What Are the Prospects for Social Workers?
Social work is a surprising career choice for many who are considering it. But what exactly is the job outlook for social workers? We’ll look at factors that determine their pay, the type of education required to work in the field, where they traditionally work, and general details about the typical social worker’s job. We’ll also look at how the workplace for social workers is changing.
Education and Pay
A bachelor’s degree in social work is a minimum to work in the field. A master’s in social work or MSW degree boosts one’s pay by 25%. You can earn a masters in social work online while working in the field, and many employers will pay for your education.
The average pay for social workers in the United States was roughly $46,000 in May 2016. Healthcare social workers earned a median $54,000 a year. Social workers earned an average $43,000. The top 10% earned nearly $80,000, though that’s skewed upward by the pay rates necessary to live in insanely expensive areas like New York City and San Francisco.
Social workers rarely remain in the office. They’re in homeless shelters and women’s shelters checking up on the displaced and trying to connect them with social services and charities that provide long-term housing. They’re checking on children in foster care or following up on allegations of child abuse and neglect. They may evaluate homes before approving a family’s request to adopt a child or review reports that someone’s hoarding has made a home unlivable. They may advocate for runaways and find options like care homes or custody with other relatives to get kids off the streets.
There are some social workers assigned to schools. They may help children kicked out of the house find other housing arrangements, support mothers in difficulty so that they can continue going to school, or assess family situations that are keeping a child from attending school. In cases of continual violence at school or suspected behavioral issues, they may arrange assessments or support services.
Depending on qualifications, social work can include counseling for addiction and emotional problems. Others work in determining someone’s eligibility for government benefits or charitable programs.
Due to demographic shifts and an increasing acceptability of seeking counseling for a variety of issues, demand for social workers in healthcare settings is expected to grow 27% between now and 2022. Substance and addiction social workers are expected to see a 23% increase in employment. This is partially due to judges preferring to sentence people to rehab instead of prison. Demand for child and family social workers will only grow about 12% over the next ten years, pacing the rate of population growth.
Social workers enjoy middle-class pay rates, though the hours required to manage caseloads may be significant. They see a major increase in pay upon earning a master’s degree. The demand for social workers working with families will grow slowly, while demand for those aiding addicts and those navigating the healthcare system will grow much faster.