For individuals who care deeply for people and take pleasure in assisting them through difficult financial, medical, mental health or relational circumstances, a career in the social work industry may be a rewarding profession for them to choose.  While friends and family can always be helpful when challenges arise, social workers are specifically trained with skills to help everyone from children to the elderly with problems than can range from mental health concerns to working through care coordination questions during a hospital stay.

Careers In Social Work

Social work developed as a career in the late 1800’s as an offshoot of counselors who worked with those who were impoverished.  Today, the social work industry has increased in sophistication and is focused on scientific research and social issues as well as personal counseling for people of all statuses.  There are many work specializations for social workers, including:

  • Counseling-focused social workers have the important responsibility of making a difference in the lives of their clients by helping them overcome emotional, relational, health or economic issues.
  • Social work has a place in the government as well, as social work planners help to develop programs that deal with societal issues head on by assisting policy makers and law makers.
  • Social workers in schools help students navigate their way through issues with alcohol and drug abuse, violence and sexual development issues.  Many times, school social workers spend much of their time counseling teens by listening and offering possible solutions as well as providing referrals for those with the most severe issues.

Clearly, there are a wide variety of applications for a graduate holding a social work degree.

Trends In the Social Work Industry

Social work is a rapidly developing field, responding to the current changes in economics, living standards, and education.  Social work students may study a range of topics from violence to assisting impoverished children.  During the last forty years, social workers have focused on a holistic approach to solving an individual’s problems, looking at factors ranging from school and home environment to concerns about mental health issues.  This holistic approach is allowing social workers to better respond to a client’s entire environment, making evaluation and treatments more effective for the individual and the family.

Specialties In the Social Work Industry

Social workers have many options of where to specialize and in what type of environment to practice. While some social workers prefer to work with children, others may specialize in post-traumatic stress disorder in trauma victims and military veterans. Others may choose to focus on substance abuse and prevention, violence, and general mental health issues.  Some social workers operate as case managers in hospitals, working with the medical staff to coordinate care, billing, and outside services.  Other social workers prefer a career in the non-profit, school or government sector by doing research or helping those with specific problems such as epilepsy or learning disabilities.

Employment Facts About Social Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social work industry is on a path for rapid expansion between now and 2014 due to the amount of Baby Boomers entering their retirement years who may be needing extra care.  In addition, social workers are more in demand than ever in healthcare environments due to the changes in reimbursement, medical record requirements and shorter hospital stays.  Depending on the environment in which a social worker is employed and their level of education, salaries can range from $25,000 per year to $75,000 per year depending on the level of experience and responsibility.

Choosing Social Work

A career in social work can be a rewarding and fulfilling job.  With a variety of work environment options, an increasing need for more social workers in years to come, as well as many areas to specialize in, social workers can expect to have a vibrant career over the long term.

BIO- Pete Kontakos is a contributor that discusses online colleges and supply chain management certificate programs.

Stay Connected

Join over 100,000 of your peers and receive our weekly newsletter which features the top trends, news and expert analysis to help keep you ahead of the curve