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Social Worker


Very few of us are lucky enough to have been raised by stable, patient parents, with picket fences hemming in perfect birthday parties, home-cooked dinners, and joyful summer holidays filled with barbecues, potato sack races, and camping trips. Most families have problems, and if those problems go untreated, they will slowly take over, doing severe damage to children, families, and individuals.

Luckily, social workers involve themselves in those lives. They recognize that very few people have had an ideal life, and work to help those people change, adjust, and make something good and positive emerge from a troubled and difficult past. Social work can happen in a number of different ways, on many levels. Through their work with government agencies, hospitals, group homes, school boards, correctional facilities, and private practices, these hard working people can have a profound impact on those in need. Depending on their training and area of interest, social workers provide assistance through group, individual, and family counseling and therapy, or by evaluating child development and the adequacy of child care, investigating reports of child or spousal abuse, assessing situations and recommending things like legal aid, mental heath assessments, and financial assistance programs.

Social workers are also social activists. They are continually at the forefront of many issues regarding poverty, homelessness, and the rights of women and children. They act as advocates for their clients, the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society who are hit the hardest when governments make cuts to social programs, welfare programs, and healthcare. Social workers organize protests, petitions, and alert the media and the public when the people they work so hard to help are at risk of falling back into old patterns due to an absence of funding and support. They work with governments when new policy is being discussed, they conduct social research, and meet with developers, business people, and politicians, looking for ways for the private and public sectors to work together to protect and help their clients.

Social work is not an easy job. Each facet, from placing children in foster care to helping an elderly Alzheimer's patient adjust to a care facility, brings its own challenges and rewards.
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Walden University
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
Programs Offered:
  • Ph.D. in Social Work - Medical Social Work
  • Master of Social Work - Addictions
  • Ph.D. in Social Work - Social Work Administration
  • And more...



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career in social work? Social workers must be mature, patient, sensitive and non-judgmental, as well as resourceful, emotionally stable, and flexible when it comes to hours, workplace, and client behavior. These individuals have a genuine desire to help all people, and be willing to come up with creative, innovative solutions for each individual client. They have an interest in activism, and are articulate, as they are often speaking on behalf of marginalized people.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interview clients individually, in families or in groups to determine the types of services they need
  • Investigate cases of child abuse or neglect, take authorized protective action
  • Assist mentally ill clients to find housing and employment
  • Help troubled youth find appropriate education facilities
  • Organize protests and rallies to fight for social causes
  • Petition governments for funds
  • Write reports about daily activities and initiatives taken
  • There is no typical day for a social worker. This is because there are so many areas of social work with many kinds of clients. Each day brings new clients with new challenges to overcome, and each social worker will spend part of each day assessing, sympathizing, listening, advising, and analyzing children, adults, families, and situations, looking for the best solutions to the problems. They will spend time with clients in offices, writing reports and analyzing assessments, but they may also need to travel, meeting with clients in their homes or correctional facility, to meeting with other social service workers in their offices or agencies, or to community centers to host seminars and workshops. They work long hours, and often are on call weekends, evenings, and holidays.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Social workers find themselves in a number of work environments. Depending on their area of expertise and interest, a social worker might be employed in the public or private sector, working as a member of a health care team in a hospitals or a mental health clinic, in a correctional facility, within a school board system providing counseling to students and teachers, in shelters, group homes, or social assistance offices.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Depending on one's area of expertise, an individual may choose to obtain a master's or a doctoral degree in social work, allowing them to supervise or teach in the field. With additional education and training social workers may move into specialized areas in nursing or psychology.

  Educational Paths  
Becoming a social worker requires a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Many employers may even require individuals to hold a Master of Social Work and social workers wishing to advance to senior positions will often need this level of education. In addition to the educational requirements, some regions may require individuals pass an examination to achieve professional certification.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Walden University
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
Programs Offered:
  • Ph.D. in Social Work - Medical Social Work
  • Master of Social Work - Addictions
  • Ph.D. in Social Work - Social Work Administration
  • And more...

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Science: Social Work
  • MA Human Services: Military Resilience
  • MA Human Services: Christian Ministry
  • And more...

University of Southern California - DSW

The University of Southern California Doctor of Social Work (DSW) online program is designed for experienced practitioners to harness innovative solutions to solve real-world problems.

Unlike a PhD in social work, which prepares scholars for careers in research and the professoriate, the DSW@USC is an online advanced practice degree program for working professionals who want to have a greater impact in their practice.

Programs Offered:
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Sacred Heart University - Online

Sacred Heart University offer signature humanistic core principles and degree programs offering interactive learning, personal attention, small classes, and rigorous academics.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Social Work - Community Specialization
  • Master of Social Work - Clinical Specialization

Ashford University

Technology changes everything®

You’ve found Ashford University, where school comes to you

Programs Offered:
  • BA/Social Science - No Concentration
  • BA/Applied Behavioral Science
  • BS Human Services Leadership
  • And more...

Winthrop University

Winthrop University is a public, comprehensive university located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Social Work

Ohio Christian University
Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.
Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Services

Argosy University

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs Offered:
  • Counseling Psychology (EdD)

Saint Marys University of Minnesota

At Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, we take pride in offering online graduate degrees designed to complement the schedules of working adults like you.

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Arts in Health & Human Services Administration

New England College

Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey.From Application to Graduation, the Guidance You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

Programs Offered:
  • AS in Human Services
  • BS in Human Services
  • BA in Psychology/Human Services

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