According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. More than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees.
Importance of Social Work in Our Society
The primary mission of social work is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, especially those who are vulnerable, oppressed or living in poverty. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.
Social workers impact our lives by helping the elderly, the poor, those in hospitals, children, mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts and those with physical and mental disabilities. They not only help the afflicted, but they also help the families of the afflicted.
- Federal law and the National Institutes of Health recognize social work as one of five core mental health professions.
- The National Association of Social Workers has stated that social workers fundamentally believe that a nation’s strength depends on the ability of the majority of its citizens to lead productive and healthy lives.
A Society In Need
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. People living in poverty need social workers to help them cope with the overwhelming challenges of homelessness, unemployment, underemployment, and poor health.
- According to the U.S. Surgeon General, about 20 percent of the U.S. population is affected by mental illness during a given year. Social workers are critically important providers of clinical services to people who struggle with mood disorders, anxiety, psychoses, substance abuse, and other serious forms of mental illness.
- According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in 2010 child protection agencies received nearly 2 million reports of child abuse or neglect. Of the nearly 1.8 million reports that were investigated, 436,321 were substantiated. Throughout the United States, skilled social workers provide critically important clinical services to protect abused and neglected children and help families cope with the stressors in their lives.
- The Pew Center on the States reports that, for the first time in history, more than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison. Social workers employed in correctional institutions provide vitally important social and counseling services to inmates whose personal struggles have landed them in trouble with the law.
In High Demand
- Social workers in the medical field are in high demand, as the number of jobs is expected to grow by 22 percent through 2018, and earn anywhere from $49,830 to $74,030 annually per recent reports at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- As the legal system continues to increase the emphasis on rehabilitation, employment as a substance abuse counselor is predicted to grow by 20 percent by 2018.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), professional social workers are the nation’s largest group of mental health services providers. There are more clinically trained social workers — over 200,000 — than psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined.
- The Veteran’s Administration employs more than 12,000 social workers to assist veterans and their families with individual and family counseling, patient education, end-of -life planning, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention, and other services.
- More than 40 percent of all disaster mental health volunteers trained by the American Red Cross are professional social workers.
- A study from the National Association of Social Workers shows that 79 percent of active social work practitioners have a master’s degree.
- For entry-level positions, you will need an undergraduate degree with a focus on social work.
- If you want to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a master’s or doctoral degree in social work is required.
- Before becoming a full-fledged social worker, you will need work experience under the supervision of a mentor. The number of hours of supervised work depends on your state’s requirements, but 1,500 hours is a common number.
- You will need to pass the Clinical Level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam and must be licensed by your state board of social work to practice in this profession.
Most of us equate social work with low-paying jobs, but although social work has historically been a lower-paying profession, the current demand for individuals with specific skills sets and specialized education has improved social work salaries across the board.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a social worker employed in an elementary or secondary school earns on average $54,260 per year.
- Salaries can vary based on several factors, including educational background, qualifications, geographic location, and specialization.
- Clinical social workers earn a median salary of $53,590. The best-paid in the industry make $76,940.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the best-paid 10 percent of child and family social workers earn around $72,510.