The formal discipline of social work is a thoroughly modern profession, developed in the late 19th century in response to urbanization and the disparities between rich and poor. Social workers are part missionary, part scientist, and without their work many efforts to alleviate the plight of the disadvantaged by state and private means would be less effective. At Spring Arbor University we consider it a moral imperative to train the next generation of empathetic, ethical and innovative social workers through our online Bachelor of Social Work program. This article takes a look at the current market for social work jobs.
Where Do Social Workers Practice?
Social workers practice in a wide variety of settings. They can be found in hospitals, community centers, schools, Native communities, prisons, non-profit organizations, religious institutions, government and private industry. Depending on your area of interest, you can find ample opportunity to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
Much of the expected growth the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects is related to coming changes to America’s population and demographics. Although the trend is partially offset by immigration, America is aging rapidly. Retiring Baby Boomers will place an unprecedented strain on the nation’s medical and social health networks. This will also create a surge of openings in nursing homes and community centers with programming for at-risk or isolated seniors.
Examples of Social Work Jobs
Typing “social work” into any job listing service, such Monster or Indeed, will bring up a host of different jobs for those with their bachelor of social work. Some examples of social work jobs include:
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers
- Marriage and Family Therapists
- Rehabilitation Counselors
- Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- School and Career Counselors (Guidance Counselors)
- Social and Community Service Managers
While more specialized jobs can require further certifications, a bachelor’s degree offers a strong overview of basic concepts within the practice that will come in handy during the early years of your career. A BSW typically includes a casework or placement component, helping graduates earn practical experience working with clients.
Social Worker Wages
The BLS indicates that there over 630,000 social workers currently employed in the US, and that the profession’s 16 percent growth rate over the next eight years far exceeds the national average. According to the Economic Research Institute (ERI), in 2018 American social workers earned an average base salary of $64,730 per year ($31/hour, with bonuses of $1,249). The statistics for Michigan are in line with the national average, with ERI reporting an annual expected salary of $65,557 ($32/hour, $1,265 bonuses).
In many cases, the wages for entry-level social work jobs tend to be considerably lower than this average, while senior positions in the field trend toward $75,000 - $80,000, based on experience and credentials.
Is Social Work for You?
Social workers are a special breed. Their earnings will typically be less than those of business-focused professions, and the work can be mentally and emotionally taxing. You must have a genuine passion for helping others, and a deeply empathetic understanding of people that doesn’t interfere with your ability to carry out your work in a professional manner. While social workers can adhere to any religious creed, at Spring Arbor University, our teaching is informed by Christian humanitarian principles.
In our view, Christ was the original social worker, and we feel that the love and compassion inherent to his actions provides an ideal model for the social worker of today. Our curriculum takes into account historical and modern techniques, providing students with a secular intellectual education augmented by a spiritual core. Contact us today for a brochure to find out online BSW program information, course descriptions and more about our school.