What Social Workers Do

Social workers help communities get access to the health or social services that they need, improving or providing those services where they are not already in place. They participate in legislation and help families and individuals get access to counseling and psychotherapy when necessary. Social workers are essential social, economic voices and advocates who work on behalf of those facing physical and mental illness, disability, divorce, loss, unemployment, abuse, addiction, and other daunting life challenges.

Types of Work Environments

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Mental health institutions
  • Senior centers
  • Prisons
  • Military
  • Corporations

Education and Training Requirements

Many students will pursue a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from an accredited university. However, if you have a bachelor's degree in another area of study it is still possible to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW), a Doctorate in Social Work (DSW), or a PhD. These degrees are a mix of classroom-based study and field experience. With a BSW it is possible to hold entry-level positions as a mental health assistant, residential counselor, or a program coordinator, but you must have a graduate-level degree in social work to practice.

Social workers must also be licensed in order to practice. The licensing requirements vary from state to state. For more information concerning education and licensing visit beasocialworker.org.


According to salary.com, the median salary for social workers is approximately $65,668 per year.

Professional Organization

The National Association of Social Workers

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