Before embarking on the journey of graduate level social work education, many potential candidates wonder what they can expect from a social work career. While nearly everyone is familiar with the term “social worker,” this position title can be applied to a wide range of MSW jobs for the graduate, and there are many other job titles for which MSW graduates make strong candidates.
A Master of Social Work degree opens an exciting career path with a full array of MSW jobs for social work practitioners and policy makers at the individual, community, and societal level.
The following are some examples of the types of MSW jobs available to you:
Individual Level – Social work graduates who primarily want to work one-on-one with clients have a variety of possibilities for entry-level and more advanced positions. MSW jobs include:
- Case-worker – these positions utilize social work skills to assist clients in accessing and navigating needed health and human services. Caseworkers are usually employed at an agency that might serve a diversity of clients, or focus on specific populations such as clients who are experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, mental health issues, who have received an HIV/AIDS diagnosis, LGBTQ individuals, children/youth, and more.
- Court Advocate – these positions utilize social work skills to advocate for clients’ rights and needs within the criminal or civil justice system. Court advocates typically work within organizations that assist clients during their interactions with the justice system such as those who have been convicted of a crime, those who have been charged with a crime, survivors of domestic violence, undocumented immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, juvenile offenders, and more.
- Therapist – these positions utilize clinical social work skills to assist clients through one-on-one psychotherapy. Client and clinician have sessions over time to form a positive working relationship and collaborate toward the accomplishment of short and long term goals through treatment planning, relationship-building, and dialogue. Therapists are often employed in mental health agencies, but may also go into or work in private practice settings, and serve a variety of populations, depending on expertise and interest.
- School Social Worker – these positions utilize social work skills to improve the lives and functioning of students. School social workers meet with students individually to assess their strengths and needs and identify strategies to assist students with a variety of potential problem areas, such as school performance, behavior, family issues, learning disabilities and developmental delays, social skills, and more.
Community Level – Social work graduates who want to impact communities have many job prospects available including:
- Non-profit Manager/Director – these positions utilize social work skills to leverage resources and design and implement programs that meet community needs. A great diversity of non-profits serves a great diversity of communities and populations. Non-profits can be focused on a geographic community, a cultural community, or an identity-based community. Nonprofit Managers and Directors work with a team of other social workers and qualified individuals to carry out their mission and ensure effective operation.
- Community Organizer – these positions utilize social work skills to bring communities together to mobilize for change. Community organizers often work with an established community organization, church, or non-profit to organize community members around specific issues and action items, such as raising the minimum wage, immigration reform, worker’s rights, civic engagement, and more.
- Program Director – these positions utilize social work skills to carry out specific programs that are focused on biopsychosocial good-being. Program Directors often work for or partner with non-profit organizations and social service agencies to directly implement a program with a group of participants. These could include anti-bullying programs, sexual health education programs, adult learning, parenting programs, and more.
Societal Level – social work graduates who are interested in public policy and social change might consider a position that allows them to work at the societal level, such as:
- Policy Analyst – these positions utilize social work skills in policy analysis and development. Policy analysts are often employed by large think-tank organizations that might be focused on shaping policy on specific issues, such as Poverty or Hunger. Policy analysts study social issues to find innovative solutions to human and societal problems.
- Social Researcher – these positions utilize social work skills in research and writing to examine social issues and marginalized populations and generate new knowledge about them. Social researchers design and carry out human-centered studies to gain the information needed to foster new understandings through data analysis and research reports.
Haven’t Earned Your MSW Degree Yet?
There are a number of colleges offering online MSW degrees, classroom programs and blended programs that can fit most schedules. Many of the jobs listed in this article require a MSW degree.
There are so many different types of MSW jobs available to those who are credentialed. Why wait?