Social work jobs require dedication and passion to help clients manage and overcome various challenges.
There are many different types of social workers, and professionals working in social work fields typically need a relevant degree. An associate degree can lead to assistant social work positions, though many social work careers require a master's degree.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education qualify for generalist social work jobs with individuals, families, and communities. Professionals interested in advancing their careers can pursue a master of social work, which expands job opportunities and salary potential. The following list outlines 10 social work careers ranked by earning potential.
The 10 Best Social Work Jobs
The 10 Best Social Work Jobs
Social and Community Service Managers
Social and community service managers supervise and coordinate service programs to support communities. Typical duties include collaborating with community stakeholders to identify needs, analyzing data to determine the effectiveness of initiatives, writing proposals for funding, and suggesting plans for improvement.
These professionals need active listening, communication, and complex problem-solving skills. This role typically requires a bachelor's degree and related experience. However, employers value candidates with advanced degrees.
Social Work Teachers
Social work teachers develop instructional plans and educate students. They may deliver lectures, design assignments, and assess student work. They may also conduct their own research and publish their findings in scholarly publications.
Social work teachers need strong communication and public speaking skills. Professionals with a master's degree may pursue postsecondary teaching positions at community colleges, but full-time professors at four-year institutions typically need a doctoral degree.
School and Career Counselors
School and career counselors evaluate student abilities, identify issues that affect student performance, collaborate with students' families and educators, and maintain detailed student records. They also help students build social and academic skills.
These professionals need active listening skills, social perceptiveness, and strong interpersonal skills. Employers typically require a master's degree for counseling positions, and some states may also require a license.
Healthcare Social Workers
Healthcare social workers focus on the health and wellbeing of communities, often working for government agencies. They may help connect clients with healthcare resources, develop progress reports, and deliver speeches at public events. They may also interview leaders to fully understand the needs of their communities.
These professionals need strong communication and organizational skills. They also typically need at least a bachelor's degree, though many employers prefer a master's degree.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with formerly and currently incarcerated individuals, respectively. They evaluate client progress, connect clients with community resources, and perform drug tests.
These careers require excellent critical thinking, decision-making, and organizational skills. Employers typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree, pass a competency exam, and complete a background check.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists help couples and families manage and overcome challenges in their relationships. They encourage clients to openly discuss their issues, help clients process difficult experiences and changes in their lives, and connect clients with outside resources.
This role requires compassion, interpersonal skills, active listening, and organization. These professionals typically need at least a master's degree and a license to practice.
Social workers help people overcome daily challenges and manage mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. They assess client needs, determine appropriate goals for clients, connect clients with community resources, and respond to crisis situations.
These professionals need strong communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Entry-level and direct-service social workers need at least a bachelor's degree to practice, while clinical social workers need a master's degree.
Health educators focus on educating individuals and communities on health-related topics. They assess community needs, develop programs and events to teach health topics, evaluate program effectiveness, and process data to assess the impact of services.
The best candidates have excellent analytical, instructional, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills. These professionals typically need at least a bachelor's degree.
Mental Health Social Workers
These practitioners support clients with mental health issues. They develop treatment plans, help clients identify negative behaviors and develop coping strategies, and educate clients' family members about emotional and behavior disorders.
Like most other social work fields, this type of social worker needs compassion and empathy. They must also possess active listening, critical thinking, and observational skills. This role requires a bachelor's degree at minimum, though most careers require a master's degree and a state license.
Substance Abuse Counselors
Social workers who specialize in addiction are called substance abuse counselors. These professionals work with individuals and groups, helping clients cope with stress and addiction. They may help clients establish healthy relationships, reestablish their careers, and overcome the daily challenges of addiction.
These professionals need empathy, compassion, and social perceptiveness. They also benefit from strong communication and interpersonal skills. Most jobs in this field require at least a bachelor's degree, though some employers may require an advanced degree.