Careers in Social Work

If you want a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction and an abundance of options, social work is for you!  Social workers are skilled professionals who work to empower individuals, relieve suffering, and affect social change.  They are generalists and specialists who work in a wide variety of settings but apply common core values, principles, and techniques.

Social work is set apart from other helping professions by its “person-in-environment” orientation.  Social workers view clients within an environmental system that includes their personal and significant relationships, economic and social conditions, and physical and mental health issues.  Social workers help people identify and manage the interrelated factors that have created or contributed to the problems they face, and select interventions that might provide relief or resolution.

Social workers are also advocates for social change. They serve as facilitators, coalition builders, and activists in organizations, communities, and local, state and federal governments to help meet the basic needs of all people and strengthen those who are vulnerable, oppressed or living in poverty.

For sheer variety, few occupations can match social work and the broad range of opportunities and settings it offers.  Social workers work in mental health and health care, in child welfare and aging, in management and in clinical settings.  They work in hospitals, schools, businesses, public agencies, police departments, private practices, and many other interesting workplaces They are managers, therapists, community organizers, educators, and researchers.  They are on the front lines and behind the scenes.  They are in large cities and in small communities. Wherever people are, social workers are. 

Social work is an excellent career choice for those who care about human dignity and social justice – and it may just what you are looking for. 

About the profession

The profession of social work was founded on a set of core values and principles that still guide its unique purpose and perspective today.  These core values include service, social justice, inherent dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.  For more than 100 years, social workers have helped millions of people challenge their circumstances and change their lives, and pushed institutions to value and support persons in need.


Three levels of social work education – bachelor’s (BSW), master’s (MSW),  and doctoral (DSW and PhD) are offered in colleges and universities across the United States.  Professional social workers, as defined by the NASW  hold a degree in social work from accredited Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) college of university at one of these levels.  Degree programs include both classroom study and practical field experience.

Licensing or Certification Requirements

State legally regulate the practice of social work to protect the public and control  the use of the social work title and practice.  For more information, go to the Licensure section of our Web site. 


Center for Workforce Studies

  • Conducts studies of the current social work labor force as well as collect information from other sources in order to serve as a unique clearinghouse for educators, policy makers, social workers, and public and private work force planners;
  • Enhances social work professional development through innovative training programs in emerging practice areas; and
  • Disseminates timely information and resources on evidence-based practices.

    Choices:Careers in Social Work Brochure
    For information about specific social work careers


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