Career Choice: Social Worker

Career Choice: Social Worker
  • Opening Intro -

    If you like to make a difference in the lives of others, then pursuing a career as a social worker may be right for you.


Successful social workers are one-part idealists and the other part realists, knowing that they can touch many lives, but also understanding that their work has its limits. Yet, this profession makes it possible for empathetic individuals to touch people in ways that they might not be able to do otherwise, bringing help, hope and healing to numerous individuals.


Social workers reach out to individuals, families, groups, even entire communities, providing counseling to address the needs of a wide variety of people. Some social workers work with abandoned and abused children, others assist the elderly, with not a few working in schools to help students that may be dealing with divorce, separation, anxiety, disabilities or impoverishment.

These professionals are assigned cases and will build case histories, prepare reports and liaise with family members, community leaders, legal authorities and others. Client referrals, court appearances, service plans and custodial matters are among the responsibilities of the social worker.


Work as a social worker and you will need a bachelor’s degree. Many positions, however, require the completion of a master’s degree program. Typically, social workers complete a Bachelor of Social Work program, taking courses in human behavior, social welfare, social environment, child welfare and social justice. Successfully completing a field practicum is required.

Clinical social workers are required to hold a Masters in Social Work. For professionals seeking to become a licensed clinical social worker, the BLS notes that, “2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation,” is required. Once their supervised experience has been finished, clinical social workers must sit for and pass an exam to obtain licensure.


As of 2011, the median annual wage for social workers was $40,680 according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Salaries for those in the 10th percentile averaged $26,200 per year in 2011. Those social workers in the 25th percentile averaged $32,500 per year to $53,600 for those in the 75th percentile. Social workers in the 90th percentile earned $70,100 per year on average.

As with all professions, salary levels among social workers can vary across the nation. In Connecticut, social workers earned a median wage of $64,000 in 2011. Minnesota at $57,400 and New Jersey at $55,200 followed. At the bottom of the pay spectrum West Virginia social workers earned $28,700 per year. In Oklahoma, the median wage was $30,800, while in Mississippi the average was $31,300.

Job Outlook

The job prospects for aspiring social workers are bright with the BLS forecasting a 25 percent increase in jobs from 2010 to 2020. That rate is far above the 14 percent average for all jobs. Expect strong demand for social workers in health care and social services.


O*Net OnLine: 21-1021.00 – Child, Family, and School Social Workers —

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers —

See AlsoHow to Become a College Tutor


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Categories: Career Planning