Seven Outstanding Career Options if You’ve Earned a Social Work Degree

For a true altruist at heart, no field can be as personally satisfying as social work, and fortunately, this domain is pretty broad. There are numerous options if you’re looking for a job in social work. Social work generally involves helping people in the community deal with mental, emotional, behavioral, and environmental challenges.

What makes this profession a fantastic choice is that in addition to offering diversity, social work is also an ever-evolving and rapidly growing field. The Bureau of Labour Statistics reports a growth rate for employment in social work at 13% between 2019 and 2029, which is greater than the average estimate for other fields.

So if you have a degree in social work, the career prospects are high, especially in the healthcare industry because of the increased demand in this sector following the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are some of the best career options you have once you have earned your social work degree:

1. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

As the name suggests, these social workers operate in clinical settings diagnosing and identifying mentally ill or struggling clients facing mental health challenges. A licensed clinical social worker assists people in dealing with difficult circumstances and traumatic experiences.

An LCSW must assess the client’s condition, devise treatment plans, and direct the client through different therapies. Unlike psychologists, an LCSW focuses on treating the problem by helping the client focus on and foster their strengths socially.

In such situations, the social worker might encounter situations where there is a personal threat of violence from a mentally ill client. This is why social workers safety tips should be part of any training or degree program. A licensed clinical social worker can earn between $40,740 and $70,660 a year.

2. Substance abuse social worker

Substance abuse counselors deal directly with people who struggle with problems like alcoholism, substance abuse, drug use, etc. More often than not, these individuals also face other mental health issues like depression or anxiety. So these social workers are also trained in mental health and can incorporate this knowledge into their practice.

Broadly, a mental health and substance abuse social worker performs three essential steps; implementing assessment, developing a care plan, and following up with the progress. These social workers typically work in counseling centers and healthcare facilities.

A substance abuse social worker might also encounter situations where they are expected to handle other comorbid additions like gambling problems. They can earn an average of $42,650 annually.

3. Child and family social worker

The focus of a child and family social worker is on those children and families that are at risk in the community. You can work in different environments as a social worker, from homes and schools to other settings.

Their primary role includes identifying at-risk populations, assessing these children’s health and psychological threats, advocating for their rights, and talking to the counselors and teachers to determine their specific needs.

Some child social workers are specifically assigned to identify good foster homes for children and ensure they are not subjected to abuse or neglect. The job description also involves conducting home assessments to ensure the children are in safe environments, especially those living with adoptive parents.

To become a child and family social worker, in addition to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you need to have experience with child welfare from some relevant internship. In this profession, you can expect an average annual salary of $43,000.

4. Health education specialist

You can apply for this post with a bachelor’s degree in social science, health education, or another relevant field. Some employers might demand certification, and sometimes a master’s or doctoral degree might be a requirement.

A health education specialist is tasked with the duty of ensuring the overall well-being of the client. This includes assessing the initial health status, developing an educational plan to psycho-educate the client and their family, and guiding clients to the right healthcare services.

Other than focusing on individuals, health educators also work with groups and communities to help them prioritize health and introduce measures in various settings like education institutes. Health education specialists can seek jobs in hospitals, NGOs, and government agencies, at an average annual salary of $34,091.

5. Rehabilitation case worker

As a rehabilitation case worker, you are responsible for helping the elderly, disabled, or ill individuals get back into society and seek employment. Considering the patient’s skill and ability limitations, the rehabilitation specialist finds the right career paths for them and assists them in achieving those goals.

You aren’t expected to be directly involved in patient care, but you will work with a rehabilitation team and perhaps the external case manager (usually an insurance company). As a rehab case worker, you will operate in various settings, from hospitals and home health settings to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers.

Patient advocacy is also part of the job description for a rehabilitation case worker. The annual salary for this profession ranges from $35,950 to $63,790.

6. Case management aide

Some social workers have greater satisfaction in working behind the scenes and not in the spotlight. This profession is suitable for someone who doesn’t need the limelight and has a knack for a management role.

Case management aides don’t work with clients directly; instead, they assist other social workers in handling and organizing cases that others are working on. With strong organizational skills, the main task of a case management aide is to handle paperwork, conduct meetings, and help social workers with similar behind-the-scenes jobs.

Here you can expect an average annual salary of $39,600.

7.  Probation officers

Social workers can also choose to work in the criminal justice field; as a probation officer, you manage the cases of people convicted of a crime and put them on probation. Good conduct during this probation or provisional period can help them avoid jail time.

A probation officer monitors the offender during the probation period, stays in contact with them, and ensures that they meet the legal requirements. This also includes handling all the paperwork for the process. A probation officer earns an average of $50,921 annually.

Final words

Social work can be a highly personally rewarding choice for anyone who gets satisfaction from helping others. When you have a degree in social work, it opens the door to many different professions.

From licensed clinical social work, substance abuse counseling, child and family social work, and rehabilitation to case management – there are plenty of avenues to explore. But first, you must identify your interests to find a profession that matches your taste.