Top Social Work Industry Jobs in 2014

how to become a social worker

If you are interested in making a concrete difference in the lives of people, a career in social work would be a good choice. There are a number of social work careers available, and familiarizing yourself with the options can help you match your interests with potential social work jobs.

Learning how to become a social worker begins with understanding what a social worker does. A social worker’s level of education and place of employment determine what he or she does. Generally, social workers who deal directly with people help them with the problems they face every day. For instance, a social worker might help a person find a job or apply for social security benefits. A social worker who is licensed to do clinical work might also help the person to deal with mental health problems. Examples of social work areas to specialize in are mental health, public health/medical care, addiction, and child welfare.

Mental Health Social Worker

A master’s degree is usually required to be a social worker in clinical practice. Clinical social workers do counseling and other mental health related tasks. Special licensing is required to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). With this degree, social workers can work in many settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, and schools. Someone with a master’s in social work can expect to earn an average salary over $40,000.

>> Learn how to become a social worker

Public Health/Medical Care

The medical field has many opportunities for social workers. This area has the most demand for new social workers. Medical social workers work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, emergency rooms, rehab facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living social work jobsfacilities. The job description for public health or medical social workers usually includes advocating for patients and helping them make decisions. The medical field usually pays well, and medical social workers can earn an average salary of $41,000 to $58,000.

>> Discover degrees and programs to help you earn a public health career


An area where social workers play an important role is in addiction treatment. Addiction social workers may work in private practices, detention centers, treatment centers, and jails. It takes a great deal of patience and understanding to work with addicts. While there are shorter training programs for addiction counselors, you will earn more money if you have a degree and license in social work. The average salary for an addiction social worker is $36,000 to $49,000.

Child Welfare

Another area of social work that demands patience, understanding, and a love of children is child welfare work. Child welfare social workers work with neglected and abused children. Social workers who choose this career become part detective, as much of their work is to investigate a child’s living situation and follow up on reported abuse. The work is difficult but rewarding, and the average salary is $25,000 to $47,000.

Most social work jobs require a bachelor’s degree in social work, but getting an advanced degree puts you in a position to have more job options at higher pay. Each state determines the licensing required for particular jobs, and while not all jobs require a license, having one puts you in a better position to earn more.

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