Career prospects are excellent when you have a degree in social work. For true altruists at heart, social work is a very appealing field, and fortunately, even within this domain, the opportunities are many and varied.
Famous for its reputation as a personally satisfying and gratifying profession, the misconception that you have to compromise on pay, and other benefits, is also common.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that employment in social work was expected to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030, a rate higher than the average growth rate for other occupations.
While annual salaries are different depending on the type of job, the location, and the organization you are working at, the average yearly income is around $48,000.
This is a great career option for those in search of a people-centered profession; here, the main goal is to serve the at-risk and underprivileged people of the community. The general role familiar to all social workers is to help such people achieve their goals, contribute to society, get access to social services, and seek appropriate help.
When you have earned your social work degree, the following career options are some of the many fields you can pursue:
1. Mental health therapy and counseling
If you have an interest in psychology and mental health is your area of expertise, mental health counseling is an option you should certainly consider. Some counselors deal with mild cognitive disturbances like challenges coping with traumatic experiences like a loved one’s death.
Others treat more severe disorders like schizophrenia. Either way, most states mandate at least a master’s degree.
If you hope to complete your education while working part-time, you can consider getting a social work masters online degree. Mental health counseling requires a broad knowledge base because its clinical nature demands some knowledge about psychoactive medicine and its impacts.
As a mental health counselor, you must be aware of the additional resources available in your community that the patients can avail. Referral to other mental health professionals is also a part of the job description for a mental health counselor.
In this profession, you can expect an average salary of $46.991.
2. Professor of social work
If you are passionate about teaching and have a social work degree, you can seek a job at a university as a professor. While fieldwork is personally rewarding, and some claim to find true satisfaction only from this, an alternate option is to teach this as a course.
Over the next decade, the growth rate expected in teaching social work is around 15%.
As a professor of social work, your primary responsibilities would be teaching and research. There is often a greater emphasis on research and publication. If you are looking for a job in this field, most universities demand scholarships and state this in their standard requirement.
One major duty of a professor of social work is to stay up-to-date about the latest trends in research. To achieve this, the best strategy is to stay active in researching, writing, and publishing. As a faculty member, you would also contribute to designing and outlining the curriculum and dealing with the concerns of the university.
The average salary for a professor of social work approximates $84,919.
3. Medical social work
Social workers are also in demand in various medical settings like hospitals, clinics, and in-patient long-term care facilities. A medical social worker might work as a case manager, patient navigator, or therapist in these settings.
In this profession, you would play a role in the case of management, dealing with patients and their families directly throughout the treatment process. You will help patients and their families adjust to change, assess their emotional well-being, and provide assistance in treating mental health concerns.
Bereavement counseling is one of the major roles of a medical social worker working in hospital settings or long-term care facilities. To land a medical social worker job, you need a master’s in social work from an accredited university.
Here you can earn an average of $65,500 annually.
4. Rehabilitation social work
Elderly and disabled individuals often face serious challenges when attempting to regain some degree of normalcy, live fulfilling lives, and return to society.
The primary goal of rehabilitation or vocational social workers is to help such people get employment despite their injuries, mental illnesses, or disabilities. A rehabilitation social worker is hired in various settings, including in-patient rehabilitation centers.
As a rehabilitation social worker, you would help screen patients and their families, advocate for them, train them in post-hospital care, support them in decision-making about their futures, and recommend career options. The aim is to help these individuals gain a sense of independence and empowerment despite their shortcomings.
Patients that rehabilitation social workers deal with may have physical or mental illnesses. After assessing their skills and abilities and considering their limitations, they recommend and train them for certain suitable professions.
A rehabilitation social worker can earn between $35,950 and $63,790 annually.
5. Social work supervision
If you are confident in your leadership skills and believe yourself more suitable for the administrative role, social work supervision is the career choice you should go for. A social work supervisor is in the position of assisting – administrative, supportive, and clinical –junior social workers.
Social work supervisors have the experience and qualification that it needs to be able to guide others. Supervisors assist social workers who are still in training to grow and learn. In education or clinical social work supervision, for instance, you coordinate with a supervisee one-on-one and assist them in dealing with specific cases.
As a supervisor in such a setting, you will help your supervisee determine the best course of action for the client, evaluate the alternatives, consider the potential impacts, etc. For this job, you should be able to provide constructive criticism, lead and direct, and build a supervisory relationship on trust, support, confidentiality, respect, and safety.
A social work supervisor’s income varies considerably depending on the type of supervision and setting. On average, you can expect an annual salary of $47,980.
If social work is your passion, get a degree, which will open doors to numerous professions. With the right qualifications and experience, you can land reputable jobs as a mental health counselor, professor, medical social worker, rehabilitation social worker, social work supervisor, and more.
The opportunities in this field are many and diverse so you will certainly find a job that fits your personality. Look into your interest and search for a job that meets your requirements.