Social Work Degree: The major of social work offers a dynamic field of study that aims to enhance people’s lives through social welfare systems. It opens doors to various career options, from government and education, healthcare, to psychological services. One common thread that unites the different roles social work majors can play is their urge to connect with people and improve their lives. Social workers often help individuals or groups who are vulnerable: elderly people, children, veterans, and those living in poverty. Hence, pursuing a social work degree can provide a fulfilling but emotionally draining career path. Social workers leave their jobs at night knowing that they have made a positive difference in the world.
Facing difficulties is a universal experience, and social workers assist individuals to overcome these challenges related to poverty, abuse, disability, addiction, isolation, and mental illness. In this article, we will discuss the potential career options for social work majors, outlining their unique characteristics and entry-level salary expectations. Social work majors have numerous career opportunities, and these continue to increase. However, it is vital to note that many related jobs require a Master’s degree in Social Work. Therefore, students who are keen on pursuing a social work career may also consider graduate school, as salaries are higher for jobs that require a graduate degree in Social Work.
Social Work Degree: Careers & Salaries Revealed
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Public Policy Analyst
Median salary: $58,560
Career options for social work graduates extend beyond direct service work, with roles available that focus on macro-level social services and strategies. Public policy analysts assist non-profit organizations and government agencies in driving change on a broader social scale, evaluating existing social systems and proposing solutions for improved efficacy and a greater positive impact. From developing public housing units and overseeing public works projects to formulating legislation and conducting training programs or outreach initiatives, public policy analysts work to support marginalized or at-risk groups and serve the public good.
Human Resources Coordinator
Median salary: $58,560
Human resources coordination is another career path open to social work graduates, with skills and concepts learned during their degree transferable to human resources duties. HR coordinators are responsible for all central HR functions, including managing employee concerns, policies around salary and benefits, labor negotiations, and employee relations. Working closely with other HR personnel, they ensure that the working environment is supportive and safe, with employment prospects across a variety of industries.
School Guidance and Career Counselors
Median salary: $42,350
The median salary for school guidance and career counselors is $42,350. These professionals work with all students in a school, providing counseling programs that can be accessed in both individual and group settings. They help students with various tasks, such as creating study plans, building resilience, and considering post-secondary options like college and military opportunities. Unlike school social workers who work primarily with at-risk students, school guidance and career counselors are responsible for coaching all students to identify their strengths and areas where they need improvement. Collaboration with other professionals in a school, including school social workers, is also vital.
School Social Worker
Median salary: $47,390
On the other hand, school social workers earn a median salary of $47,390. Their primary focus is on mental health, behavior, and academic performance, ensuring that students are in a safe and positive environment suitable for learning and growth. School social workers work with teachers, parents, administrators, and other professionals to provide support, resources, and interventions that meet the needs of students. They participate in activities such as crisis interventions, group and individual counseling, and educational planning meetings for students. Some social workers rotate to different schools, providing them with an opportunity to work with diverse students, families, and staff.
Healthcare Social Worker
Average salary: $56,750
The role of a Healthcare Social Worker is crucial in providing patients with chronic diseases, acute medical crises, and/or terminal illnesses emotional support, education, resources, and access to proper treatment. These social workers advocate for their clients’ overall wellbeing and resolve any issues that arise during the healthcare process. They also connect patients and families with community health programs and social services, providing a reassuring sense of knowledge, calm support, and consistency.
Prison Social Worker
Average salary: $59,000
Similarly, Prison Social Workers, also known as Correctional Social Workers, work to minimize the rates of recidivism by addressing the underlying psycho-social issues of inmates. By helping them develop coping mechanisms and access social support systems, these social workers aim to prepare inmates for a meaningful life beyond prison. They work not only in typical correctional facilities but also in various other settings, including abuse crisis centers, police departments, juvenile detention centers, and court systems. These social workers focus primarily on rehabilitation and must complete extensive administrative records, detailed files, and coordination with other professionals.
Case Manager, Social Services
Average salary: $39,790
The field of social services employs two important roles: case managers and patient care coordinators. A case manager’s primary responsibility is to connect patients with the best care available to them by working with various agencies and professionals. Though they may provide occasional counseling, their focus is on coordinating care. Case managers can find work in a wide variety of industries, from hospitals to government agencies.
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Patient Care Coordinator
Average salary: $39,690
Patient care coordinators, on the other hand, work specifically with patients who need extra support, such as the elderly or disabled. They oversee and coordinate treatment plans, help patients understand their conditions, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to monitor patients’ progress. They also assist patients in making appointments and advocating for the best possible care. As medical care becomes increasingly complex, patient care coordinators will play an increasingly important role in supporting and educating patients and their families.
Child and Family Social Worker
Median salary: $47,390
The profession of Child and Family Social Work involves providing support, resources, and education to both children and their parents or guardians. Social workers in this field often work with families who have undergone trauma, health issues, or abuse. Their primary goal is to help families identify and access appropriate resources for keeping children at home, but if that is not possible, they assist with the placement process elsewhere.
Child and Family Social Workers also work with children who have experienced personal traumas, loss or abuse from someone outside their family. They work in different settings like schools, government organizations, adoption agencies, foster care services, or other social support systems to ensure children receive the care they require.
Substance Abuse & Recovery Treatment Counselor
Median salary: $42,170
Substance Abuse and Recovery Treatment Counselors assist in supporting, educating, and coaching people through the process of addiction recovery. Social workers specializing in substance abuse offer recovering addicts, professional tools, support systems, and strategies to overcome addiction. They usually work alongside other professionals like medical doctors and psychologists/psychiatrists for the best patient care possible.
The counselors tailor a patient’s treatment plan according to their unique needs, typically discussing their life and history of addiction one on one. The treatment plan can involve different therapeutic approaches, from counseling to in-patient treatment. The social worker maintains regular contact with the patient to monitor changes and revise the treatment plan if necessary. Substance abuse and recovery treatment counselors can work in various settings such as hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, community health centers, recovery treatment centers, and mental health clinics.