Social Work Jobs: Today's Top 15

social work jobs
social work jobs

Social work jobs offer Bachelor of Social Work degree holders the opportunity to live your passion if you feel called to help others improve the quality of their lives.

Social workers provide care where it's needed most and contribute to the growth of communities at large. The formal discipline of social work is continually developing in response to modern society changes. Social workers are stepping forward for an even more significant impact.

This article takes a look at some of today's top social work jobs, so you can understand the ways you can make a difference.

Earning a BSW is your first step toward the social work jobs that we've listed below.


social work jobs found

Where Are Social Work Jobs Found?

Social work jobs can be found in a wide variety of settings, offering aid in different capacities. The role of the social worker is vital for:

  • Hospitals
  • Community centers
  • Native communities
  • Prisons
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Religious institutions
  • Government
  • Private industries
  • VA centers
  • Homeless care outreaches
  • Domestic violence shelters
  • Career centers
  • Mental health/crisis centers
  • Schools and universities
  • Corporations

Whatever your area of interest, you can find ample opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people's lives.

Much of the expected growth in social work jobs projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is related to changes in America's population and demographics.

For example, as Baby Boomers age and their needs become more complex, the demand for medical and social health networks increases. Additionally, as communities grow and become more diverse, culturally-competent professionals will be sought after to provide services where needed.


social work jobs types

Types of Social Work Jobs

Typing "social work" into any job listing service will bring up a host of different social work jobs. Some examples include:

  • Case Manager
  • Care Coordinator
  • Counselor
  • Therapist
  • Educator
  • Outreach Coordinator

These job titles may be applied to many different social work fields, which we'll address later on.

While specialized social work jobs may require additional certifications, a BSW offers a broad understanding of foundational social work practices. This degree prepares students for many positions, such as casework or placement, helping graduates earn practical experience working with clients.

Social Worker Wages

The BLS indicates that over 713,000 social workers serve in the US. The profession's 13 percent growth rate for 2019–29 far exceeds the national average.

According to the BLS, the median salary for social work jobs nationally is $50,470. The earning potential is higher in Michigan, where the median salary is $56,150.

In many cases, wages for entry-level social work jobs tend to be modest. At the same time, senior positions are much higher, based on experience and credentials. The highest-paid 10% of social workers earn more than $82,000 annually.


social work jobs right for you

Which Social Work Jobs Are Right for You?

To thrive in social work jobs, you must have a genuine passion for helping others, empathy, and the ability to carry out work professionally.

While social workers can adhere to any religious creed, at Spring Arbor University, our teaching is informed by Christian humanitarian principles to enrichen your development.

In our view, Christ was the original social worker, and we feel that the love and compassion inherent to His actions provide an ideal model for the social worker of today.

Our curriculum considers historical and modern techniques, providing students with a secular intellectual education augmented by a spiritual core.

We honor Christ's teachings; "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3–12). If you feel called to spread light to those in need, then you'll find social work an incredibly rewarding career.


top 15 social work jobs

Today's Top 15 Social Work Jobs

When it comes to opportunities for social work jobs, graduates with a BSW have good prospects. A social work degree is versatile: it opens access to a wide breadth of career options, from working directly with clients to advocating for disadvantaged communities.

Obtaining your BSW online will allow you to complete coursework around your schedule and expand your hiring potential.

Social workers with BSWs from accredited programs, like Spring Arbor, are being hired for jobs in some of today's most exciting areas of social justice. While some social work jobs require a master's degree, a BSW sets you on the career path.

1. Healthcare Social Worker

When individuals and families face the many complexities created by physical illness, healthcare social workers are there to provide compassionate, expert support.

A healthcare social worker handles administrative matters such as coordinating insurance benefits, advance care directives or discharge procedures. Healthcare social workers also provide counseling and assessments to ensure comprehensive care.

The BLS reports that more than one-fourth of all social workers are employed in healthcare roles. Most of these professionals work in hospitals or ambulatory healthcare services such as physicians' offices or outpatient care centers.

Other employers for healthcare social work jobs include residential nursing facilities, social assistance organizations and government entities. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for healthcare social workers is $56,750.

2. Veteran Social Worker

The US Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes the critical roles of social workers in serving veterans' multi-faceted needs. Social workers evaluate cases, provide preventative and therapeutic care and connect veterans with resources.

Services range from administrative referrals to counseling to aid with long-term planning. Veteran social workers are also engaged in community outreach and family support.

According to PayScale, the average salary for a social worker with the US Veterans Administration is $64,449. VA employees work in facilities across the country and enjoy federal benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.


social community service manager

3. Social and Community Service Manager

Serving public interests in various settings, social and community service managers offer programs that foster the good of the community.

These roles involve communication with local leaders and citizens and administrative functions in developing and analyzing initiatives.

Social and community service managers may specialize in certain areas of need, such as substance abuse or homelessness, or an identified population, like children or elderly adults. Social workers will often lead to programs for addressing racial inequities and promoting cultural diversity and inclusion.

Social and community service managers' role is one of the fastest-growing areas in social work jobs and has relatively high earning potential.

BLS reports that the median annual salary for community service manager positions is $67,150. Employment should also increase by 17% through 2029.

Those interested in the local government will find some of the highest-paying jobs, where the median salary is $85,500 annually.

Religious and other non-profit organizations also hire social and community social managers.

4. Adoption Social Worker

Social workers passionate about child welfare may choose to specialize in adoption, helping to place at-risk children in forever families. Adoption social workers typically find social work jobs in local government agencies and private adoption organizations.

Serving both birth families and adoptive families, adoption social workers conduct assessments and home studies to evaluate potential placements. They offer counseling and education for adoptive parents and coordinate services and available resources.

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for an adoption social worker is $49,450. Experienced adoption social workers may advance in their careers to lead in developing and administering programs and services for adoptive families.


gerontological social worker

5. Gerontological Social Worker

The US Census reports that by 2034, for the first time in history, the number of adults aged 65 and older will be higher than younger populations under the age of 18. With this "graying of America" will come new social challenges, since aging brings medical and quality of life issues.

Gerontological social workers can expect a bright outlook and busy day-to-day. Their tasks to provide compassionate care to the elderly may include:

  • Coordinating health care and mental health care services
  • Providing resources for independent living
  • Assisting with residential transitions
  • Working with family members and a team of professionals

Gerontological social workers will find social work jobs with government agencies, community organizations and residential care facilities.

We can also expect a surge of openings in nursing homes and community centers with programming for at-risk or isolated seniors.

The average salary for a gerontological social worker, according to PayScale, is $50,000. Job opportunities will vary with experience and educational levels.

6. School Social Worker

School social workers are those who work with children or young adults in an educational setting. In this role, you'll assist children and young adults with their academic success, long-term goals and any challenges faced throughout their school years.

According to the BLS, the median annual income for a child, family, and school social worker is $47,390. Your salary will vary based on location, the specific school you work at, in addition to your work experience.

7. Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors assist men, women, and teenagers who need to address addiction or substance abuse behavior.

The average compensation for a substance abuse counselor is roughly $39,721 per year, according to PayScale. Still, the ability to help individuals recover from substance abuse is itself a reward.

A counselor helps individuals focus on their long-term goals and provides the tools needed to avoid drugs or alcohol in the future. Responsibilities vary but typically include working very closely with the client to implement healthy coping strategies during individual and group sessions.


clinical mental health social worker

8. Clinical Mental Health Social Worker

Generally, a clinical social worker helps men, women and children in a medical or a therapeutic setting. In clinical social work jobs, you may work directly with the client to develop personal goals or start addressing complications in their lifestyle.

Since a master's degree in social work is required to be a clinical social worker, getting a BSW is the first step. According to PayScale, the average income of a clinical social worker is roughly $56,914 per year. However, clinical social workers in the highest range earn more than $78,00 annually.

Clinical social workers can provide therapeutic services to children, youth, adults, and the elderly. They have the knowledge and skills to provide individual, family, or group therapy. They're also equipped to work within systems to provide appropriate resources or referrals to their clients.

9. Child and Family Social Worker

Child and family social workers work with families in need to promote health and well-being. In this role, you may work with low-income parents to identify self-sufficiency needs and help establish a long-term plan to accomplish specific goals.

A child and family social worker identifies children at risk of abuse or neglect and ensures safety. Social work jobs in this area may task you to find foster families for children while providing resources to improve their emotional well-being, academic performance, and meet other needs.

Child and family social workers often have a role in serving as court advocates. They may even help arrange adoptions for children. The specific job responsibilities vary based on the needs of the children and families involved.

According to the BLS, the median income for a child and family social worker is roughly $47,390 per year.


corporate social worker

10. Corporate Social Worker

As businesses increasingly recognize the importance of corporate social responsibility, there is a growing trend of adding social workers to corporate settings. These roles range in their title, but may fall in line with "corporate social responsibility manager."

Many companies contribute to the betterment of their communities and the world through sustainability in manufacturing, sharing profits or resources with non-profit organizations, or creating initiatives to advance social causes.

Corporate social responsibility managers advocate for responsible practices within a company and serve as representatives of the company to the public.

These professionals identify social issues related to the company's products and services and guide leadership in implementing organizational programs at the community, national, and global levels.

Social workers who advance to the role of corporate social responsibility manager hold high-profile positions within companies. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for this management role is $81,284.

11. Hospice Social Worker

Hospice social workers provide palliative care and specialized services for patients nearing the end of life. They work in hospitals, residential care centers, hospice facilities, and home settings.

Hospice social workers advocate for their patients' final wishes while helping them and their families navigate the complex emotional aspects of late-stage and terminal illnesses.

The role may include administrative assistance related to legal paperwork, insurance benefits, or community services. The hospice social worker also collaborates with medical providers for quality care.

Social work jobs in a hospice setting can be emotionally taxing. Still, many hospice social workers derive a great sense of purpose from their work. The average salary for hospice social workers is roughly $52,007, according to PayScale.


case manager

12. Case Manager

After earning their BSW, many social workers seek social work jobs as case managers. Case managers oversee the appointments, schedules, and healthcare programs of client agencies and organizations.

The average annual income for entry-level case managers in social services is $39,086, according to PayScale. Case managers who have obtained their Master of Social Work (MSW) can expect to make up to double that income, particularly in specific medical and acute care settings.

A case manager is often a great entry-level position in social work, and the role can be found in a wide variety of settings.

13. Care Coordinator

Case managers with experience in multiple disciplines, such as social work, mental health, occupational therapy and nursing, are perfect candidates for social work jobs as care coordinators.

These social workers can expect to make a higher salary than case managers, as care coordinator positions require more experience and more responsibilities. PayScale reports the average salary for care coordinators as $44,876.


eligibility worker

14. Eligibility Worker

State or municipal organizations often employ eligibility workers. Many works directly with clients to determine if they are eligible for resources, such as subsidized housing, medical services, or food provisions. They assist with paperwork and may serve as an intermediary with other agencies.

The average salary for an eligibility worker, according to PayScale, is $41,715 annually. Eligibility workers often receive good benefits packages and work predictable hours.

15. Direct Support Professional (DSP)

DSPs are social workers who work directly with individual clients. These clients often have physical limitations, intellectual disabilities or mental health diagnoses. Many may need assistance with their autonomy to integrate into their communities.

Social work jobs for DSPs pay about $12 per hour. However, some private-paid positions offer far higher rates, depending on the social worker's responsibilities and previous experience.


non-traditional social worker jobs

Non-Traditional Jobs for Social Workers

There is a misconception that a Bachelor of Social Work is only good for one thing: social work jobs! Yet, students' curriculum and experience during a BSW program open up countless opportunities, including non-traditional social work jobs in various industries.

Five non-traditional jobs you can pursue with your online BSW include:

1. Real Estate Agent or Broker

Trust is the cornerstone of a relationship with a real estate agent. It is imperative when working with clients in a social work setting.

This parallel reveals how a social work degree could lend to a career in real estate. Building a sense of authenticity and transparency is the foundation of a good working relationship, making these two fields more similar than different.

Agents and brokers with some expertise in social work may be able to build that trust sooner. They may be able to better predict client needs than those without this experience. The work environment can be busy and diverse, differing from day-to-day.

The median annual salary for a real estate sales agent is $48,930, according to the BLS. A broker is licensed to manage their own business, and the median salary is $59,720 annually.

Although experience and region impact the salary figures, many can make over $100,000 per year.

2. Police Officer

Social work training and practice can be a big part of law enforcement, particularly when it comes to mediating disputes and de-escalating individuals in crisis. Social work studies can teach crisis response and foster empathy among all populations, powerful skillsets for anyone in law enforcement.

The median annual income for a police officer is $63,150, according to BLS data.


outdoor education instructor

3. Outdoor Education Instructor

While some individuals with a Bachelor of Social Work may find themselves behind a desk, this is certainly not the only option.

From outdoor recreation therapists to instructors, these professionals manage to merge the skill sets from a social work curriculum into sharing the love and therapeutic benefit of nature with their clients and students.

The work environment will likely attract you to this field with your online BSW since it is not a traditional social work setting. These types of positions are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who work well autonomously, but who are also influential team members.

Depending on the program or institution you work for, the median income for recreation therapists is around $48,220 based on experience and job responsibilities.

4. Sales Representative

To be a great salesperson, you must be an effective communicator; stepping from sales to social work jobs — or vice versa — is not a quantum leap.

Both fields rely heavily on exemplary communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, to reach and connect with your desired audience.

A social work degree may provide the tools needed to gain trust, establish a rapport and close the deal. Sales can be a competitive field, and it is not for the introverted or complacent.

An effective sales manager can make well over $100,000 per year, based on industry and product.

5. Marketing Strategist

Advertising and marketing professionals need to know how to communicate best and reach their desired buying audience. Social work training may give them insight into the psyche of potential patrons. They might be able to pinpoint advertising campaigns that will move and compel buyers to choose one particular product over another.

Additionally, many nonverbal communication techniques could further inspire the targeted customer, client, or consumer to act, purchase or contact a specific company. Knowledge of behavior is valuable.

If you are organized, creative, and a team player, a marketing strategy could be a good fit for you. There is significant income potential in marketing, with management positions often paying over $135,000 per year.


top social work jobs

Step Toward Today's Top Social Work Jobs

Social workers play a vital role across all areas of society, making a difference in the lives of the people they serve. You can open doors to a wide range of social work jobs with an online BSW degree from Spring Arbor University.

With coursework 100% online and no residency requirement, you can pursue your BSW degree with a flexible program that’s designed to work for you.

As an online BSW student, you’ll receive support from start to finish with a dedicated Student Success Advisor, who will help you find balance until graduation. A faculty member will also work closely with you as your mentor, shepherding you through upper-level courses and your fieldwork internship.

The online BSW program curriculum emphasizes both theory and practical skills, preparing you for a meaningful career impacting individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.


Are you ready to pursue your passion for helping others with an online BSW degree?


Read more of SAU on line's top social work blog posts below:

1. Social Work Values: What Are They?

2. Top 5 Qualities of an Effective Social Worker

3. How Do Social Workers Help Vulnerable Children?