dcsimg

Social workers strive every day to help other people in need. Social work has many variations and specializations, but all social workers draw on their education in psychology, interpersonal skills and the law to help people through challenging situations. These professionals are trained to help individuals recover from abuse, addiction and family dysfunction. They connect people with government agencies and resources. They educate communities on health and public policies, and advocate for people in court or government proceedings. While social workers' caseloads can be heavy and the situations they encounter are often heartbreaking, most find tremendous satisfaction in their work.

Day in the Life of a Social Worker

Social work is a broad field with many specializations, but there are some activities and tasks that are common to all social workers. On a typical day, a social worker will help clients identify and work through their problems, while offering them solutions and resources; create service plans and action steps; complete reports and keep track of case histories; and respond to clients' crises.

There are many career specializations and workplace settings for social workers. Here is a sampling:

  • Children, families and schools. Social workers might work with government agencies to assist and protect children, single parents, foster families, adopted children and families in crisis. In schools, social workers work closely with parents and teachers to enable children facing challenges to better reach their full potential.
  • Mental health and substance abuse. Social workers who serve this population provide support such as one-on-one counseling, group therapy, crisis intervention and residential rehabilitation.
  • Medical and public health. Social workers support patients and families in difficult medical situations. They may help people with disabilities as well as those who are seriously injured, chronically ill or terminally ill.
  • Administration, research and planning. These social workers create the policies, conduct the research and provide the guidance needed to reach more people through new and established social programs.

For some of the above scenarios, a social worker must have specific social work education and training. Certification is often required to qualify for some of the above-mentioned employment situations.

Important Characteristics for a Social Worker

What kind of person can become a successful social worker? Helpful traits include empathy, patience and dedication. Natural skill in conflict management and problem-solving can be strengthened with training and are critical in this profession. Social workers often manage rapidly changing situations and unexpected challenges, so it is important to remain flexible and "think on one's feet." Other key characteristics are a sense of humor, a thick skin, and the ability to work independently.

Typical Steps for Becoming a Social Worker

The path and education requirements for becoming a social worker — from the first steps to advanced and optional stages — are as follows:

  1. Earn a bachelor's degree in social work. First, check with the Council of Social Work Education to make sure the program you are considering is accredited. You will be required to do both coursework and a minimum number of hours (usually 400 for accredited programs) of supervised experience in the field.
        Tip: Find out what your state's licensing rules are before you commit to a degree program (see Step 2).
  2. Become licensed to practice social work in your state. Most states require two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience for a license to work as a clinical social worker. Check with the Association of Social Work Boards regarding the licensing and testing procedures for your state.
  3. Consider becoming certified by the National Association of Social Workers and the Center for Clinical Social Work. While not usually required for employment, national certification demonstrates a level of commitment and competency that could give you a competitive edge in the job market.
  4. Take your career to the next level by earning a master's in social work or a doctoral degree. If, after being a social worker for awhile, you plan to go into private practice, work in schools or do clinical work, you will need an advanced degree. A graduate degree can also help you explore specialties such as mental health, public health or substance abuse. The Council of Social Work Education can tell you if the master's degree program you are considering is accredited. Doctoral education should be accredited through the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work.

Sources:

  • Social Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
  • Summary Report for Social Workers, O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1029.00

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Social Worker Education Overview and Career Guide

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Social Worker Education Overview and Career Guide jobs , as of 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 2,180 $66,950
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1,540 $74,650
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario 1,500 $65,650
San Juan-Carolina-Caguas 1,230 $33,050
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 930 $56,230
Columbia 880 $44,840
Visalia-Porterville 840 $47,480
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade 790 $73,370
Rochester 660 $55,620
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 650 $56,380

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Social Workers

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Employment
Salary

Total employment and salary for professions similar to social workers

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Social Worker Education Overview and Career Guide

To find out more about building a career as Social Workers, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Social Worker Education Overview and Career Guide

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 33,550 49% $53,560
Social Service 15,850 23% $35,460
Hospital 4,800 7% $55,190
Nursing And Residential Care 4,040 5% $37,590
Medical Office 2,460 3% $40,440
Non-profit 2,320 3% $36,290
Education 1,990 2% $48,720
Business Management 1,000 1% $40,500
Professional And Technical Services 870 1% $38,410
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.
 
Results:  10
Matching School Ads
Programs
  • Master of Social Work - Community Specialization
  • Master of Social Work - Clinical Specialization
  • SJU provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts
  • A Jesuit school with 8,415 students in all programs for 2016 grads &undergrads
  • Institutionally Accredited by the MSCHE and the AACSB (Haub School of Business)
  • 96% of 2016 graduates employed, pursuing graduate study or volunteering full time
  • Qualifying students can receive financial assistance with tuition costs
Programs
  • Online Master of Social Work
  • Ranked one of the Top Public Schools in 2017 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Founded in 1766 as a public institution; it has a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey and offers many programs online.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate of 91.8%.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 14:1, and 38% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has famous alumni including chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, author Junot Diaz, actor James Gandolfini, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
Programs
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree
  • Offers students a variety of degrees & programs to help them explore their passion
  • Online programs & 3 campuses in San Antonio, Houston, & Rio Grande Valley, TX
  • A Catholic Education at OLLU is shaped by their unique belief in God’s Providence
  • #1 in San Antonio, Highest Percentage of Classes Under 20 by US News & World Report
  • 95% of 2016 incoming OLLU freshmen received scholarships or aid
Programs
  • Master of Social Work - Macro
  • Master of Social Work - Clinical
  • Master of Social Work
Advance your career with a master's degree in social work from Boston University. Our programs include concentrations in clinical or macro social work.
Programs
  • Master of Social Work
  • Earn a Master of Social Work online from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.
  • The CSWE-accredited program features live, online classes and hands-on field experiences near your community.
  • Bachelor's degree is required to apply
Programs
  • Bachelor of Science: Social Work
  • MA Human Services: Military Resilience
  • MA Human Services: Christian Ministry
  • Liberty University’s online programs ranked in the top 10 out of more than 2,100 colleges & universities for academic quality, affordability, and accessibility.*
  • 100% online programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.**
  • Transfer up to 90 credits into an undergraduate degree program.
  • Up to 50% of your master’s degree can be transferred in to help you get the most out of your hard work and maximize the credit you previously earned.
Programs
  • Masters of Social Work
  • Hybrid Dual Master of Social Work/Master of Education, Human Sexuality Studies
  • Teaches academic excellence, career preparation, & civic engagement for success
  • More than 40 undergraduate majors and 50 minors, including top-ranked programs
  • In a recent survey, 90% of seniors rated overall experience as excellent or good
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education w/110 acre campus near Philadelphia
  • Military Friendly School in the top 20 % helping military families, Victory Media
Programs
  • BA in Health and Human Services
  • BA in Health and Human Services - Health Care Informatics Systems Specialization
  • BA in Health and Human Services - Long-Term Care Specialization
  • Earn your degree online from Ashford University!
  • Choose from Undergraduate and Graduate classes
  • Business, Health Care, Psychology and Liberal Arts programs to choose from
  • Apply Now! Classes begin every Tuesday!
Programs
  • M.S. in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders
  • Graduate Certificate of Completion in Life Coaching
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities and social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
Programs
  • Human Services (MS)
  • Counseling Psychology (EdD)
  • Counseling Psychology (MA)
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
camnpus icon
Orange
Request Info

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Social Worker Education Overview and Career Guide.

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

Back to Top
ing Ads',adBlockerCheckFlag,undefined,undefined,true]); }