The Five Most Popular Social Work Careers

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Social work is one of those careers in which you can truly make a difference in people’s lives. A Master of Social Work degree can open many doors and show others you have not only the knowledge and the skills, but also the compassion and dedication necessary to work in such an important field. There are many positions a graduate with an MSW degree can fulfill, but here are five of the most popular social work careers:

Medical/Public Health

Social workers who work in the medical field are always in high demand. It is projected that the number of jobs in medical/public health social work will grow by 22 percent through 2018, the highest rate in the social work field. Medical/public health social workers can work in any facility that provides care to patients, including hospitals, emergency rooms, hospices, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, assisted living facilities and home health agencies. They work with patients to ensure they are being cared for properly, facilitate communication between them and their caregivers, and assist with paperwork and decision-making.  Medical/public health social workers are advocates for patient rights and a source of comfort during difficult times. Because this is such an important area of social work, it generally pays more, with an average salary ranging from $41,000 to $58,000 annually.

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Substance Abuse

Substance abuse social workers are employed in a variety of venues, including rehabilitation facilities, prisons, private practices, for- and non-profit organizations, and juvenile detention facilities. It is known as one of the more emotionally demanding areas of social work since addiction is hard to treat. People struggling with addiction need patience and compassion, and navigating mood swings, relapses and anger require a great deal of dedication. But knowing you are helping someone in recovery and that you can play an important role in their lives is incredibly rewarding. As the legal system places greater emphasis on recovery and rehabilitation, jobs in this area are expected to grow at a rate of 20 percent through 2018. Depending on your level of experience and where you work, the average salary ranges from $29,000 to $49,000 annually.

Mental Health

While a master’s is not always required for a career in social work, it always makes you a more marketable candidate; still, one area where a master’s is required is mental health in the realm of clinical practice. Many mental health social workers provide therapy, and this requires advanced education, as well as licensure, as a clinical social worker (LCSW). As a mental health social worker – or clinical social worker – there is a diverse range of mental health services you can provide. You can work in community mental health centers, mental hospitals, private practices, hospitals and even schools. You assess your clients’ mental health, diagnose mental disorders, develop treatment plans and assist in the daily living of those with mental disorders. The average annual salary of a mental health social worker is $41,880.

Child Welfare

Child welfare is an area of social work that requires sensitivity, compassion and a love of children. Child welfare social workers provide services to children who are abused and neglected by their parents or to children from lower-income families who cannot afford to properly care for them. Many child welfare workers work with child protective services to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, and intervene when a child’s home environment is deemed unsafe. As a child welfare social worker, you would meet regularly with children and families to assess conditions in the home and report on the care a child is receiving. When a child is in danger, child welfare workers facilitate the removal of that child and place them in a safe alternative environment. The child welfare social work field is expected to grow at a rate of 12 percent through 2018, and the average salary for a child protective services worker is between $25,000 and $47,000 annually, depending on location and experience.

School Social Work

School social work is one of the more common areas in the field, and there are different capacities in which a school social worker can work. As a school social worker, you are a liaison between school and students’ families, essentially bridging children’s personal lives and education to make sure their needs are being met. You can function as a guidance counselor and also work with special needs children to facilitate their integration into mainstream classes. You are responsible for addressing a number of school issues, such as behavioral intervention programs, truancy prevention programs, sexual education, health education, crisis intervention and effective communication between parents, teachers and students. Depending on location and level of education, school social workers earn a salary ranging from $32,000 to $52,000 annually.

Tell Me More

  • Nicole

    Thank you for this list of the 5 most popular social work careers. I have a friend who just got her master’s in mental health simply because she wanted to provide therapy as a social worker in the field of mental health. Not many people know that mental health social workers must have their masters – this is spot on. She then decided to take a full time job at at UNC Chapel Hill Medical Center, but she still does the social working on the side. Definitely a fulfilling opportunity to help the community.

  • Larollinstone

    Can social workers bill medical insurance companies..and what exactly is medical and public health?

  • Angel

    Yes SW can bill medical insurance. I have my bachelors in SW about to take the test to receive my license. I also want to go into mental health, counseling, and substance abuse. I want to know if I can do it all. I’m sure one or the other will be part-time.

  • Nikkiekhhannah vijaya

    i like to do this course through on line please help me

    • Michelle Wenk

      Are you still in need of help?

    • Celia

      BU and USC have great online part time programs, USC also having a full time option. Be very careful in your research of other programs. Make sure to understand their accreditation.

      • T Wilson

        Is USC regionally and nationally accredited? I am pretty sure BU is but can’t find theat info pertaining to USC. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Burnt Out Social Worker

    Medical social work is definitely one of the higher paying social work fields. There are some drawbacks, though. In hospital settings, you essentially take a back seat to nurse case managers who 1) do not have masters degrees and 2) make double what you make despite doing the same work. Hospital settings are also quite challenging since MSW programs don’t really teach you the medical model, and often times you’ll get asked nursing questions. Having some nursing, medical, and medical terminology knowledge is a must!

    • Tim

      could you give me some tips? Im interning at a nursing home and I am on the fence

    • jayne

      It’s a shame because nursing is quite the abusive field. I dislike very much hearing that they’re taking over that arena too. They don’t have as much compassion as people think. Warning to all: don’t study nursing; don’t work in nursing.

  • lobee

    I think my interest lies in research and writing in the areas of relationships, culture, and survival. I want to write about peoples lives and their stories. I feel a background in understanding theory is important to delve into this work. I am wondering which direction I should go within the Social Work Program???Thank you

    • Celia

      You may want to pursue the doctorate in social work. You would have to get a master’s in social work first, then a license and practice for a bit, to gain experience. You may want to work for a nonprofit that allows for grant writing and some project management experience. Then you can apply to a doctorate program, where the focus is research and teaching. It pays very well, and you can focus all of your energy teaching social work at a bachelors or masters level, doing important research, and writing grants for social work development. Also, with the doctorate, you have more choice in the areas of specific research you want to pursue, and can write books and even textbooks to contribute to the growth of the field.

      • Joey

        Hi, I just came upon this thread and was hoping I could ask a few questions… I am a MSW, with my License, not my clinical license. I have been in the field for 3 years, post grad school. I have been having a hard time finding a good job. Most want someone who has a LCSW. However my current employer does not offer clinical supervision. I feel that I am in a difficult position, I would have to pay out of pocket for it, and people want a lot of money for it. I make peanuts! I have the clinical skills, and ability that other social works have to do the work. I just don’t have the clinical license. I work with one of the most difficult populations (I think): the homeless, who have DSM I diagnosis, with D &A isssues and significant forensic history. However, my resume seems to get passed up because I have been in this field for so long. Does anyone have any suggestions? Please I’m at a complete loss.

  • goodenough

    I’ve worked as a clinical social worker (MSW/LCSW) for 27 years in California, mostly in direct client services in medical centers, some community mental health case management, hospice. Now working in Public Health program administration/case management. Started in 1986 making approx. $24,000/yr, now earning $74,000/yr. Not super high pay, but not so bad either. It’s been very rewarding/challenging. There are always opportunities to continue to learn and experience the unexpected.

    • Tiffany Webb

      Hello I’m five yrs in with as a Mental health professorial I just finished my undergrad in Healthcare administration and now I’m looking to continue in this path. Currently I’m looking to enroll and complete my MSW program at University of Chicago. I’m looking for a Mentor to assist me with professorial developmental inside this field. I can be reached at please feel free to contact me.

    • kelbrown98

      I’m a student trying to get my bachelor degree in social work right now, just accepted into my universities program. I’m just curious the path you took to get to public health administration/case management. Did it require more or different schooling? Or did you get to that occupation with your social work degree? If you’re open to sharing or talking a bit about how you got where you are please contact me! I feel like social work is the right degree for me but feel lost in what direction to take it

      my email is
      I’d really appreciate the help -kelly

    • Sreelesh Ka Rex

      hi….iam sreelesh….
      now iam bsw year i will do the can you suggest a msw specialisation.
      which one is more valuable in canada?

    • jayne

      I know it’s a year since you posted this, but thank you for taking the time to show people the positive light! :) … Personally, I’m trying to figure out if Social Work is the career for me. I hope for better opportunities to those who have been struggling to find social work jobs too!

  • Debi

    Thats a really nice post describing the great information about social media work profile detail. I have found it very interesting!!
    Interview training

  • student on the way…

    yayy!! so happy im choosing social work as my career!! i know it will be a very rewarding career!! love it….grew up with family of social workers! :)

  • Cee

    I received my bsw in 2011 and I am still looking for an entry-level position. It’s frustrating b/c it seems that in order to work as a social worker or in the social service field in general, you have to have a master’s degree and years of specialized experience. When you are in school and shelling out all of that money to get the “piece of paper”, they don’t tell you about how tough it’s going to be to find work. I am now working on my master’s degree in counseling and still can’t find work. Very disenchanting to say the least

    • Dee

      I agree with you! I graduated with my BSW and went and applied at a job. Since I did not have “enough” experience so she would not hire me, but sent me to someone who was looking for a person to work for their nonprofit agency in the city I lived in. Needless to say, I have been at this job almost 6 years and I am grateful to the woman who opened the door for me, but now I am ready for bigger things. :) (In the meantime I was substituting after I got my degree to get some type of income coming in)

    • Celia

      The counseling field is becoming obsolete. Many jobs have overlapping standards and will ask for either MFTs (marriage and family therapists), LCSWs and sometimes LPCs (Licensed professional counselors). However, counselors have what is considered the lowest standards of licensing and thus get paid less. Also there is little room to grow in the field as a counselor. With the MFT, there is a higher demand, but the LCSW (MSW) is the most versatile of the licenses and degrees, and most people will choose an LCSW over an LPC or MFT because of their ability to diagnose. LCSWs can also grow in the field, becoming supervisors, grant writers and program directors. So they have more to offer in hiring. They get paid slightly more, but have more credentials. Also some states have a hard time “believing” in the MFT or LPC (southern states) because a lot of people have a hard time accepting therapeutic practices. The LCSW is the better option. They will be hired over the others and have more options, and even more so are being hired over Clinical Psychologists because the economy is so bad right now that people would prefer to pay an LCSW less to do the same thing as a clinical psychologist (which demands more money because they have a doctorate). The next step is a psychiatrist, so a company would choose to save money and pay an LCSW less than a CC and the LCSW can diagnose and refer to a psychiatrist, who can treat and prescribe meds. I know Kaiser Permanente hires Clinical Social Workers instead of Clinical Psychologists to save on cost, and still pays them well and there is room for growth. It is not too difficult to find work as an LCSW, but you need the license (an LSW or BSW or just the MSW without the license makes it difficult to find work, and the school you go to matters, because many employers want a regionally AND nationally accredited school). I hope that helps, but it is VERY difficult to find counseling positions, especially in certain states.

      • Akin

        Thanks Celia, I enjoyed your explanations on the issue of social workers.
        I am considering go for Master Clinical Psychology. By Akin

  • MsB

    I have graduated with a MSW, and have not been able to find work in the field. I graduated two years ago. Please think very, very hard about getting an MSW because work is difficult to find. I have years of volunteer experience which counts for nothing. I completed a two-year MSW degree, and have a BA in psychology. I have no experience in the field, (apart from two internships), so things may be different for individuals who already have an undergraduate degree in social work. That being said, having a graduate degree in social work has not worked for me. Universities must be forthcoming with information about the difficulties of landing a job in social work. There are too many graduates, and far too few jobs.

    • hncbama

      I have an MSW and my bachelor’s was also in Psychology. I’m not sure where you are looking, or how you are looking, but there are plenty of jobs for master level social workers. You can’t just type in the word “social work” when searching. Try using…”case management”, “social services”, “counselor”, “mental health”, etc…. I got a job 2 months after I graduated from Grad School. I’ve been there 5 years, and recently passed my LCSW exam. I am now looking for better paying/management jobs, and have found plenty.

      • Lisa

        how many have you been hired at? There are many jobs out there, but trying to obtain one is the difficulty.

        • mara

          i got my master in 04-2010 and due to my husband moving continuesly with his job I have worked in 4 different agencies. first job I made 45000. Second job in a nursing home I made 48.000, third job I made 35000 and now I am making 75000

          • SweetTea

            Hey mara are you for real??? how? and what kind of social work do you do?

          • Jackline Lekule

            MARA ,,Am looking for the job as a Social Worker plzzz give the network my dear

          • Antion

            Hi there, still looking as well.. there are too many SW out there and no jobs.. Where I live they seem to fire them constantly, so I am wondering what we need to stay in our jobs? A

          • min

            would you please help me to look for something. I graduated a year ago with my MSW and I can’t find anything. I’m working in case management but its not what I want. I also move quite often due to my husbands career. Please shoot me an email

          • Albert

            guud madam

          • Mara Lyn

            That’s wonderful I just want to share my name is Mara as well and I am going into social work. Don’t see our name often and I think it’s neat ;)

          • Valley209

            What are you doing now at a salary of 75k with a MSW? Sounds great

          • wrk2hrd

            Hi Mara,
            great positive post!

          • brownswann

            Please tell me where you found a 45000.00 and 75000.00 year job in SW

      • Ani

        Also, In what year did you graduate? Let’s face it; a 2008 graduate had a better chance at securing a job than a more recent one. 2008 was the last year before the bottom fell out hard in the job market.

      • tiffany dickerson

        Hello! My name is Tiffany and I in my senior year for my BA and I will be pursuing an MSW and after reading the information on this page receiving an LCSW may be in my plan. I could use some first hand knowledge about the field and I would love to hear about your experience thus far. If you’d be willing to I’d be honored if u emailed me so we can talk a bit. I look forward to hearing and learning from you!

        • recent grad

          Don’t do it with USC. i just graduated with my msw from there. hell on earth. the administration doesn’t know, doesn’t care. they just want your 80k without actually providing you with an education. program was a chaotic mess with limited courses. think twice about usc’s vac program. total waste of money for me.

          • Bobby Fields III

            Interesting observations, too bad you had that experience. I am graduating in May 2014 and I had a great experience overall through the Virtual Academic Center.

          • Shana Williams

            @bobbyfieldsiii:disqus Which professors would you recommend? I will be attending the Virtual Academic Center in Spring 2015. Also congrats on the degree!!

        • Meliah

          Hi Tiffany,
          I’m in a MSW program right now and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made! It is such a great program and I know there are a lot of opportunities out there. I attend IU School of Social Work and I write a blog for the school if you want to check it out.
          Let me know if you have any questions!

          • Arbesa Hyseni

            Loved your blog full of positivity. I love quotes so really enjoyed it

          • Vanessa

            Hey do you still have a blogpost? I’d be interesting in hearing about our MSW experience. Thank you!

      • Kencymarie

        Hi my name is Kency, I live in Texas, near San Antonio. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’ve been researching social work and I’m really interested in exactly what sort of work you do? It would be awesome if you would be willing to email me at Thank you!

      • mahendranath

        could you please tell me the process to go through LCSW exam..I am from A.P, qualifications are MSW,MBA,IRPM,PGDSRD.Having 5yrs experience in development sector

      • Sierra Gillespie

        Hi, I’m CeCe and I’m so lost, I really want to join this field but I’m so scared because I’ve heard so much about the lack of jobs and horrible pay. I’m a freshman in college and if you could please help me with more info that’d be great. I’m extremely interested in higher levels and positions in this field. :)

    • mara

      I m sorry you had a difficult time. I have not had much problems. I got a job the month after my msw. I quit six months after and got a job right away even though I told them I was 4 months pregnant. 6 months later my husband had to move to another state and I got a job right away. I am now in a different state and got a job right away making 75000. I am only telling you not to get discouraged. Look at your resume, and see if that might be the reason. I am truly sorry that you are having a hard time.

      • tiffany dickerson

        What do u do now making 75k?

      • Alecia Howard

        hi you haven’t been answering any specific questions…are you sure you don’t work for USC????

        • Abdus Sobhan Seikh

          Are you social worker?

      • Patti

        You are not going to get a job in an agency making $75k a year unless you are in a high administrative position; Executive Director, Assistant Executive Director, etc. Unfortunately, you are not answering questions to help people, this is suspicious. I have had LCSW for several years in NY. I have never had a problem getting a job, they are plentiful throughout the state. However, I never made decent money working for agencies, even as a supervisor. I have been in private practice now for several years and make over $100k most years.

        • kb

          You can make from 50,000/ 75,000- 80,000
          a year with your MSW, and LCSW degrees. The key is to work for the government. You can go to VA JOBS.GOV and check it out, The only catch is you have to be flexible, and might have to move to obtain a potion. Hope this helps.

      • Brittany

        Hi, my name is Brittany.. I’m interested in starting a career in social work. Can you please email me at on most information I would need to start school and what not. -xoxo Brittany

    • Ned

      Agree 100%!! Have a BSW from York U,graduated 3 years ago and worked from the factory jobs to seasonal construction,moving jobs- all temporary in order to support my family and two kids.Instead of job- got lymphoma cancer, stage 4. Thanks God-in full remission now-but…still no job in the field-only big time gap on my resume.Not giving up-still searching and applying,talking to people..cancer teached me not to give up! Even to choose a different field, opportunity come. Never give up. We are strong as long we want to help others and ourselves!

    • sstanle3

      Move to East TN, there is currently more then 30 open MSW jobs and another 40 social work jobs open. We have mild four season weather, very low crime rate, beautiful mountains, wonderful public schools, and affordable housing and utilies. I bought my 1988 2,240 ft house for $98,000 (good neighborhood) and my typical electric run $75-150, and water is $40 and county/city taxes was less then $1,000. Gas is about $3. Best of all people are friendly. Plus the VA is wonderful to work for.

      • English major

        It’s too bad that you didn’t learn much grammar and spelling along with that MSW. For instance, when talking about a plural noun, you should say “are,” not “is.” For example, “there are currently more…” Also, there is a difference between “then” and ‘than.” Again, an example from above, “…more than 30 open…,” not then.

        • taylor

          well you’re asshole material

          • Deana


        • Jonny

          Condescending Prick. Is that proper enough for you?

        • Stephanie

          SStanle3 never said that they have a MSW. They were replying to a person whom has a MSW and is having difficulties obtaining a job. You should be aware that you are an idiot for becoming an English major since you can only criticize people on the internet for their grammar.

        • babylon


        • English Majors are Losers

          How is that grammar working for you? Lots of jobs require social skills. Apparently, you didn’t learn social graces along with that BA in English. Good luck in the working world! Or, are you planning on writing the Great American Novel? So cliche! Please forgive me for omitting the accent grave, or is that aigu? You poor thing!

        • sign me retired

          good thing you’re not a social worker . You would be kicked to the curb by the population you served while trying to correct their grammar. Grow up…I have been a social worker for 30 years and have seen all kinds in society. again, grow up.

        • Copy Editor

          Your ellipses were incorrectly followed by a comma within your last quote. An English major you may be, but a copy editor you are not. :)

        • Gigi LMNOP

          ^oh, wait….did I get that wrong? I bet they still know what I’m saying. So HAH!!

      • Thomas John

        My name is Thomas, I just completed my MSW from IGNOU (an international university,in India) with 68 credit hours. please help me to know the steps to get a job.

      • Stacy Cofield

        What are salaries like there?

      • MissyMo

        I just moved to East TN and I am a single mom. I have been in the medical field for 20 years doing clerical work but I would love to go into social work. I live in Morristown very close to Knoxville, TN. Can you advise me of which school I should apply to around here where I can get a MSW? My emphasis I would really love would be to work with kids! :). Thanks.

    • Antion

      Hi Ms. B. Like you I have done pretty much the same and no prospect as of yet in finding a career. I am not sure what they all are looking for. They laid off 5 SW during my internship in one county and the next year another 10. Maybe we are not as much needed as originally thought…. I also agree that there are too many SW out there and even though one continues on to get a license, it does not help much..A

    • min

      I agree with you whole heartedly, I feel like you have just described me and my struggle looking for work in the feild. I really think it has alot to do with where you live because in california I had more opportunities then I do in florida

    • Relly Rell

      Come to Los Angeles!

      • Abdus Sobhan Seikh

        Hi, I am Abdus from India. I am really interested to do social work, Can you help me plz? I finished Masters in Social Science (Geography)

    • bluueydchick

      Not sure where you live, but I just found tons of jobs in Florida.


        Where in Florida? I graduated last year from FSU with a BSW but have not been able to find work. Consequently, I am going back to complete my MSW.

    • Mims

      Hello, I am considering a BA in Social Work, is graduate school a must?

      • Katie

        It is not a must, you can be certified as an RSW. However, if you do a BA in Social work, most graduate schools allow you to skip over the first year and jump into the second year (the last year) of your Master’s program. This would be a good option for you as it pays a lot more and you are allowed to do more things within the scope of social work with a Master’s degree (more job opportunities). You would not be able to get any higher forms of licensing (LMSW, LCSW) without a Master’s degree.

    • Yono

      Go to LA County Human Resources, there might be something for you, good luck!!

    • Ray

      The VA in Long Beach is hiring 5 new positions in SW. Go to and search social work in your area for available jobs. Good Luck!

    • Alecia Howard

      what state do you live in?

    • FootysDick Vermeil

      consider it a blessing in disguise. the field sucks people dry after a while.

      I dont know if things have changed or it’s just my school, but job placement services are almost non-existent, and the ‘practicums’ that give you real-world exp. usually offer no followup services after you leave them, save for personal contacts you make. but thats a whole other story.

      • lib

        why is that supposed to be part of the university education? duh, the personal contacts. internships and practicums introduces you to people. to me that sounds like misplaced expectations not the school’s failure.

        • FootysDick Vermeil

          i guess it is true. anyone that wants to be a mental health professional outta have their head examined.


    • Arkiebell

      Don’t know where you are looking….or what state you are in. I graduated in 07 and have had no problem finding employment. I work community mental health…..began straight out of school….obtained my LCSW….was awarded the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment which provided me 80K to put on my student loans while I still earned my salary. I’ve never made less than $43 which was my entry level salary

  • Athilingaraja.K

    I am a Master Degree holder in Life science, Sociology with B.Ed degree and M.Phil in Aquaculture more than 10 working experience in Teaching field now I am very happy to inform that to willing to serve as a School Social Worker

    • Lorita90

      Your are not a social worker unless you have a MSW or BSW. There are specific accredited criteria to be a Social Worker. You may be a school counselor but not a Social Worker. Social Workers have been in the field for over 150 years and we have worked hard to creditable career.

      • Linda Sue

        Quite frankly though it depends on which state you go to. Some states will certify/license people with other degrees based on a combination of education (Sociology/Psychology/etc) and experience work in a Social Work field. I do believe that Wisconsin is one state that will do this.

  • sohaan


    I m Doctor Bachelor in Ayurveda medicine & surgery (BAMS) , working as medical officer .
    i want to do MSW, but as i m working so cant do regular,so please suggest me whether off campus good or not.
    also help me out which specialization i should do in MSW.

    • Celia

      There are some very good programs in clinical social work that are online and part time. I would look at the Boston University program (which I am starting this Fall) and USC. They are equivalent to the campus degree, but were implemented specifically for people who need to work while getting their degree. The BU one is online part time and completed in 2.5 years, including internships. I will work full time for the first year of classes and then part time while completing the required 1200 hour internship for the degree. Then you will have to rearrange your current job situation to accommodate the additional 3000 hour internship required to get licensed.

  • sohaan

    I m not getting reply to my Query….

    please help me out……..
    Dr Sohaan

  • TheraNest

    One area of growth that is also Geriatric or Elder Care Counseling or Therapy. We’ve noticed an uptick in people using our software for that among social service agencies and private practices.

  • Jasmine

    What does it take to get into the Child Welfare aspect of Social Work? Like would a Bachelor’s be enough? Also, what are some entry-level jobs in SOWK?

    • Celia

      For the child welfare aspect, which I have worked in, you can usually get away with a bachelor’s degree in social work. However, you would become a case manager, which doesn’t pay well and the field is very draining and often leads to burnout and high turnover. With a master’s degree, you can do things like assess conditions for adoption cases or provide therapy for children in the social services system, though the pay is still not amazing. You will need a license in clinical social work, which requires a masters (about 2 years in school plus a 1200 hour internship for the degree and then an additional 3000 hour internship to qualify for a license in most states. All states are different, but 1200 is the maximum standard, so I wouldn’t trust schools who offer fewer hours for internships. You would have to make up those hours later to qualify in most states. Offering fewer hours is usually a sign that an institution does not have the proper accreditation. When researching programs, make sure that they are nationally and regionally accredited, and accredited by the NCSW, the National Counsel of Social Work. This will help make licensing smoother regardless of the state you are in. Always look at your own state’s qualifications for social work licenses. Some states have different standards, and a few aren’t even offering licenses at this time (I know there are issues with California, Texas and South Dakota). You really need to do in depth research about each program, and don’t make impulsive decisions.

      • Celia

        Also with a bachelor’s degree, you can’t provide any therapy or diagnosis, so your treatment options are very limited, and since many kids in the system are very difficult, they may not take you seriously and sometimes you find yourself feeling like a glorified babysitter, only they can say awful things to you and there is very little you can do in return since without the master’s you have very little authority in the treatment plan.

        • LSW

          Celia, I feel that you summary of Child Welfare work is very jaded. I am a Child Protective Casewoker with a BSW, and I find that the caseworker/casework supervisor has one of the most important roles in determining a treatment plan. The ability to treat and diagnose a child or adult does not come into play as a child welfare professional. Often through assessing child safety, the clinician often is left in a helpless role and can only provide a referral.
          Also, the State of Maine does not require an MSW or any Master’s degree for the matter to become a casework supervision, program administrator. I have spoken to some supervisors who have completed an MSW, who in part regret the money and time spent on it. Please, think twice before spending the extra money on an MSW. You can have a rewarding, exciting job and a chance to move up into research, management as well as other opportunities.

      • Linda Sue

        In my experience the schools are accredited by CSWE Council on Social Work Education.

  • Searching

    No jobs in this field to many graduates

  • nofear43

    I’m trying to find more info on geriatric care and mental/public health and what kind of schooling/classes I need to obtain a degree for them. If anybody has any tips/advice, helpful info, I would really appreciate it

  • Ben

    I graduated May 2012 with a BSW from The University of Southern Maine. I have been employed for the past year with the State of Maine: Child Protective Services as a Licensed Social Worker. Currently Starting pay is $37,000. You do not need a Master’s degree to move up in to higher management which pays up to $72,000. I do not see the benefit in completing an MSW.

    • hncbama

      That’s very RARE. Most jobs REQUIRE an MSW, specifically the LCSW to become a supervisor.

      • Ben

        Here’s the thing. Most people completing an MSW are not interested in becoming a State caseworker. Most State caseworkers who complete an MSW aspire to leave the field of child welfare to become clinicians. An MSW will never get into a State Casework Supervisor or Program Administrator position unless he/she has several year’s experience as a State Child Welfare Caseworker. As you may see, this leaves many openings for Bachelor level Caseworkers. The best experience and education in State Child Protective Services is the actual field work itself (Makes Sense).

        • rafad

          cud u plz clear out ua university wer u studied fr ua under graduation……
          and am a boy from india and i wish tu be medical social worker cud u plz help me…..

          • Ben

            I attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland, ME for my undergraduate. USM has both a BSW and MSW program. I had a good experience at this University, and the faculty were very supportive. USM would be a great school for a student interested in Medical Social Work as it is close in proximity to Maine’s largest hospital: Maine Medical Center in Portland. There are also many other nearby hospitals in the area, and USM has established many outstanding field sites for the Students. Whether you are persuing a BSW or MSW, USM is a great school for the price and quality of education. I hope this helps.

          • rafad

            thnxx dear ben…….. fr ua valuable info….
            cud u plzzz mail mee to my gmail account at


          • rafad

            dear ben cud plzz mail more information about dis medical social work at
            den cud u plzz clear out one more thing dat wich is ur current working post…????

          • beth

            Hi Ben I’m studying to get my bachelors in social work in Florida. What state world you say is the best state to be in for a job?

          • Gabriela Acosta

            Hi Beth,
            so happy to hear that you are getting a BA in Social Work! Every state has opportunities for employment, but it may depend on what kind of social work you are interested in. Also, keep in mind that every state has different licensure requirements. You can find out more at Good luck with your studies!

          • Ben

            Hey Beth, Social Work careers are proposed to grow throughout the US. Elder Social Work as well as work with Military Veterans and Families are going to be hot areas. I would say that in most States there is a great need for Child Welfare Social Workers: Child Protective Services, Permancy/Foster, and Adoptions. From personal experience I can tell you that the State of Maine has a great need for Child Welfare and Clinical Social Workers. If you are employed by the Department of Health and Human Services you can expect to start at $37,000 as a caseworker with a BSW.

          • Natalia

            First you should master in English for a Second Language. Then take Communication Arts as a minor to work on that spelling, and grammar of yours. Then, and only then should you work in the field of medical sociology. Please! What ever you do-don’t forget the Communication Arts! This perhaps will save your life as right now-your spelling, and grammar is horrible.

          • val

            I think you meant to say “your spelling and grammar are horrible” :)

          • Red Sox

            Natalia, I hope you’re not being serious because your sarcasm towards this precious boy in India who aspires to be a social worker is wrong in more than one way. I truly hope you’re not in this field. And don’t forget to grammar check your own writing when you’re unabashedly pointing out commenting someone else’s.

          • futurebsw

            You should look deep inside yourself and find your humanity! God help us if you are a social work major.

    • Deeva

      Depending on your age and your organization, an MSW will be an advantage. I am 50, work for the county and want to retire with the highest pay possible, which will retire me with the highest pay possible. An MSW from any CSWE accredited school starts me at level 3, which is nearly five years ahead of my peers with only a bachelors. It also opens the door for me into management in only two years. A $20k MSW will get me a higher rate of pay, possibly allowing me to retire earlier and allow me the freedom to teach. Just a thought for us older adults who arent just starting out.

      • Eric Lenhardt

        Hi Deeva. If you get this mail somehow, please write me back as I am am an older MSW interested in the kind of work you do for a county government. Eric

    • jmd49

      How did you get Licensed as a BSW?

      • Ben

        You need State Approval and you take the Basic/Bachelor’s examination through ASWB. Each state has different requirements. With a BSW in Maine you can be a Licensed Social Worker, and can engage in non clinical practice. With an LSW in Maine you cannot engage in private practice, but can supervise other LSWs, and engage in many other forms of social work practice that don’t involve the diagnosis of Mental Health Disorders.

    • futurecounselor

      Take advantage if you don’t need one. It seems that the Federal Government only hires people with an MSW to counsel Veterans. If anyone is interested in therapy, particularly with Vets who have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), an MSW is required and the Government will not consider Marriage and Family Therapists, etc.

      • Bobby Fields III

        The Federal Government does open up positions to therapists with other masters-level credentials, such as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) here in Arizona, but those positions are not very plentiful. Most MSW positions require a state license, but luckily you can be licensed in ANY state and still work in the federal government. Unfortunately, some agencies like Department of the Army will only hire LCSWs to work in the clinical mental health setting, so it is impossible for less experienced social workers to get those jobs.

  • Happy MSW

    I must say reading the comments made me further grateful and appreciative of the positions I have found in this field. I graduated from the MSW program at the University of Pittsburgh about a year ago. My undergrad was in Psychology and I thought long and hard about going into a Professional Counseling program or the MSW, went with MSW because it was more broad with a wider range of potential positions. It was a hard road, took me a year after undergrad to find a difficult and frankly dangerous job at an RTF with low pay and high stress, worked that job fulltime through out grad school and came out to find a job I love doing Mobile Therapy and acting as a behavioral specialist with children, I have found another Mobile Therapy job to compliment the first. I must say the work is rewarding, though income is a bit unstable with cancelations and growing restrictions/ standards from insurance companies. I have come to accept 40 hour work weeks wont do it but with hard work, dedication, and tenacity you can for sure find success, fulfillment, and a liveable wage in this field.

  • Miranda

    I’m about to have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology but have recently decided I want to do social work. Can I get my masters in social work with a BA??

    • nymike

      Melissa, yes you can. People come into MSW programs with various backgrounds…including career changers. I have my BA in Psych and will be going into my second year of my MSW program. My program is very clinically focused so my background in psych has been extremely helpful. Best of luck with the application process!

      • nymike

        Sorry. Miranda**

    • lil rb

      Yes! I got my Bachelors in Fine Arts and worked in graphic design, but was accepted to the first MSW program I applied to. Make sure to do some community service in the social services field to complement your application. The more volunteer experience the better.

  • acornell

    I have seen several comments on this post regarding how hard it is to find a position as a BSW. I guess that I have been lucky because I started my first position as a mental health case worker the Monday following my graduation ceremony. Then after a year I moved on to another position as a case worker in corrections. Currently I am working on getting into a graduate program to finish my MSW and hopefully, eventually receive my LCSW.

    What we have to remember as Social Workers is that we mainly would be working for non-profit agencies. Non-profit agencies are not suppose to advertise their services and therefore tend to operate on a more word of mouth or resource given base. So in the end as far as career growth it is worth mentioning that the same resources (i.e non-profit agencies) they we give to our clients as contacts are in fact possible future job options for us as social workers.
    With this in mind the best possible thing a social worker can do to further their career is to network.
    I would also add for any students who have not been hired in the profession yet, to remember that any social work job is a job! Even if the money they offer you does not seem like what you deserve the experience will help you find a better paying job down the line. My first position in the field was just prior to graduation and I was paid 7.50 an hour. At this point I am making almost 35,000 a year with only a BSW.

  • rafad

    sir currently am a student from india and am doing ug course othr dan BSW…
    sir can i do BSW openly…. along with this current ongoing course……………????

  • Dion Carroll

    I studied criminal justice it plays a role in many families life. Mainly learning from problems within schools, after school programs, and how to develop a social response to negative encounters. Basic upon research i focus where it starts child development to realise that the hard point is maintaining self discipline. Usually jobs would be lined up for opportunities that can provide sources about assistance. However, it depends only how we learned to be a team and not adapt the injustice.

  • katelyn

    I am currently in school getting basics out of the way and have been looking into a social work degree. I really want to work for a non-profit organization such as UNICEF. Is this the right degree for me?

    • Gabriela Acosta

      Hi Kately,
      so glad you are interested in a social work degree. You mention that you’d like to work for an NGO such as UNICEf. In what capacity would you like to work for them? Social Work would be more of the on-the-ground kind of work with individuals who need assistance, helping them to find the resources they need. If you have more questions feel free to get in touch with MSW@USC Admissions: 1.877.700.4MSW (1.877.700.4679) or

  • Chelsey Duranleau

    I have my BA in Spanish, but am thinking about becoming an LCSW to work in a mental health agencies/community mental health centers, etc. Does anyone have any recommendations of schools that are known more for this specialization than others. I am interested in an urban area, preferably in the Midwest, southern or western U.S. Any help/advice is greatly appreciated!

  • Cocoa

    hello, I have a BA in public relations, minor in communications earned over 10 years ago; went back to school for project management 2 years ago and found it was not the career change I was looking for. I have always honestly had an interest in psychology and/or social work in some fashion since I was in high school but was too ‘lazy’ to pursue the master level education once I got into college. Now, years later I find myself still being pulled by my internal interest in the field. I am considering going back for my masters in social work but I haven’t a clue if it is the right option for me. Essentially, my goal would be to work in a hospital setting or possibly a non-profit setting in which I were working more closely with families or the elderly. I have no interest for the most part in working in child welfare but more on the geriatric/family side, possibly even addiction counseling. Is this the right field and what key points should i look for in a program? Based on a number of posts I’m confused if I will earn my degree only to most likely not be able to find a job due to lack of experience?

  • Mettu Venkatesh

    Hai friends i am pursuing msw in india…i want to do jobs in abroad can u give the information on hiring process and elgibilities,,,,expensives in other countries

  • stacy


  • stacy

    Have faith I landed a job after undergrad paying 11.17
    about 2years later got a job paying 30000 and now 31/2 years later am making 38000. My ultimate goal is 80000 after i get my masters. Its possible, just pray and possibly switch up your resume and cover letter. Try a different area !!!
    Good Luck


    Just wanted to share my experience. BS in Psychology & Criminology and graduated this spring with my MSSW. I was hired 2 months after graduation by a private psychiatric practice to be their TMS Coordinator & LMSW under supervision of their LCSW. Its definitely a great opportunity to round out my experience (interned at a VA hospital and a hospice organization during grad school, and a children’s mentoring program during undergrad, plus I’ve done research work). However, the pay is extremely low. I was hired for 28k/year with no benefits and 2 weeks vacation after 1 year. Luckily, my husband has great benefits with his job so I was in a position to take this opportunity. So far I’m enjoying it, but I’m becoming impatient because my clients are trickling in. The environments great though, and I’m excited to see how my practice grows while I get my LCSW.

  • Sincerely_Ashley

    Hello, my name is Ashley. I am currently in college working my way up to graduate with a MSW. I would love to hear all of your stories and paths you took. I want to hear your advice and comments about the field. Please email me at

  • Diana

    I really hope I can start a career in social work as I already have a degree in social work. However it has been 3 months since I finished study and still couldn’t get a job related to social work. I never thought it would be this hard to find such job in my country. I wonder whether I should stop trying but it doesn’t feel right. How do you start a career in social work?

  • KellyElaine

    I will graduate in December with my B.S. in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication. Initially, I planned on enrolling at Wake Forest University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, however, I learned yesterday that the three-year program costs $73,000 as it is a private non-profit university. Typically, LMCH’s make around $40,000/year. I don’t think I’d be making enough to pay my $800+/month student loan payment, so I don’t think that’s really an option for me. The closest university to me is UNC Wilmington (about a 30 minute drive) and they do not offer Master’s degrees in counseling, only MSW. I kind of have to stay in this area as I am a single mother of a two-year-old. Does anyone have an opinion on which Master’s degree I should pursue? Would spending that much on the LMCH ultimately be worth it? Do I have to have a BSW in order to pursue a MSW? I want to focus on therapy as that is my passion. Do you think I’ll be pleased with the work in mental health offered to applicants with a MSW? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  • Dana

    I am employed as a School Social Worker and have been for 5 years in Michigan. I have my LMSW with my school certificate. It is a very rewarding job, but very fast paced. I maintain an active caseload of general education and special education students. I am responsible for our building crisis teams, PBS team, Safety team, and provide support to teachers and staff on a daily basis. I have enjoyed it and continue to work in the field of Social Work for many years to come. I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys working with people and empowering others who need support.

  • Nyia

    Hello my name is Nyia and I will be attending college in January, and I’m having a hard time deciding if I want to go in a social work field or not. I hear so many different things I don’t know what to believe or what to do. I really need some advice from people with experience. You can email me at Thanks!

  • Chris

    To be a candidate you need to go to an accredited school of social work and major in social work. Psychology and sociology are worthless unless you plan to teach. Cold hard facts.

  • Boom

    Social work is stressful and underpaid. I thought I could get past it, but I will NEVER pay back my loans from USC and the field is terrible. Get a regular job and volunteer on the weekends to give back. I should have heeded the advice I was given before I went to USC. Learn from my mistakes.

    • Unique thoughts

      Did you attend USC in Columbia?

  • Samantha Byler

    My name is Sam. I’m about to head out on my journey to seek social work as a career. Any advice or guidance?

  • Lynne

    I am a 26 year veteran of this most honored profession of Social Work. As a licensed independent clinical social worker with excellent post grad training for 18 yrs. in family therapy and a crucial certification in trauma therapy, I have a superb private practice with a number of diverse contracts with the Courts; a residential treatment facility; a child advocacy center; a homeless organization; and a school system. I make an excellent salary, but it wasn’t always that way. Like other highly satisfied colleagues in my field, I paid my dues by working in community mental health; paying for private supervision; investing in excellent training and relevant certifications; seeking out mentors and sitting at their feet to learn my ‘trade'; and taking additional courses in public speaking, etc. It did not come easy, but I did not expect it to. It was never about ‘the Benjamin’s’ for me or hurrying to become successful….it has been a process. I take good care of myself and my family and I stay in the moment – absorbing what I am doing at that moment and not trying to skip steps. Most importantly, my clients have benefitted from my approach to this profession. If you are not willing to put the effort in, to learn and develop with time on the clock, to avoid compassion fatigue by taking good care of yourself, then please feel free to leave this profession. It, and the people we serve, are too precious. And so are you.

  • JDob

    I am going to college for social service worker its a two year program and i am half way through my first. What do I have to do after i receive my college diploma to become a social worker? im interested in working at a school as a guidance counselor, with children, or older adults (gerontology) help please!

  • shubhra

    what are the job opportunities after doing one of these courses?

  • Terri Jo

    I have been very fortunate with my Masters in Clinical Social Work. I work full time as a medical social worker for the Veterans Administration and earn $ 71,000. I’ve been with the VA for eight years. Also, I work part-time as a clinical therapist and earn $ 38 per 45 minute session. My combined income varies between $ 80,000 to $ 85,000 annually. I earned my MSW in 2002.

    • Ilona

      Terri Jo,
      Hi, I am waiting to hear if I will get into the university for my MSW…I am now 55…I won’t get out of school until I am 58…I have been a self employed massage therapist for 21 years…that has sustained me…my hands will not hold out for another 10 yrs…I have had this interest for many, many years, a desire to get my MSW and LCSW…
      Do you think it is too old? I am wanting to get into the medical/palliative/ arena…also create a small practice to continue past institutional work…If i were to get a job in a hospital or medical facility would that possibly be considered supervision for my MSW (2) years needed. Would like to hear your opinion from your experience. Thank you. Ilona

    • Ilona Silverman

      which state do you work in? i jus got accepted at USM in Maine or my MSW. Medical is my area of interest. what do you do at the VA?

  • Rashness

    Hi I am a high school student in grade 12 trying to make the right decision for uni . I want to do social work but I don’t know if there jobs in that field , btw I live in canada . Is this a good field to get into ?

  • Ashley

    I am really considering majoring in sw and then going for my masters! Those of you out there who are working already, do you think it’s worth it? Are there opportunities to make more $? I’d hate to spend all this money getting a masters degree to make >40000
    Plz email me

  • Perry

    Hi I live in St Louis and I have a BA and MBA neither in this field. This may sound silly, but can I just get an MSW without having a BS? And the on line schools offer CACREP which I have never seen that being part of a requirement in any of the MSW job posts or BA.

  • SocialWorkCasework

    Hello everyone. My name is David and I’m a registered Social Work in Alberta Canada working in the Child Protection field as a Casework Supervisor. I have a BSW from a Canadian University, with practicums in mental health. I am very happy working for the state at $87K CDN with lots of overtime and after hours. We support professional development activities across a broad spectrum including forensic investigation strategies, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Training, Mental Health training etc. The three main reasons parents come to our attention are 1. Family Violence, 2. Drug and Alcohol Addictions and 3. Mental Impairment, either Disability or Disorder. If you are interested in any of these areas, visit any Provincial Government website and search for Child Protection or Child Welfare for job advertisements.

  • Erin

    Hey, everyone. I’m currently an junior in an undergraduate education program, but I’m almost certain that I want to pursue a career in school social work.I read through all of the comments on this page, and it seems like a lot of you had very helpful insights on the social work field. I was wondering if anybody here had any suggestions as to good MSW programs with high post-grad employment rates or any advice in general on school social work as a profession. If anyone has any advice, warnings, etc, I would be more than appreciative. Please feel free to email me at

  • Juss Russ

    Juss Russ
    I never knew that social work could be such a dependable position as far as income is concerned. This definitely helps me in considering careers for Juss Russ

  • Tracey

    Salaries are much higher in Canada, then the U.S. These salaries are unheard of in Canada.

  • Tracey

    Hospital social workers with their MSW degrees make 40 to 60 dollars per hour, for full time social workers, based on a 37.5 work week, which is much higher then what you quoted. That is in Canada.

  • Tanya

    Child welfare social workers in Ontario make between 60,000 to 100,000 dollars per year.

  • kick me


  • LUVLIZ333

    Where is a good place to find out information on Social Working?

  • Mansoor Ambalamkuth

    I have completed my MSW in 2012. the specialization was in Counselling and psychiatric social work. after the course i had experience in counselling, social work research, Training and Human resource Development. I want to change to more challenging job with better package. so if anybody can, please help, Thanking you

  • Katie Burns

    I’m just starting out but would like to know more about the steps to getting my MSW and LCSW.

  • Name

    It is not an easy field but can be very rewarding. You may have to start at a job that has low pay and high work loads to get your feet wet but things will improve as you gain experience. I have worked in medical, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and the list goes on and on. Some with my BSW and some with MSW that I received in 2006. I wish you the best…DON’T give up. You will see that your MSW was one of your best decisions.

  • wrk2hrd

    I recently graduated with my BA in psychology and it wasn’t difficult at all to find a job. In fact, I had 3 interviews in one month and I was able to make a choice as to which I preferred. I now work in the mental health field. I think I was marketable due to my volunteer work throughout the entire process of gaining my BA. I volunteered at multiple agencies in fields such as, intake worker, mental health, school districts, homeless advocate, City and County jobs. Along the way, I networked with some of the most prestigious people that wrote me letters of recommendations and I was also offered to go into business with a few of them once I earn my MSW. I now would like to earn my MSW (LCSW).

  • Jane Wheeler

    I think that this article shows that social work is one of those careers that not only do you get to help people, but it also allows so many paths to different fields. I personally find medical/public health appealing the most since it has the most demand and its growing at the fastest rate. I have this other article I came across for those interested in the salary aspect of social work:

  • Coco77

    Does anyone know if you want to go to school to eventually get your masters for a family marriage therapist could getting a Bachelors degree in social work be good? I know people recommend getting a psychology degree but my thought on that was, if I decide to not go on with getting a masters degree that a social work degree would or could be better then a psychology degree for getting a job.

  • Carrie

    I agree with earlier posters- make sure social work is the career you want. Get out in the field and test the waters before narrowing your scope and pursuing an advanced degree…without experience, it is a tough field to get into.

  • love

    is there anyone on this chat who worked in the Medical/Public Health field as a social worker ? please email me at

  • Fabian Ngants

    Hello everyone. Since looking at all your comments, I am very interested to join the group and talk more about the social work. I am a student currently studying social work at Divine Word University in Papua New Guinea, an island country located north of Australia. I’m currently doing 2nd year and will be graduating with Bachelor’s Degree by the end of 2016. However, is there any possibility where I could easily find a job in other countries?

  • Lisa Maples

    Social Worker Jobs available with Suncoast


    I guess it depends where you live as to what the job market is. I have my LMSW and I work in NY in a Nursing Home and I am currently getting paid $66,000. I also turned down 7 job offers last year. There are jobs out there however, it is all about networking and building relationships with people in the field.

  • Gloria H

    I am a single mom who is 38 years old. I haven’t been to college but I seem to be at a crossroads with where I want my life to go now. I was married young and have a kid going into high school this fall so I have put my desires for continued education and a career path on hold until now. I am thinking about going to school to study social work but I don’t know with being 38 years old now if my chance has passed & it’s a little to late. I would be really interested in hearing about what you think my options and/or opportunities are in this field at this stage in my life. If you could be so kind to email me to discuss at or I appreciate your time & your thoughts.

  • Amit Banerjee

    sir, i completed my mba from IGNOU MBA, what are my pospects in getting an msw degree and getting into social work.

  • kel l

    California dept of corrections is a great place to start if you like mental health and forensic sw!

  • Tee

    I’ve worked with at-risk youth in a residential treatment center for about a year. I then moved on to work with students who are along the autism spectrum-those with special needs/disabilities and am presently employed by the agency. I’ve been working for them almost five years, but I would like to move on to something more social-work oriented, if that makes any sense. I have my BSW so I am interested in knowing what my options are. What would you suggest as it is difficult to find anything where I live to gain employment in my field? Thanks in advance.


    I went back into the field at the age of 50. So much had changed since I graduated in my early twenties. Yes, it was virtually impossible to find a job. Then unlike when I was younger now you are generally not hired unless you have a specialty. Looking at the want ads most jobs were part time, per diem, temporary, or consulting. I found when I finally found work that I was being paid the same amount now as when I just graduated twenty five years a go. The difference being that the cost of living had gone up and I HAD NO BENEFITS. It seems in order to achieve in this field not only do you need a BSW, MSW, LSW, LCSW, but also additional course work giving you a specialty. However, I wonder even if I go back to school and specialize even then will I be able toI find reliable employment that is full time, with benefits, and offers sick days and why not vacation days? WHY DO THE PEOPLE WHO CARE THE MOST ABOUT OTHERS GET TREATED THE WORST. A board who keeps putting on requirement after requirement for the benefit of the client excludes the basic rights of the workers. WHY isn’t anyone talking about that? How can people truly care about others when their own basic needs are being neglected. The right to a salary that pays your bills, the right to health care, sick days. Social workers are advocates and yet for ourselves we EAT CRUMBS.

  • Logan

    i doing my msw in hr specialisation but not interested in hr… i want to be school social worker… so suggest me any diploma courses in counselling courses and institutions…waiting for reply… advance thanks…

  • hi biggs


  • hi biggs


  • hi biggs


  • hi biggs


  • glo

    What is the difference between a degree in mental health counseling and social work?

  • SCerrillo, LCSW

    I am an LCSW in Northern CA and I can honestly say that I couldn’t be happier with my education and career choices. I have never encountered any problems finding a job. As a matter or fact, each time I have moved to a different position I have been recruited for it. The opportunities are endless, but be warned it is all about WHO YOU KNOW and not always about WHAT YOU KNOW. What I mean by that is NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Attend trainings, seminars and conferences. Spend sometime introducing yourself and making connections with others in the field.

    I came across this page as I prepare to be a Guest Speaker at my son’s middle school for Career Day!

    One last note — LCSWs are much more marketable and sought after than MFTs in many states for the simple fact the LCSW is nationally recognized. Best of luck to all!

  • melb

    I graduated with my MSW in 2008. I obtained licensure as an LCSW in 2010. Since graduation, I’ve been working as a mental health therapist. I spent two years in a hospital system, and have been in a private practice system for the last three years. My suggestion is this: avoid private practice. I’m working 6 days a week at two different places (classified as private practice because I’m a 1099 employee) and bringing home less than 2k a month. It’s awful. Working in a hospital system was no picnic, as your hands are tied by bureaucratic policies and bs, but at least you had an income you could count on. No such luck in private practice. No sick days, no benefits. If clients no show, you don’t get paid. Reimbursement rate for Medicaid clients is awful, and they have the highest no show rates.
    Personally, I feel like my 70K education was pretty worthless. My stepdad works at a turkey factory and makes more than I do.

  • AS

    Hai I am a post graduate in Social Work with community development as my specialization from Kerala. I passed out in 2013 and worked in some NGO’s with not much good remuneration. Actually i find it too difficult to find some good job with good remuneration… Sometimes i regret for taking social work :-(

  • nana

    I have a masters degree in hospitality, what area of social work can I be placed or what course should I do to be better placed in social work.

  • mark pursel

    In an attempt to expose, confront, and stop DCFS abuse I have started the Liberty Scraps youtube channel. I will be seeking out and posting videos that highlight the fight against DCFS / CPS corruption. We must fight and scrap to maintain, preserve, and expand upon the few scraps of liberty our current police state allows.

    I am a 21 year police veteran and current police detective that has actively investigated hundreds of child abuse cases. I am also a victim of DCFS corruption. I offer the following advice: Do not ever speak to DCFS…When they come to your home, step outside and close the door behind you…Collect their business card and listen to the allegation against you…Then exert your right to reman silent and do so…Do not answer ANY questions. Do not allow them into your home. Do not allow them to see or interview your children. Do not sign anything. Do not provide them with ANY information about your children or family. If you have time, record the at the door encounter. If your children are old enough, teach them how to exercise their right to remain silent; children should exercise their right to remain silent if interviewed at school or if DCFS comes back to your home with an investigative warrant (school interviews can be avoided by home schooling your children). Any investigative warrant obtained solely on an uncorroborated anonymous allegation to the DCFS hotline is illegal; you should seek an attorney to file a federal civil rights lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 if DCFS serves an illegal warrant on your home.

  • Jeremy

    Just browsing for MSW programs, unfortunately USC probably wont accept me due to my low undergraduate GPA. I’m posting here to give some insight in the social work field. But first let me talk about me, I have a bachelors degree in psychology from CSUF. I had no idea what I was going to do with that degree but I was lucky enough to land a social work job without any experience. Believe me, I was very lucky because the other person that was going to be hired fainted during an interview, and she was way more qualified . But here I am now, a full time social worker without a MSW. I have 2 years of experience working in a skilled nursing/sub-acute care and about 2 years of long term acute care doing most of my social work ranging from young adults to the elderly. I get paid about 46,000. Not bad with just a bachelors right? But i’m hungry for more. I have experience in crisis intervention, death/dying, palliative/hospice, casemanagement and discharge planning, arranging family care meetings with physicians and clinical staff, list goes on. So…..for advice. It’s hard to find a job but don’t give up. Social work is tough but don’t be discouraged. With experience you get better at handling cases like I have.

  • Jarod

    I appreciate the list of the most popular social work careers. I think it is important to know what your options are before you even enter into a program. Those that get their MSW need to realize that there are jobs out there but you have to be flexible with where you live. A close friend of mine was employed at at United Medical Education, until she found employment doing social work. Finding the right job sometimes can take some time.

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  • Roxanne

    Schools don’t tell you but I will. Make sure the school you choose is accredited..if not it will be hard to find work..accredited schools give you the opportunity to complete your master’s in one year..also you can try the child welfare education program..they give you a stipend, a bonus when you graduate, and pay for your senior year of school with the advance standing to get your degree is a no brainer. You have to sign your life to the child welfare for at least two years. But at least when you finish school you go stright to work..accreditation is number one..

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  • Roids

    Nice post!. I am currently seeking a social work outside of partime studies, interested in chemistry steroids online qualifications are pharmacy degree ,MBA science backround. I have about 10yrs experience in biology sector.

  • sally

    Hello I’m five yrs in with as a Mental health professorial I just finished my undergrad in Healthcare administration and now I’m looking to continue in this path. Currently I’m looking to enroll and complete my MSW program at University of Chicago. I’m looking for a Mentor to assist me with professorial developmental inside this field. I can be reached at here please feel free to contact me.

  • nicole

    Hi my name is nicole im really confused if i should study social work and where to go in life.. ive heard there is no jobs in this field.. my email is

  • Disappointed

    All my life I’ve wanted to be a social worker… I graduated 3 months ago and have been working since. I woke up today and realized I hate my job.
    What now?

  • David Theologou

    I’ve been doing a little research and I’ve seen two different opinions on this so I’d appreciate some information. Do you need a 4 year degree to become a social worker? From what I can tell there are jobs out there that you can get with a 2 year degree, but they are more uncommon and much lower paying. Please email me Thanks.

  • Dr Balasaheb Darade

    I’m a Post graduate in MSW (Master in Social Work) program and right now i have complited Doctorate (P hd ) in Social Work on ” Working Women Duel Role Conflict” and it has been one of the best decisions but i have more then 5 years experiance in Finance in Corporate so kindly suggest what we do in future. right now It is such a great achivement in P hd and I know there are a lot of opportunities out there.

  • Lopa

    Hi my name is lopa.if i wiil do msw from ignou(distance)what will b the job opportunities.?

  • Ashvani

    Hi I have done Masters in Social Work and have more than 8 year of exp. please suggest me the career options in this field. please write me on

  • Ken

    If a person is having difficulty finding a job social work or any field, you need to persistent. Jobs don’t just come to you. Sometimes you don’t find exactly what you are looking for and you have to make adjustments and get that experience. There isn’t a lack of jobs in Human service, but their is a lack of jobs people want to do. Also what you want to do might not be everything that you expect. For example a lot of people like going into school social work because they get their summers off. Schools are changing all the time there is just as much need for social workers in summer. Also there are many hours that social workers spend after school that they don’t get paid for.