If you’re passionate about helping others and considering a degree that suits your interests, you might wonder what jobs you can get with a social work degree. Fortunately, this field has a wide range of career opportunities, allowing graduates at all education levels to work in various settings and positively impact individuals and communities. From mental health to child welfare to criminal justice, social workers play a crucial role in addressing social issues and supporting those in need.
Social Worker Occupations
There are many career opportunities for students who pursue a degree in social work, including roles in education, healthcare, or working with families and individuals on a case-by-case basis in clinical practice.
Careers in Education
Aspiring social workers who wish to pursue a career in education will need at least a master’s degree to enter the field. These graduates often seek careers as school social workers. As of May 2021, the median salary for a school social worker is $50,390. The demand for school social workers is expected to increase significantly within the next decade, with a projected 9 percent growth by 2031.
Graduate students pursuing their doctorate in social work may eventually work in education as a professor or post-secondary teacher. The median salary for these instructors was $79,640 in 2021, and the field is expected to grow by 12 percent within the next ten years.
Careers in Healthcare
Social work graduates seeking a career in healthcare can pursue various roles with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. For example, students with bachelor’s degrees can begin their careers as behavioral management or case management aides. Both occupations earn a median salary of $37,610 and are expected to grow 12 percent in the next ten years.
Students who graduate with their master’s degree can obtain medical or healthcare social workers positions. Depending on their place of work, medical and healthcare social workers see an average annual salary between $46,370 and $72,440. In addition, the demand for social workers in this field is expected to increase by 9 percent by 2031.
Lastly, those who earn a doctorate in social work often pursue roles as a psychologist. Psychologists who work as a part of a healthcare team earn a median salary of $81,040. The field is expected to grow 6 percent within the decade.
Careers in Clinical Practice
Students who wish to work individually with clients or patients might pursue careers as child and family social workers or licensed clinical social workers. Social workers in this field assess mental health disorders, diagnose them, and develop treatment plans based on their findings. They may also provide therapy to individuals and families to address mental health disorders and related issues. Both of these occupations require a master’s degree and see a median salary of $50,390. The field is expected to grow 9 percent in the next ten years.
In addition to social work jobs, a social work degree can also help you obtain employment in other community and social service occupations.
Health education specialist
Health education specialists promote healthy behaviors and prevent illness through education programs and campaigns. Individuals in this field develop health education materials, organize and lead workshops and classes, and evaluate the effectiveness of health education programs.
Health education specialists often work in hospitals, government agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations, and community health centers. Some may work in office settings, while others may work in the field or travel to different locations to conduct workshops or meetings.
The median annual wage for health education specialists is $60,600. The job outlook is positive, with a projected 12 percent growth from 2021 to 2031.
Probation officers work with individuals placed on probation by the court system. Their duties may include:
- Supervising probationers.
- Monitoring their compliance with court-ordered conditions.
- Conducting drug tests.
- Providing referrals to social services programs.
Probation officers may work in various settings, including probation offices, courthouses, and correctional facilities. Some may travel short distances to meet probationers in their homes or workplaces.
The median annual wage for probation officers is $60,250. The field is expected to show limited employment growth in the next ten years; however, about 8,000 job openings are projected annually over the next decade.
School counselors play an essential role in supporting student success and well-being at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and in college or university settings. School counselors offer academic guidance, provide emotional and mental health support, and help students navigate college applications. They may work in private or public schools and often collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to foster student development.
The median salary for school counselors is $60,510. The job outlook for school counselors is positive, with a projected 12 percent growth from 2021 to 2031.
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, or mental health counselor
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help individuals struggling with addiction, mental health disorders, or behavioral issues overcome their challenges and improve their quality of life. Their duties may include:
- Conducting assessments.
- Creating treatment plans.
- Providing individual or group therapy.
- Offering crisis intervention and support.
They may work in outpatient clinics, residential treatment centers, hospitals, and private practices.
The median salary for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors was $48,520 in 2021. Demand for counselors in this field is expected to grow 22 percent by 2031, making this field one of the fastest-growing occupations in the nation.
Which Social Work Job Is Right For You?
There are many career opportunities in social work, but deciding which career path is right for you can be challenging. Some key factors to consider when choosing a social work job include:
- Your interests: Social work, as a field, contains many areas. Consider which areas you’re most passionate about — healthcare, mental health, child welfare, criminal justice, or community development.
- Required education level: Consider the education and experience levels required to obtain a social work job that aligns with your skills and knowledge. Some social work positions require specific certifications, degrees, or licenses.
- Work environment: Think about the work environment you prefer. Do you want to work in a hospital, school, government agency, or community-based organization? Consider the size of your desired organization, the work schedule, and the culture.
- Desired pay: Compensation and benefits are essential to assess whether your future career can provide your desired lifestyle. Be sure to research salaries and benefits for different social work positions to ensure you are making a sound financial decision.
Professional growth opportunities: Beyond the education requirements, work environment, and salary expectations, it’s also important to consider the professional growth opportunities available in each career path. Are there opportunities for mentorship, career advancement, or continuing education?