Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Contributing Editor
The career outlook and salary for social work shows stability and employment growth as more jobs are open every year to social work professionals from all sectors. A career in social work can cover a broad range of occupations within various work settings. Any job that revolves around fixing social issues can be considered social work.
Social workers most often work with children and families, those with disabilities, substance abuse or criminal matters, or those receiving medical care. In addition, social workers work for government agencies, schools, police departments, and medical facilities.
What are the Required Education and Skills for Social Workers?
Those interested in a career in social work in any setting can get a degree focused on social work. Associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees are all options. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. Fieldwork positions usually need a bachelor’s or master’s degree and several supervised hours under a senior social worker.
Associate’s degrees typically open up only fundamental entry-level positions around office work and clerical tasks at a government. Therefore, entering the field with a bachelor’s degree is best.
Individuals can sometimes attain social worker positions without a degree in social work but in a similar field. For example, similar areas often include education, human services, criminal justice, or counseling. The appropriate degree, in this case, can vary depending on the location and type of services needed.
What Other Skills do Social Workers Need?
Employers are also looking for other skills, including a desire to help others and improve their lives and employment growth. Unsurprisingly, social skills and charisma are essential in conflict resolution and problem-solving.
Social workers often deal with challenging clients and situations and must handle both accordingly. They are not lawyers, but they should know about applicable laws and regulations. They hold strict regulatory practices and often appear in court for various cases.
Some Skills Include:
- social workers typically develop treatment programs
- advocate creating support groups
- assist with mental health emergencies
- help raise awareness about mental health
- assist community organizations
What are Common Social Work Career Settings?
Social workers work in various roles and at many different institutions. State institutes that handle abuse or foster care cases are prime employers of social workers. Unfortunately, these jobs are usually the lowest-paying options and not great with employment growth.
Social Workers in Schools
School districts are the next largest employer of social workers. School Social Workers often handle Special Education cases. They also work with children in State care to ensure they receive the necessary educational services. These social workers are often a bridge between a child’s home and academic life. They are also guidance counselors who assist youth with graduation, college entry, and also career goals.
Social Workers in Hospitals
Hospitals are the third largest employer of social workers. Each hospital has at least one social worker. These individuals help patients realize their care goals and help them with insurance paperwork and other tasks to complete their visit’s legal or clerical side.
In cases where long-term care or additional out-patients services are needed, the hospital social worker will help patients and families set up the critical care situation. They may provide information or contact various institutions or providers on the patient’s behalf.
What is the Career Outlook with an Advanced Degree?
Those with a doctorate degree in social work often graduate from fieldwork. Many work for government agencies as analysts or by universities as professors. These positions are often much more manageable than fieldwork and generally have higher pay. However, the demand for these positions is deficient compared to fieldwork.
Those with a doctorate level of education may find themselves frustratingly overqualified for fieldwork positions but unable to find a position on level with their education. The majority of social workers hold master’s degrees.
What is the Salary Range for Social Workers?
The pay for social work is neither poor nor excellent. The median annual salary in 2020 was $51,760. The salary range is from $33,020 to $85,820. The highest-paying positions are in the education system, mental health services, and hospital settings. A higher-level degree often results in higher pay, but not necessarily. Job outlook and salary are much more dependent on the employment location and the employing institution. Seniority also plays a significant role.
What are the Other Benefits of Social Work?
Social work positions are often very secure, considering the high turnover of most jobs. Although Social work is a demanding career choice, the Social Worker Job outlook and salary are great. Many social workers burn out after only a few years. However, those with good self-help and coping strategies in their everyday lives can last in the field and experience the many joys of helping people attain success and stability in their lives.
Most social work positions are full-time and come with the usual benefits. Senior social workers can also have flexible or self-directed schedules. They will usually choose when and how they attend to their caseload and will often be free to work independently of direct supervision.
What is the Future Job Outlook for a Social Worker?
The job outlook for social workers that hold a master’s of social work degree will continue to be a good one since master’s degree holders will continue to be in demand to provide healthcare, child welfare interventions, and mental health assessments and treatment. When it comes to social workers in specific fields, such as caseworkers in agencies whose jobs revolve around the paperwork side of the social work system. So, technology may decrease the number of jobs available.
Regarding social workers who work in areas such as child welfare, family and child services, substance abuse and addiction, community resources, and domestic violence, technology cannot replace their work. This means that the overall outlook for social workers with associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees will continue to be positive.
Is Social Work a Stable Career?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of social work is projected to grow overall by nine percent (9%) between 2021 and 2031. This means there will be an average of around 64,000 job openings each year as workers in the social work field retire or decide to change career paths.
An aging population means there will be an increased need for social workers in gerontology and geriatrics in the future. It also means that social workers throughout the entire field will have to adapt to meet the needs of various generations of aging Americans while helping immigrants assimilate into life in the United States and helping others support public health and keep their human rights.
Employment Opportunities for Social Workers
- substance abuse social workers
- school social workers to help with the everyday lives of students
- clinical social workers
- family social workers to treat mental health
- psychotherapy services social workers
- Working with health and substance abuse to treat mental health
- working with mental health and substance
- child family and school social workers to help with the stress in everyday lives
- working with a college or university program
- healthcare social workers
- working in child abuse cases in mental health emergencies
- Working in medical and surgical hospitals to help with everyday lives
What is the Highest Paid Social Worker?
Social workers assist other people with overcoming a multitude of different hardships and help them to lead more promising and fulfilling lives. While the field of social work brings with it an array of challenges, it is a dream job for many who want to enter into a helping profession. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly pay for social workers is around $50,390.
Social workers are responsible for assisting people to apply for food stamps, secure housing, locate counseling services for those affected by domestic violence or mental illness, counseling hospital patients that are diagnosed with chronic illnesses, help students in school settings and community resources to overcome special challenges that they face, and assisting social services to apply for grants and other funding to continue to help others in a variety of ways.
For a graduate with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in social work, the median salary can be as high as $65,000 per year, which is the high end of the scale. When it comes to substance abuse and mental health counselors in the social work field, they garner a median salary of about $49,000 per year (BLS). Healthcare social workers can secure a median salary of around $60,000 per year (BLS).