The career outlook and salary range show stability and 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.
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 in addition to several supervised hours under a senior social worker. Associate’s degrees typically open up only fundamental entry-level positions revolving around office work and clerical tasks at a government. Therefore, it is best to enter the field with a bachelor’s degree.
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.
Other Skills Social Workers Need
Employers are also looking for other skills, including a desire to help others and improve their lives. Unsurprisingly, social skills and charisma are essential in conflict resolution and problem-solving. Social workers often deal with challenging clients and situations, and they must handle both accordingly. Social workers are not lawyers, but they should have some working knowledge of applicable laws and regulations. They hold strict regulatory practices and will often appear in court for various cases.
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.
School districts are the next largest employer of social workers. School Social Workers often handle Special Education cases. They also work with children currently in State care to ensure they get 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.
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 very low 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.
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. Career outlook and salary are much more dependent on the employment location and the employing institution. Seniority also plays a significant role.
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 career outlook and salary are great. Many social workers burn out after only a few years. However, those with good self-help and coping strategies 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.