Top Social Work Careers

Resources on this page

Discover Popular Social Work Careers

Targeting a particular population or issue during your social work education can help you get practicums that jump start your career.

Children and Families Concentration

Find out what training and skills are necessary to become a children and family social worker.

Mental Health Concentration

Work with people to overcome mental health issues and histories of substance abuse as a mental health social worker.

Healthcare Social Work

Focus on advocating for patients and their families as a social worker in a health care setting.

Understand the Role of Social Workers in Shaping Communities

Social workers help people who are affected by social problems. What constitutes a social problem is difficult to define, because the term includes any issue that affects society at large. Dramatic examples of social problems include homicide, drug abuse, and domestic violence. Other social problems are poverty and mental illness. Social workers help individuals experiencing social problems to function in their communities despite dealing with these types of social problems.

Discover Popular Social Work Careers

You can focus your social work studies in concentrations like children and families, education, mental health, and healthcare. And because social work is conducive to transitioning between specializations, don’t be afraid to choose a specialization early in order to begin practicum experiences and increase your chances of securing employment following graduation.

Check out the most popular social work careers outlined below, along with their educational requirements.

Children and Families Concentration

This concentration focuses on the emotional, physical, social, and behavioral growth and development of children, teens, and the family unit as a whole.

Child and Family Social Worker

  • Projected national job growth: 20%-28%
  • Average Salary: $40,680
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Job description: Child and family social workers provide various social services to improve the social growth and development of children and their families. They also work with foster children, arrange adoption services, and provide counseling to abused or neglected children.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose child and family social work if you enjoy working with youth and their families. In order to succeed in this specialization, you should have excellent verbal communication and listening skills. Additionally, you should be able to handle sensitive information and be able to work with clients of all backgrounds. If you choose this career path, you can expect to work in a clinical setting and possibly in the field, visiting children and their families in their homes.

Marriage and Family Therapist

  • Projected national job growth: 29%
  • Average Salary: $46,240
  • Entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Job description: Marriage and family therapists provide counseling services and diagnose and treat social, emotional, or behavioral disorders that affect a marriage or family unit.
  • Why would I want to do this? Pursue the marriage and family therapy if you enjoy working with people, especially couples and families. You should be naturally empathetic and have exceptional verbal communication and listening skills, as you will have to identify the needs of all members within the family system or relationship. As a marriage and family therapist, you can expect to develop treatment plans that address issues within the various familial relationships.

Education Concentration

This concentration focuses on the social services that are provided to students in a school environment.

School Social Worker

  • Projected national job growth: 20%-28%
  • Average Salary: $40,680
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Job description: School social workers provide social services to students to promote and improve academic achievement. They also work with students who seek attention for various social problems and concerns, such as teenage pregnancy, abuse, and misbehavior.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a school social worker if you would enjoy working with youth of all ages in an educational setting. It is vital for school social workers to have excellent problem-solving skills and the ability to communicate effectively with students, teachers, and parents. If you pursue this profession, you can expect to work with students to improve their social behavior and development in the school environment.

School and Career Counselor

  • Projected national job growth: 19%
  • Average Salary: $53,380
  • Entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Job description: School and career counselors help students develop and refine their social skills enabling them to succeed in the classroom and beyond. They also help educate and prepare students for college and the professional work environment.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose school and career counseling if you enjoy working with students and helping them achieve their academic goals in preparation for further education or a career. You must be an excellent communicator and enjoy working with students, especially those at the high school and college levels. In this profession, you can expect to provide social services and resources to students who seek assistance reaching their learning or career goals.

Mental Health Concentration

The mental health social work concentration focuses on the assessment, intervention, and treatment of individuals, families, and groups who seek counseling services for various mental or behavioral problems.

Mental Health Counselor

  • Projected national job growth: 29%
  • Average Salary: $39,190
  • Entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Job description: Mental health counselors provide therapeutic treatment to patients who suffer from various mental health conditions or disorders.
  • Why would I want to do this? Pursue this profession if you are interested in helping those who suffer from various mental health conditions. Mental health counselors should have excellent listening skills and be able to effectively communicate with clients whose communication skills may be hindered by mental illness. In this profession, you can expect to work in a clinical or hospital setting, providing counseling and treatment services to people of all ages and demographics.

Behavioral Disorder Counselor

  • Projected national job growth: 27%
  • Average Salary: $38,120
  • Entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Job description: Behavioral disorder counselors provide treatment to individuals who suffer from various behavioral disorders.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a behavioral disorder counselor if you enjoy helping people understand and cope with various behavioral disorders, such as eating disorders and addictions. Pursue this occupation if you are a patient listener and want to provide counseling services to clients who seek help in managing and overcoming behavior problems. You can expect to spend your day working directly with clients, taking clinical notes, and developing behavioral treatment plans.

Substance Abuse Social Worker

  • Projected national job growth: 29%
  • Average Salary: $39,230
  • Entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Job description: Substance abuse social workers assess and provide treatment to individuals who suffer from addiction, such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a substance abuse social worker if you enjoy helping others overcome their addictions. You should have excellent interpersonal skills and patience to coach clients through the entire process of substance abuse treatment and prevention. You can expect to work in a clinical setting with individuals who suffer from a variety of substance abuse problems.

Healthcare Social Work

The healthcare social work concentration is focused on serving individuals in a healthcare setting by providing advocacy and support to patients and their families.

Healthcare Social Worker

  • Projected national job growth: 29%
  • Average Salary: $48,620
  • Entry-level education: Master’s degree
  • Job description: Healthcare social workers provide psychosocial support to patients and their families who are facing various chronic, acute, and terminal illnesses or conditions.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a healthcare social worker if you find pleasure in providing support and counseling services to ill patients and their family members. You should be able to handle difficult end-of-life situations and listen effectively to patients’ needs and concerns. Healthcare social workers can expect to work in a hospital or other medical environment with a variety of populations.

Patient Representative

  • Projected national job growth: 10%-19%
  • Average Salary: $30,610
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Job description: Patient representatives assist patients and their families as they make decisions pertaining to their healthcare needs.
  • Why would I want to do this? Choose to become a patient representative if you enjoy helping patients understand what healthcare options are available to them and counseling them throughout their treatment. You should have superior communication skills and the ability to multitask, as you will constantly communicate with patients, their family members, and various doctors and other healthcare workers. Patient representatives can expect to spend their day working with patients in a hospital setting.

Explore Top Job Sites for Social Work

Use the resources we’ve collected for you below to find social work jobs in your area. This list of jobs resources will help you get started on your way to landing your first, or your next, career opportunity.

Careers.CSWE.orgAvailable through the Counsel on Social Work Education (CSWE), Careers.CSWE.org is a free social work job search engine. This site also allows you to create an account, set up job alerts, post your resumé, and explore different career options in the social work field.

Careers.SocialWorkers.orgCareers.SocialWorkers.org is a social work job search engine powered by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). You can explore social work job openings and learn about different career opportunities and professional development through this site.

SocialService.comSocialService.com is a free search engine tool for social service jobs. You can search careers without creating an account, or you can set up an account to receive job notifications directly to your e-mail account. You may also upload your resumé for potential employers to view.

SocialWork.comSocialWork.com is a free tool for social work job seekers. In addition to the search engine tool, job seekers can take a career test, explore tips on landing the right job, and pore through the site’s Job Seeker Toolkit.

SocialWorkJobBank.comSocialWorkJobBank.com lets you search for a variety of social work jobs by location or job type. This site also allows you to upload a resumé and set up job alerts for careers that meet your area of interest.

SocialWorkJobSearch.comSocialWorkJobSearch.com is a free tool for job seekers in the field of social work. You can search for job openings based on location, specialty area, or keyword.