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Social Work

Earnings Potential

Median annual earnings of child, family, and school social workers were $34,820 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $27,840 and $45,140. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,130, and the top 10 percent earned more than $57,860.

Facts at a glance

  • About 9 out of 10 jobs were in health care and social assistance industries, as well as State and local government agencies.
  • While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, a master’s degree in social work or a related field has become the standard for many positions.
  • Employment is projected to grow faster than average.
  • Competition for jobs is expected in cities, but opportunities should be good in rural areas.

Summary of what this career entails

The most important part of being a social worker is a willingness to help people make their lives better. A social worker helps people deal with the circumstances in his/her life. Social workers often work in places of health care. Because of the need to cut costs, the health care centers will focus on shorter term intervention.

Examples and or details of work

A social worker often works with children and families. Working with children is often a key responsibility of a social worker.  Many times a family will come to a social worker because there is abuse, physical or mental going on within the household. He/she must also be able to analyze to some extent the mental or emotional capacity of the patient(s) in order to decide a course of action. A social worker is often working with people that are in the worst of situations and not only that he/she may be working with someone that is reluctant to get help. For example, someone that is pressured to be there for family reasons or even a court order is obviously a harder person to work with. On a similar note, one issue that makes the job of a social worker difficult is dealing with abusive people.  Social workers also do research on issues that would affect their clients; an example is the effect of television on kids and how to limit it.  A social worker also works to promote tolerance in terms of racism and sexism.

Degrees that lead to this career

Degrees needed for a career in social work include social work, psychology, sociology, human services, gerontology, counseling, and rehabilitation. For individuals already in the field of social work, there are certifications including the Academy of Certified Social Workers.

Specific Career openings in this field

Specific careers in the social work field include child, family, and school social worker, medical and public health social worker, mental health and substance abuse social worker, social work planners and policy makers, counselor, social and human services assistance, and senior case manager.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2006-07 Edition, Social Assistance, Except Child Day Care, on the Internet at

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at  (visited November 06, 2006).

“Kids and TV: Researchers Urge Parents to Cut Back and Offer to Pull the Plug.” RTI International Social Work Today. Social Work Today E-Zine. 6 November 2006. 6 November 2006.