There are many routes you can take within a career in social work. Jobs in geriatrics, child welfare, criminal justice, addictive behaviors, and more. You may work within many of these fields throughout your career until you find your passion. Here are a few potential roles:
Geriatric Social Worker
Gerontological social workers assist elderly clients with a variety of tasks, including accessing community resources and services, developing end-of-life plans with clients and their families, and advocating for holistic care in assisted living or rehabilitative centers. Their focus on gerontology gives them insight into the specific needs of aging populations, encouraging their patients to have active, healthy lifestyles while monitoring mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
A geriatric social worker may be responsible for the following tasks:
- Liaising with clients, families, and community resource centers
- Monitoring patients’ mental health and independence
- Ensuring safe, quality healthcare and living situations
- Coordinating the completion of end-of-life plans, such as advanced directives and legal documents
Geriatric social work salaries average around $42,000 each year. Another benefit in this field is potential flexibility in work hours; gerontological social workers may find opportunities for evening or weekend hours in settings such as nursing homes.
For one-on-one geriatric care, clinical social work licensure is usually required. While some positions are available to bachelors-level social workers, there is much more opportunity for those with a master’s degree in social work. Some states and positions also require certifications specific to working with aging populations, in order to ensure that geriatric social workers are equipped to meet the unique needs of elderly patients and their families.
Geriatric Care Manager
Care managers attend to the holistic well-being of elderly patients and their families. They address many needs, such as interaction with the healthcare system, legal referrals, financial arrangements, and patient rights advocacy. Geriatric care managers demonstrate organizational skills, compassion, and a focus on the specific needs of the elderly while supporting families as well as their clients. They specialize in networking between various agencies and companies to gain proper care and stability for their patients.
A geriatric care manager may assist with the following aspects of a client’s life:
- Obtaining quality healthcare
- Paying bills and arranging finances
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Accessing community and legal resources
- Maintaining strong family relationships
- Securing safe, compassionate assisted living care when needed
With an average salary of around $47,600 per year, geriatric care managers have the opportunity to increase their earnings as they gain experience in the field and increase their level of licensure or certification via an MSW degree or training programs
Geriatric care managers may enter the field with a background and degree in nursing or social work. Some employers may prefer a candidate who holds a license in social work, especially if the role focuses heavily on the emotional and relational needs of clients. Certain positions may call for an advanced degree, such as an MSW, depending on the location and specific needs of patients within an agency’s network.
Home Care Social Work
A medical social worker in a home care setting will address the specific needs of patients residing at home. These patients may have been recently discharged from nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, or hospitals, so their medical situations add complexity to the role. Home care social workers build a network of care, involving patients, families, medical professionals, and other caregivers to facilitate holistic recovery and well-being.
Medical home care social workers handle tasks such as:
- Discharge planning for clients moving from healthcare facilities to their homes
- Working with families to ensure safe living environments for patients
- Supporting patients and families as they strengthen relationships and adapt to changing dynamics
- Helping clients access medical care and community resources
- Evaluates home safety and patients’ abilities to operate independently
Home care social workers have a median yearly income of $53,456. As with many careers in the social work field, higher levels of licensure and greater experience can boost potential earnings.
Home care social workers should hold a clinical social work license. Licenses are available at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Entry-level positions are often available to BSW (bachelor’s of social work) recipients, while positions with the opportunity for upward career movement will generally require an MSW degree.
Nursing Home Surveyor
Long-term care surveyors ensure that residents of care facilities receive quality, safe, and compassionate care. They investigate whether facilities are meeting licensure requirements, respond to complaints by patients and their families, and support action toward improving care. Care surveyors may evaluate nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and support living households. Their roles involve a combination
of interaction with staff, directors, and patients as well as detailed evaluation and reporting. Specifically, nursing home surveyors:
- Conduct on-site investigations
- Interview relevant directors, staff members, patients, and families
- Complete assessment documentation and confer with an evaluation team
- Evaluate eligibility for licensure
- Develop plans for addressing care issues and bringing about long-term improvements
As many nursing home surveyors are employed by state governments, salaries vary greatly from state to
state. They can expect to earn at least $40,000 per year, and up to $60,000 in some areas.