What Are Some Common Careers in Social Work?

Common careers in social work involve working with youths, families, terminally ill medical patients and individuals striving to beat addiction. Social workers assist people in dealing with various personal, health or environmental problems. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Social workers do a variety of jobs with several specializations. Below are three different kinds of social workers with information on what they do.

Important Facts about Social Work

Average Pay $53,590 (healthcare social workers)
Required Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs (2014) 145,920 (healthcare social workers)
Similar Occupations Probation officers; psychologists; rehab counselors; career counselors

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Child, School and Family Social Work

Among the common duties performed by a child and family social worker are arranging adoptions, finding foster homes for children and assisting single parents. Social workers involved with schools serve as the liaison between the school and students' families, working with school staff and parents or guardians. Dealing with such problems as truancy and teenage pregnancy is part of a career in school social work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these workers were expected to see 19% growth in employment from 2012 through 2022 (www.bls.gov).

Social Work Careers in Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Social work in the mental health and substance abuse areas often involves assisting with group and individual therapy, rehabilitation or crisis intervention. Substance abuse treatment facilities, hospitals, family service agencies or local organizations are likely places of employment for social workers. Jobs in the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder field were predicted to grow by 31% from 2012 to 2022, said the BLS.

Social Work in Medical and Public Health Settings

Professionals with careers in health-related social work provide support for families and patients with chronic, acute or terminal illness, such as AIDS, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Social work responsibilities include arranging meals-on-wheels or home care. The BLS noted that the growing senior population and aging baby boomers would increase the demand for those who specialize in geriatric social work for seniors.

Social workers in this area may work for nursing homes, personal care facilities, service agencies, local governments or hospitals. The BLS reported that jobs in the Health Educators and Community Health field were expected to grow by about 21% from 2012 through 2022.

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