Social service managers plan and organize the activities of a social service program or community outreach organization. They manage the budget and oversee aspects of the program such as participant involvement, benefits and program requirements. Some may supervise social workers, probation officers or counselors.


  • Coordinate with other agencies
  • Evaluate the performance of employees
  • Create and oversee administrative procedures
  • Implement staff training programs
  • Document all services provided and prepare reports
  • Complete new client assessments in order to develop a plan
  • Provide information and referrals for appropriate services
  • Attend interagency case management meetings
  • Provide crisis intervention when necessary

Job Characteristics

Social service managers need good communication and organization skills. Compassion, patience and a desire to help other people are important aspects of the job.

Employment Outlook

In 2007 the median annual earnings for social service managers was $54,530. In 2006 their were approximately 130,000 jobs in the profession. From 2006 to 2016 the employment growth rate is projected to be much faster than the average for all occupations. The expected rise in employment is primarily due to the projected increase in demand for social services such as public welfare, child protective services and family services.

The need for assistance will also increase due to the growing elderly population. In addition, many employers are increasingly relying on social services assistants. The number of jobs in public and private social services agencies can fluctuate based on need and government funding levels.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. Master's degree programs offer the knowledge and skills required to perform clinical assessments, manage large caseloads, supervise a department and utilize social services to meet the needs of clients. Typically the master's degree programs are completed in two years and include at least 900 hours of supervised field training or participation in an internship. Part-time programs may take four years to complete. Some colleges offer master's degrees in social services policy or administration.

Usually master's degree programs do not require a bachelor's degree in social work. However, most master's degree programs provide advanced standing for those that have a bachelor's degree from an accredited social work program. For those without a bachelor's degree in social work, classes in subjects such as sociology, psychology, social work, biology, political science and economics are recommended. Also, learning a second language can be helpful.

Manager and supervisory positions for social services agencies or departments typically require an advanced degree and related work experience. Those with a bachelor's degree in the subject are prepared for direct service positions such as a caseworker.

All the states have licensing, certification or registration requirements for social work practice and for the use of professional titles. The standards for licensing vary by state. Those with a master's degree in social work and have experience may be eligible for a credential from the Academy of Certified Social Workers or the Qualified Clinical Social Worker credential.


Major Employers

The primary employers are state and local governments.

Schools for Social Service Managers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Social Service Managers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be social service managers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Service Orientation44
Social Perceptiveness44.62
Active Learning3.883.88
Active Listening3.884.25
Complex Problem Solving3.884.12

Social Service Managers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be social service managers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Customer and Personal Service4.615.94
Administration and Management4.374.6
English Language4.294.52
Education and Training3.925.25

Social Service Managers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being social service managers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.655.2
Getting Information4.484.62
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work4.285.39
Interacting With Computers4.233.75
Performing Administrative Activities4.154.05

Social Service Managers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being social service managers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Social Service Managers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Social Service Managers jobs , as of 2018

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell1,970 $74,090
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson1,790 $79,200
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn1,760 $76,790
Pittsburgh1,520 $66,100
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale1,460 $66,160
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach1,300 $75,670
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington1,280 $77,320
Columbus1,280 $84,060
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario1,260 $74,250
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin1,000 $74,540

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Social Service Managers

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to social service managers

Source : 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Social Service Managers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.