Becoming a social worker means a career dedicated to helping others, but that help can come in many forms and in a wide range of areas. Social workers can help individual children and adults, whole cities or even the entire nation in a variety of ways.
The good news is that the career outlook for social workers is growing rapidly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following list highlights the many options in this field with these top seven social worker roles and job titles.
1. Medical and Public Health Social Worker
Salary range: $36,624–$70,415*
Medical and public health social workers focus on the health of their community at large. These social workers are often employed by local, state and federal government agencies. Depending on the agency, a public health social worker’s scope can encompass the health of a small population size, such as a rural town, or large populations at the national level. These social workers must have an in-depth understanding of the scientific, social and health issues of the entire community they serve.
Public health social workers need a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree can offer more depth of understanding of the intersection between social work and public health concerns. Boston University’s program, for example, offers combined MSW and MPH training. Widener University offers a combined MSW and MEd program specializing in human sexuality issues.
2. Instructor or Professor
Salary range: $29,968–$72,377*
An instructor or professor teaches students about social change theory and the practice of becoming a social worker. Teaching, and the paperwork that goes along with it, occupies a large chunk of time, plus professors are required to stay active in their respective communities by publishing papers regularly. In order to become a professor, a master’s degree is necessary at a minimum, although many schools also require a doctorate degree.
3. Rehabilitation Counselor
Salary range: $28,865–$61,472*
This kind of case worker helps people with disabilities – resulting from genetic conditions, diseases or accidents – become more independent, cope with issues surrounding their disadvantages and assist in career development. Rehabilitation counselors deal with a variety of activities from job placement, coordinating and implementing activities at rehabilitation facilities to individual counseling. A bachelor’s degree is required for this type of position but a master’s degree is preferred by many employers.
4. School Counselor
Salary range: $34,489–$69,692*
School counselors are sometimes called guidance counselors and are based in elementary, middle and high schools. They provide a range of services including guidance on school curriculum and career planning, coordination of preventative programs like anti-bullying campaigns and personalized counseling to individual students. A master’s degree in school counseling is required.
5. Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Salary range: $41,007–$81,945*
A clinical social worker is a health care professional who specializes in providing mental-health services and education to clients. The scope of this job often goes beyond counseling to include interacting with different government agencies on behalf of the client. Clinical social workers often coordinate other services for their clients’ overall wellbeing as well. A Master’s in Social Work (MSW) and a state license are required. To become a licensed clinical social worker, additional years of supervised clinical practice must be performed before applying for a job.
6. Child and Family Social Worker
Salary range: $26,101–$57,645*
A child and family social worker advocates for the rights of children living in at-risk homes. This can include acting as a liaison between government organizations, community institutions and families to find the best environment for the child. Child and family social workers can be based out of a government agency, a school or outpatient care centers. For entry-level positions, a bachelor’s degree is required. To advance in this profession, however, a master’s degree is essential.
7. Marriage and Family Therapist
Salary range: $31,600–$81,960*
These social workers treat a variety of mental and behavioral health issues including anxiety, depression, child-parent dynamics or marital problems. Typically this kind of therapy is short-lived, with an average length of 12 sessions, according to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. At minimum, a master’s degree is required, as well as a state license. Licensing requirements vary by state.
For those looking for a position with a purpose, social work can be a fulfilling line of work. Learn more about the diverse fields of social work practice.