Social work is a rewarding path for those seeking purpose-driven work. From being an advocate for children in foster care to helping veterans connect to services, one can find countless opportunities in the field of social work.
In today's article, we'll discuss how the demand for social workers is continuing to grow today, as well as which states show the most promising opportunities in the U.S. Read on to learn more.
Oregon is among the leading states showing an increased demand for social workers. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates a 15% growth in social work positions by 2028.
A significant reason for this demand is an influx of new residents to Portland and other metro areas. Oregon's population grew by 10.6% from 2010 to 2020, exceeding the 7.4% national growth rate during that period. With population growth comes the need for additional supportive services.
The demand for social workers in Oregon results in pay for practitioners above the national average. Social work professionals earn an average of $64,696, with the top 10% of earners averaging $93,000 per year.
Social work vacancies are expected to grow 17% by 2028, according to the DOL. Connecticut's proximity to New York and Massachusetts, along with recent population growth, fuel an increased need for social workers.
Consistent demand for social workers leads to decent compensation for practitioners. The average salary for a Connecticut social worker is $65,190. The top 10% of earners in Connecticut earn $101,000 on average, among the highest salary averages in the country.
New Hampshire's demand for social workers makes the state a good option for recent graduates. The DOL anticipates a 16% growth in social work roles by 2028, adding 320 positions during that period.
Social workers in New Hampshire earn an average salary of $59,208. Experienced practitioners make a median salary of $89,000 per year.
Long-term shifts in demographics have shown an increase in demand for social workers in Alaska.
The state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development projects a doubling of senior citizens by 2030. An aging population plus modest population growth leading to a pressing need for practitioners.
The DOL estimates a 13% growth in social work positions for Alaska by 2028. The typical social worker in Alaska earns $68,225 per year, with the highest earners averaging $92,000. Service providers pay premium salaries to fill jobs in far-flung communities across the country's largest state.
Social work practitioners in California assist with varying challenges.
California's vast economic landscape shows a disproportion of wealth and wage inequality—fueling the need for supportive services and increased demand for social workers.
California also represents one-eighth of the nation's population and is ranked by the U.S. News & World Report as the most diverse state in the country.
An estimated 11% growth in social work jobs makes California a top state for practitioners. Social workers earn $61,021 per year, with top earners receiving a median salary of $97,000.
From 2010 to 2021, Nevada's population grew by 15%.
The U.S. Census Bureau also shows a 68.8% diversity index for Nevada, making it the third-most diverse state in the country.
This growing, culturally rich state faces widening income inequality as household incomes fall due to rising expenses. In turn, social workers are in need to connect low-income individuals and families to essential services.
Projected growth in social work positions by 2028 for Nevada matches the 17% projection for the United States. Practitioners in the state earn an average of $65,527 with a high-earner average of $102,000.
Washington's population grew 13.2% between 2010 and 2020. This growth will exacerbate existing inequalities without interventions by social workers.
U.S. News & World Report ranked Washington No. 45 in labor participation gap by gender and No. 33 in income gap by gender.
The DOL estimates an 13% growth in social work vacancies across Washington by 2028—a faster rate than average. The typical social worker can expect to earn around $58,221 per year with the potential for upwards of $78,000.
Tennessee service providers need social workers to fill longstanding staff shortages.
A 2021 survey by the state's Department of Children found high caseloads and overworked staffers. Social work graduates can step in to help their more experienced colleagues and better serve vulnerable populations.
Low-income families and children in foster care are particularly in need in the state of Tennessee. In 2020, over 415,000 children were in the system and needed services.
Social workers in Tennessee earn an average of $53,341, including an $89,000 average for top earners. A projected 17% growth in social work positions by 2028 coincides with an 8.9% increase in population over the past decade.
An 18.2% poverty rate and a 63% diversity index rating drive New Mexico's need for culturally competent practitioners to serve as advocates and service connectors.
In New Mexico, social workers are also crucial to mitigate the state's rising drug addiction rates and crime rates, which are currently more than double the national rate.
The DOL estimates a 9% growth in social work jobs in the state by 2028. Social workers can expect to make an average of $54,070 in New Mexico, potentially earning $85,000 depending on credentials.
Utah will have a high demand for social workers through 2028, with an estimated 31% growth in available positions.
The growth comes from a decade-long collaboration between private and public stakeholders to fund social services. Social workers are integrated throughout student lives to improve outcomes by adulthood.
Private and public employers anticipate vacancies after the state's population grew 16% over ten years. The average salary for a social worker in Utah is $55,021, with high earners averaging $78,000.
Social workers in Louisiana can earn up to $91,000 per year, with the typical practitioner earning $54,608. The state also shows a promising job growth rate, with the DOL anticipating a 23% increase in social work positions through 2028.
This demand stems from the state's effort to reduce a 19% poverty rate and a 26% child poverty rate. Louisiana also holds the third-highest Gini coefficient score—a measurement of income inequality among states in the U.S.
In Louisiana, social workers help bridge gaps in low-income neighborhoods and connect individuals, families and children to necessary services.
A 13.9% growth in population since 2010 and a 61.5% diversity index score contribute to a social work boom in Arizona. Demographic factors collide with a 42% turnover rate and 7.4% full-time vacancy rate to generate demand for practitioners.
Social work jobs are expected to grow 31% by 2028, nearly doubling the 17% national estimate. The demand for social workers in Arizona contributes to a $92,000 average for experienced practitioners.
Considered a "paradise" state, Hawaii is beaming with cultural diversity; it is dubbed as the most diverse state in the United States with a 76% diversity index score for its population.
Ranked among U.S. News & World Report's Best States for Equality, Hawaii is like any other state, however, with its areas of need—including a No. 35 ranking in education gap by race.
Social workers are in demand to help administer early interventions and other services for clients across age, race, and ethnicity.
The DOL estimates a 10% growth in job openings, with practitioners earning $63,390 per year on average.
By 2028, the demand for social workers in Delaware is expected to grow steadily.
An estimated 12% growth in social service positions offers opportunities in a growing state. Social workers earn an average of $55,444 per year with the potential to increase earnings with additional education.
The state ranks No. 14 in the Best States for Equality list from the U.S. News & World Report and a No. 41 ranking in employment gap by disability status.
Social workers are in demand to help reduce Delaware's education and employment gaps.
Known as the "Lone Star State," the population of Texas grew 15.3% from 2010 to 2020, adding to an already large and diverse population.
Economic growth has not filtered through the entire population of Texas, though, with the state ranked at No. 8 in the Gini coefficient. Income inequality has allowed educational, employment, and health challenges to persist.
Due to rising disparities, social workers needed to serve the state's vast rural and urban communities.
Meet the Demand for Social Workers
Social workers advocate for today's most vulnerable populations, working across schools, hospitals, nonprofits and more. Demand for social workers is expected to grow based on social service expansion at the local and state level.
A bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) will prepare you to meet the diverse needs of our country's growing population. You'll also enjoy a career path that is intrinsically rewarding as you help others improve their quality of life.
Spring Arbor University's online BSW program is designed for those who want to lead a professionally rewarding life. As an online BSW student, you'll enjoy flexibility, learn how to share your passion with the world and be mentored by seasoned faculty.
SAU's online BSW program blends hands-on learning with academic rigor to prepare you to take on challenges in the real world. Fulfill your calling to serve and be supported—every step of the way.