23 Types of Social Workers – Careers in Social Work – Become a Social Worker

Addiction Social Worker

Addiction social workers strive to help their clients overcome a dependence upon both legal and illegal substances, including drugs, alcohol, and caffeine, as well as addictions to activities such as gambling or shopping.

Addiction social workers typically help clients bring about behavior change by mapping out a clear treatment plan, providing critical support and access to resources, and engaging the client in counseling. For example, to assist a client in overcoming their addiction to gambling, an addiction social worker might arrange for the client to participate in Gambler’s Anonymous meetings. Click here for salary information and how to become an addition social worker.

Case Manager

Case managers are in a unique position to assist people in need by devising treatment plans, helping them access resources, and maintaining detailed records of the client’s progress.

For example, a case manager working with a young man that is unemployed would devise a plan for helping him gain employment. That might include helping prepare the man for job interviews, helping him create a resume, and connecting him with organizations that will provide him with business-appropriate clothing for job interviews. Click here for salary information and how to become a case manager.

Child Social Worker

Child social workers specialize in assisting children under the age of 18 to overcome obstacles in their lives through case management, counseling, and skill-building.

Typically, child social workers focus on the child, but in situations in which the family is facing significant obstacles, child social workers will often provide services to parents and siblings as well. For example, if working with a child that’s struggling in school due to a difficult home environment, a child social worker might outline things that parents can do to foster a more supportive home while also providing the child with resources for building academic skills. Click here for salary information and how to become a child social worker.

Child Welfare Social Worker

Being employed as a child welfare social worker means protecting children from situations of abuse and neglect of a physical or emotional nature. Child welfare social workers approach these situations from a holistic standpoint and strive to meet the psychological, physical, and emotional needs of the child that’s been abused or neglected.

In some situations, social workers in this field must make very difficult decisions as well, such as determining the need to remove a child from his or her parents. Click here to read more and learn how to become a child welfare social worker.

Clinical Social Worker

The job duties of a clinical social worker revolve around providing counseling and therapy services to their clients. For example, these social workers will evaluate clients and assess their needs based upon an intake interview. The next step is to work with the client to devise long-term goals and build skills.

Throughout the process, counseling is often a key component, during which the social worker and client identify obstacles to progress, work through feelings and memories, and practice skill-building. In that regard, clinical social work is very much like traditional counseling. Click here to read more and learn how to become a clinical social worker.

Corrections Social Worker

As the job title indicates, corrections social workers provide services directly to individuals in the correctional system. In that capacity, many of the functions of the job are the same – to assess clients, develop treatment plans and goals, and to monitor progress towards those goals.

Additionally, corrections social workers strive to help individuals that are soon to be released from prison to develop skills that will make the transition back into society easier. This might include working on social skills or helping the parolee find employment. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a corrections social worker.

Court Liaison

A court liaison serves the important function of helping organize and coordinate activities related to legal proceedings. For example, a court liaison might contact victims and defendants to schedule their appearances in court, work with local law enforcement agencies to schedule depositions, and serve subpoenas to witnesses.

These workers are usually responsible for copious amounts of paperwork, too, including preparing and organizing court documents, such as the documentation of charges filed against the defendant. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a court liaison.

Disability Social Worker

Disability social workers specialize in providing assistance to individuals that have a physical or mental disability. The types of assistance provided vary widely and depend largely on the needs of each specific client. That is, a client that has a physical disability like an amputated leg will need vastly different services than a client that has mental retardation.

Regardless of the client’s specific situation, workers in this field are responsible for coordinating services like job training and housing for their clients. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a disability social worker.

Family Social Worker

The primary function of a family social worker is to ensure – to the greatest extent possible – the healthy functioning of the family. This can be done in a variety of ways, from providing counseling services to the family as a whole, individual counseling to each member of the family, or couples counseling for the parents in the family.

Likewise, family social workers often help family members build skills, such as improving their communication skills or teaching parents more effective strategies for managing their kids’ behavior. Click here to read more and learn how to become a family social worker.

Forensic Social Worker

Forensic social workers specialize in working within the legal system. In that context, they fulfill a number of duties, including serving as expert witnesses, consulting with law enforcement agencies, preparing witnesses for court, and evaluating and diagnosing defendants for mental disorders. Furthermore, forensic social workers typically connect defendants with community resources, advocate on behalf of victims, and provide training and resources to law enforcement agencies. Click here to read more and learn how to become a forensic social worker.

Geriatric Social Worker

Since aging can be a difficult process, geriatric social workers are tasked with assisting older clients with transitioning into late adulthood with the greatest ease possible. This includes helping older persons to find adequate health care, such as a live-in nurse, assisting them in finding ways to stretch a limited income further, and helping them find social activities that connect them with other older people in order to combat loneliness.

Geriatric social workers often work with the families of older persons to help inform them of the resources at their disposal for their loved one. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a geriatric social worker.

Health Social Worker

In most cases, health social workers are employed in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities where they serve as a patient liaison. In that capacity, health social workers not only try to organize services for their clients – such as ensuring that medical procedures are planned and scheduled in a timely manner – but they also often help clients who are at the end of their lives to plan and prepare, such as making advanced directives regarding resuscitation. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a health social worker.

Hospital Social Worker

Hospital social workers, otherwise known as medical social workers, have many of the same roles and functions as health social workers. Additionally, in the hospital setting, these social workers often advocate on behalf of their clients, such as ensuring they receive culturally or religiously appropriate care. Likewise, hospital social workers educate patients about the health care process, provide mental health care services like counseling, and work with families that have lost a loved one to comfort them and help them express their grief. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a hospital social worker.

International Social Worker

Working as an international social worker involves job duties such as promoting social change through advocacy for marginalized populations, promoting social cohesion through education, and empowering people with information so social change can happen. Furthermore, these social workers are typically heavily focused on social justice issues and promoting equality while fighting oppression. Click here for salary information and learn how to become an international social worker.

Military Social Worker

Military social workers provide assistance to active-duty and retired members of the military as well as their families. In addition to traditional social work activities like connecting military veterans with job assistance programs, military social workers often reach out to families of deployed soldiers to help them deal with the anxiety that comes with having a loved one leaving for a long period of time.

These social workers also often specialize in treating veterans that have post-traumatic stress disorder and helping them to overcome the ill-effects of experiencing trauma while serving. Click here to read more and learn how to become a military social worker.

Outreach Worker

Typically, an outreach worker’s job revolves around providing in-home services to their clients. That is, rather than spending most of their days in an office setting, outreach workers typically go to their clients’ homes to discuss goals, elaborate on resources that are available, and otherwise offer support to people in need.

In some cases, outreach workers work primarily with individuals that have a mental disability, though in other cases outreach workers specialize in other communities, such as families, children, and victims of domestic violence. Click here to read more and learn how to become an outreach worker.

Public Health Social Worker

The main duty of a public health social worker is to raise awareness among certain populations of health dangers and risks. This is done first by researching health-related matters that negatively impact certain groups of people, devising strategies for addressing the problem, and putting interventions in place to bring about positive change. For example, a public health social worker might design and implement a program that helps drug-addicted youth stay clean and avoid relapse. Click here to read more and learn how to become a public health social worker.

School Social Worker

School social workers usually specialize in providing services to special needs students, though in some cases they might work with general education populations as well. In the context of a school setting, social workers strive to facilitate the social, emotional, behavioral, and academic development of students.

School social workers work closely with teachers, administrators, and parents to identify resources for the child and develop short-term and long-term goals. They often act as an advocate for children as well. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a school social worker.

Social Services Director

Social services directors work in a variety of settings – from non-profit agencies to nursing homes to government agencies. In that capacity, they are responsible for overseeing outreach and educational programs that help connect members of the community with the resources they need to live healthy lives. For example, a social services director for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would act as a liaison between the VA and the veterans it serves. They might promote VA programs that focus on mental health, provide educational opportunities to veterans, or oversee outreach programs to homeless veterans. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a social services director.

Social Work Assistant

Social work assistants work under the direction of a social worker to provide any number of services to clients. This might include helping disabled clients to bathe and take care of other activities of daily living, coordinate services like food stamps or welfare for clients, or coach clients on skill-building, like parenting skills or interview skills for employment. Social work assistants perform these tasks with a variety of populations, including the elderly, the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, and families. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a social work assistant.

Substance Abuse Social Worker

Substance abuse social workers play a critical role in helping people overcome an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Their job begins by assessing the client to determine their level of addiction and developing a treatment plan that specifically addresses each client’s needs.

Counseling is usually part of a substance abuse social worker’s job description. Likewise, many workers in this field coach their clients on topics such as healthy living habits and improved refusal skills. Click here for salary  information and learn how to become a substance abuse social worker.

Trauma Social Worker

Trauma social workers specialize in addressing the unique needs of clients that have suffered a physical, mental, or emotional trauma. In addition to providing mental health assessments, evaluations, and counseling, trauma social workers also support their clients in connecting with resources that will facilitate positive growth. For example, a social worker in this field would recommend different trauma-related groups for their client to attend and work on skill-building exercises that help the trauma victim feel safe and confident.

As another example, trauma social workers might offer short-term emergency services to victims of accidents or natural disasters to help them cope with the traumas they have experienced. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a trauma social worker.

Youth Social Worker

Youth social workers work exclusively with children and adolescents with a focus on helping kids improve their lives from a social, emotional, educational and behavioral standpoint. For example, a youth social worker might be called in to evaluate a child that’s having difficulty in school. As part of that process, youth social workers seek to develop rapport with children in order to build a trusting relationship in which they can assess the child’s needs.

Likewise, youth social workers often work with children that have been abused or neglected in some way, and as such, they usually provide counseling services and other interventions to help the child heal from the experiences of victimization. Click here for salary information and learn how to become a youth social worker.

What are the Pros and Cons of an MSW (Master of Social Work) Degree?

Being a social worker is a great career and one that you can begin with just a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree.

But if you want to advance your career and qualify for positions with greater responsibilities and higher pay, a master of social work is necessary. Is the added time and money needed to get an MSW worth it, though?

Let’s examine some of the pros and cons of earning an Master of Social Work (MSW) degree to see if it’s the right decision for your future.

Pros of an MSW Degree

You Can Be Licensed

Practicing as a social worker requires that you have a state license. But, to be licensed, you must have a master’s degree (and fulfill other requirements, like passing a licensure exam and completing supervised practice hours).

With an MSW to your name, you can be licensed and provide a wide array of services to clients in need. You’ll be able to assess your clients’ problems, provide diagnoses, and design treatments as well.

A Graduate Degree Earns You Respect

Having a master’s degree demonstrates to others that you’ve put in the time and effort to get the necessary training to do your job well. This is important for work as a professional, but it’s also important to your clients – they want the best care, and with an MSW, you’ll have the tools you need to administer top-notch services.

You Can Work With Many Types of Clients

Getting an MSW requires that you master a wide range of skills that allow you to work with many different clients.

For example, you’ll learn therapeutic techniques that enable you to provide counseling services to clients with mental disorders. Likewise, you’ll learn how to advocate for your clients, which can help you connect them with services like financial assistance, job assistance, housing, and so forth.

Social workers with an MSW can work with kids, the elderly, couples and families, and even people that are incarcerated. The specialized training you get in a graduate program gives you the tools you need to pursue the niche that best fits your interests.

The Skills You Learn are Immediately Applicable to the Workplace

There are many classroom courses you must complete to finish an MSW program. However, there is also a significant field experience component, usually in the form of an internship.

MSW programs vary in terms of the internship length. But the purpose of these programs is the same – to give you real-world experience in applying what you’ve learned with real clients. This makes you immediately employable upon graduation.

Master’s-Level Social Workers Have More Job Options

With a master’s degree, you will qualify for many more positions (and varied positions, too) than you would if you just have a master’s degree.

For example, an MSW would qualify you to be a school social worker, a medical social worker, or a clinical social worker. Other options include:

  • Forensic social worker
  • Child welfare social worker
  • Pediatric social worker
  • Geriatric social worker
  • Palliative and hospice social worker

There are many other options, but you get the point – with a master’s degree, your job options are much greater.

An MSW Gives You Greater Job Security

Since an MSW is an advanced degree, you’ll have higher-level knowledge and skills in social work. This, in turn, makes you a more valuable asset and can help ensure your long-term job security.

Of course, being a good social worker isn’t just about having knowledge and skills. You must also be an effective social worker – which is something else you learn in an MSW program!

An MSW Better Prepares You to Help Others

One of the best parts of being a social worker is that you’re in a position to help people in need. With MSW training, you’ll have a much larger toolkit and skill set for helping others.

Master’s-level courses dive deeper into subjects and help you develop more robust skills. This makes MSW graduates all the more ready to provide assistance to a wide range of clientele.

Social Workers are in Need

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the need for social workers will grow by 12 percent through the end of the decade, which is faster than average. By pursuing an MSW, you’ll position yourself to take advantage of a growing field and might even be able to have your pick of multiple job offers!

Cons of an MSW Degree

There is a Significant Time Investment

Most MSW programs are at least two years in length. Some last up to four years. There are substantial classroom learning requirements as well as a practicum or internship experience that’s usually around 1,000 hours in length.

So, after four years to complete your undergraduate degree, you can expect as much as another four years of rigorous, high-level learning before you graduate with your MSW.

Master’s Degree Programs aren’t Cheap

Time isn’t the only investment you have to make in a graduate program – there’s the money issue, too.

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a master’s degree in the United States is $66,340. But for MSW programs, the average expense is even higher at $75,100.

You’ll need to weigh the financial benefits of having a master’s degree with the expenses you’ll incur to complete the program.

Pay Isn’t That Great

Another part of the equation is the fact that people with an MSW don’t make that much compared to other workers with similar master’s degrees.

According to a study by the BLS, the average salary for a social worker in 2021 was $61,190. Compare that to a median annual wage for psychologists that exceeds $81,000.

Now, the pay for social workers reaches into the $80,000 range. Still, the highest-paid social workers only make what the median income is for psychologists.

Work isn’t just about money, though. As noted earlier, this job comes with many benefits, not the least of which is being able to help people in need. If you have a strong desire to help others, getting an MSW is a great way to gain the necessary skills.

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