work field allows professionals to focus on a variety of focus areas, all dedicated to helping others. Social workers should be compassionate, critical thinkers with excellent communication skills.