A strong desire to help other people is one of the most compelling reasons to become a social worker. As a career, social work allows professionals to explore employment settings and types of work as they provide assistance to people in need.
Social work is one of the best careers centered on helping people. Social workers meet with clients, find out their needs, and help them sign up for available government and community assistance programs. A successful social worker can literally help save lives by getting children and families food, income and living support. School-based social workers ensure that children with disabilities get necessary assistance to optimize their educational experience. Social workers also help coordinate adoptions and remove children living in dangerous or abusive living environments.
While the basic goal of any social work job is to help clients get the assistance they need, you may choose from a variety of work environments and employers. You may work in schools or hospitals, or for local, state or government offices, and human service agencies. Social workers also perform general family services, or may specialize in programs serving infants and children, pregnant women or people with disabilities. This flexibility improves the chances that a social worker lands in a career that is satisfying. It also protects against boredom in the profession.
Access to a very stable employment field is another motive for becoming a social work professional. Social service programs are built into the fabric of American society, and there will always be some members of society who rely on public assistance. Increased rates of mental and emotional illness also dictate greater need for social services in communities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 19 percent job growth for social workers between 2012 and 2022, which is well above the typical growth rate for all employers.
While most social workers in public offices and schools earn incomes right around the national average, some employment settings pay more. Healthcare social workers, which included 141,830 people as of May 2013, earned an average annual salary of $52,520, according to the BLS. This was above the national average for all jobs of $46,440. You can gain higher-level positions and greater income with a master's of social work. Ten percent of healthcare social workers made at or above $75,140 per year.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Social Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Child, Family, and School Social Workers
- USC Social Work: The Benefits of a Career in Social Work
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Healthcare Social Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: United States
- National Association of Social Workers: Careers in Social Work
- Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images
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