USA Career Guide - Social Worker

Social work as a career may sound lucrative but requires a lot of effort. In fact it is much more than a career. It is a career that makes difference not to one's own life but to the lives of many others. There are many different careers within social services, requiring a range of skills.

As a social worker, one has the advantage of working with different groups of people in the private, government or voluntary sector. The various sector included are children, women's and the elderly, individuals with mental illness or physical disability, crime related problems and youth related issues. One of the major role social service workers play is empowering people who use social services, assisting them to make them informed decisions which will help them to improve their lives.


To begin a career as a social worker at entry level, one should at least have a bachelors degree. Though some jobs require a master's degree. Social workers intending to work in medical field must posses a master's degree. Some positions, including in schools or in healthcare, often require a master’s degree.

Master in Social Work (MSW), is a two-year degree program. Though there are certain programs which allow you to complete Master's in one year after doing bachelor's in social work (BSW). Doing a specialization in social work enhances skills to handle large group of people, working on adverse conditions at the same time finding solutions to critical issues.

Related areas for Social Working in USA

  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Community mental health clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • State and local governments
  • Private practices
  • Military bases and hospitals
  • Substance abuse clinics

Pay of a Social worker in the US

The median annual wages of social workers in May 2010 were as following:
  • $38,600 for mental health and substance abuse social workers
  • $40,210 for child, family, and schools social workers
  • $47,230 for healthcare social workers
  • $51,500 for all other social workers
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics)

Job Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job opportunities for social workers is expected to increase by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020. The growth will be as a result of the increased demand in health care and social services, depending upon the area of specialization.

Employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 31 percent, as a result of growth in the number of people seeking treatment for addiction and mental illness.

Employment of child, family, and school social workers is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020. However, growth in this profession may be not much because of the  by budget constraints at all levels of government.

Employment of healthcare social workers is expected to grow by 34 percent, as result of growth in baby births. Which in turn will result in increase demand for healthcare social workers.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Job prospects of a Social Worker in the US

Social Workers can work in the following areas:

  • Psychologists
  • Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Social and Community Service Managers
  • School and Career Counselors
  • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
  • Social and Human Service Assistants
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