Case Worker: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for case workers. Get the facts about the education, training and licensure requirements, job outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Case Worker?

Case workers, also known as social workers, help clients struggling with issues such as addiction, disability and mental health disorders. They are responsible for providing counseling and psychotherapy for clients dealing with crisis situations. They are also imperative for referring these clients to resources that may improve their conditions, such as healthcare or food stamps. The following table provides detailed information for this career.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree (recommended for licensure)
Education Field of Study Social work or a related field
Licensure & Certification State license (requirements vary by location), Certified Case Manager voluntary certification (recommended)
Key Responsibilities Conduct client interviews; determine necessary treatments; counsel individuals, children and families
Job Growth (2014-24) 12%*
Median Salary (2015) $45,900*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Case Worker Do?

Case workers, sometimes called social workers, case managers and family service workers, provide their clients with therapy, counseling and personal support to aid with the challenges of daily life. You would interview clients to learn about their circumstances and decide what services are necessary to address their issues. You might help clients cope with child-rearing problems, unemployment, poverty, disabilities, domestic abuse or addiction. If you work with children, you might explore childcare options for single parents, coordinate adoptions and seek foster homes for abused children.

It would also be your responsibility to connect clients with other services, such as healthcare, financial support, counseling and legal assistance. You would maintain case records and sometimes file government forms and insurance paperwork. You might find positions in public welfare, government agencies, medical facilities, community health organizations and private agencies.

What Training Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most case workers need a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field to qualify for a position; however, a graduate degree, such as a master's degree in social work, may be necessary to become a licensed social worker. Entry-level work may require only some college courses, and you may be able to supplement your education with on-the-job training.

A bachelor's degree in social work would teach you to provide counseling and support services to people in different social, economic and cultural situations. Most programs will also provide you with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with local agencies. A master's degree program in social work could prepare you for the supervisory duties associated with being a social worker.

Do I Need to Get Licensed or Certified?

Although certification is voluntary, many employers require case workers to become certified. Earning the Certified Case Manager credential from the Commission for Case Manager Certification would demonstrate to current and future employers that your skills, experience and training are recognized by a professional organization. Eligibility requirements include a diploma or degree in a relevant field and licensure or certification that qualifies you to work without supervision (www.ccmcertification.org).

Because states adhere to different requirements, you should research licensing requirements in your state. For example, to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Oregon, you would need to hold a master's degree in social work, have at least two years of full-time experience and pass state exams (www.oregon.gov). While board certification and certain positions require a state license, some positions that involve on-the-job training in social work may not.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Similar to the responsibilities of a case worker, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are responsible for determining if rehabilitation is needed, and the most effective means for a probationer. They also provide resources for jobs or training programs. Another career possibility is becoming a health educator or community health worker, which would require you assisting the public find health services while observing what is needed health-wise within the community. Additionally, you could consider becoming a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, in which you would deal directly with behavioral problems such as drug addiction or alcoholism. You would be responsible for providing support for recovering addicts, while ensuring to alter the negative behaviors through applicable treatments.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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