5 Types of Social Workers

Get Program Details
. When are you looking to enroll?
When are you looking to enroll?

Those who are passionate about helping others and promoting social change may find themselves drawn to a career in social work. Jobs in this diverse, dynamic field focus on core principles that are rooted in human rights, respect for diversity, and the empowerment of people.

Social workers aim to enhance the overall well-being of many different populations, such as children struggling at school, adults coping with addiction, families experiencing homelessness, couples looking to adopt a child, and those diagnosed with a terminal illness, among others. In addition to assessing their clients’ needs, social workers develop plans to improve their health and welfare. They may also research and refer clients to community resource programs, such as healthcare clinics, child care providers, and food assistance programs.

A social worker consults with a client
Students with an interest in pursuing a career in social work must start with the right education. Completing a bachelor’s degree, such as an online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Maryville University, is an important first step on your path toward becoming a social worker.

Industries Hiring Social Workers

Social workers are employed in a variety of settings, such as at schools, children’s service centers, hospitals and clinics, assisted living facilities, state and local governments, correctional facilities, nonprofit organizations, military installations and Veterans Affairs centers, substance abuse facilities, and via in-home or virtual care. Although many entry-level positions are available to candidates with a bachelor’s degree, more advanced positions in the field may require a master’s or doctoral degree, and some require state licensing.

Popular Social Worker Careers

Students researching the various types of social workers should know there are many career paths to choose from. Although a Master of Social Work (MSW) is required for those who wish to engage in clinical practice as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), earning a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward pursuing licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW) certification from a state government agency.

General Social Worker

Social workers help people identify, cope with, and solve problems in their day-to-day lives. They assess clients’ needs ands strengths, make referrals to community services and support programs, and may respond to crisis situations, such as child abuse.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of social workers will grow 11% between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations. The BLS further states that as of May 2019, the median annual wage for all social workers was $50,470. Salaries range from about $31,790 for the lowest-paid 10% of professionals in this role to about $82,540 for the top 10%.

Social workers must develop a variety of skills, including:

  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organization
  • Problem Solving

School Social Worker

School social workers help children cope with life challenges such as divorce, the death of a family member, discipline problems, and changing schools, among others. They also work with parents, teachers, and school administrators to develop strategies designed to improve students’ social development and academic performance.

The BLS projects that employment of school social workers will grow 11% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the forecast growth for all professions. The BLS also reports that as of 2018, the mean annual salary for elementary and secondary school social workers was $63,000.

Aspiring school social workers must develop several hard and soft skills to work effectively, such as:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Problem solving

Mental Health Counselor

A mental health counselor is a type of social worker who works with clients suffering from addiction, mental health issues, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. They help their clients identify situations and behaviors that may interfere with their recovery, in addition to teaching clients’ family members about various aspects of mental health disorders.

The BLS projects job growth for mental health counselors of 22% between 2018 and 2028, which is significantly faster than the average growth projected for all occupations. The median annual wage for mental health counselors was about $46,240 in May 2019, according to the BLS.

Developing the following hard and soft skills will be helpful to aspiring mental health counselors:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Listening skills
  • Patience
  • Written and verbal communication

Probation Officer

Probation officers provide social and rehabilitation services to law offenders who are in custody or have been released on probation or parole. They perform interviews with their clients, along with their friends and relatives, to assess their progress. Probation officers also provide probationers and parolees with resources designed to help reduce recidivism, such as information on addiction support groups, job training, and job placement services.

The BLS projects that employment of probation officers will grow 3% between 2018 and 2028. Employment growth depends on government funding for correctional programs, including state and local probation and parole systems. Demand for probation officers is expected to continue to grow as community corrections is seen as a viable alternative to incarceration. The BLS estimates that as of May 2019, the median annual salary for probation officers was $54,290, starting at about $36,370 at the low end of the range.

Probation officers should develop the following skills:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Stress management
  • Organization

Social Services Manager

Social services managers coordinate and supervise organizations and programs that support public well-being. They identify and develop necessary programs and services, such as health information seminars, and they plan and manage outreach to increase program awareness. Social services managers may also write proposals for state and grant funding.

The BLS projects that employment in this field will grow 13% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the projected growth for all occupations. The BLS further found that as of May 2019, the median annual salary for all social services managers was $67,150. Salaries for entry-level professionals and others at the lower end of the pay range are about $41,220.

Social services managers need a variety of skills to succeed, including:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication
  • Managerial skills
  • Problem solving
  • Time management

Your Path Toward a Career as a Social Worker Starts at Maryville

Social work is an ideal profession for those who want to help others and work in a field where every day is different from the last. The online Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at Maryville University has been designed to provide aspiring social workers with the foundation they’ll need to advocate for the underrepresented.

Are you ready to take the first step toward a meaningful career that helps you improve people’s lives and promote the good of the community? Let’s be brave together. Discover how Maryville’s online Bachelor of Social Work can help you pursue your passion.

Association of Social Work Boards, About Licensing and Regulation

Association of Social Work Boards, License Requirements by StateThe Boca Raton Tribune, “Social Work Industry in Crisis: Why More People Should Become Social Workers”

International Federation of Social Workers, Global Definition of Social Work

Social Work Resource, “US Is Facing Massive Social Worker Shortages. What Can Be Done About It?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careers in Social Work: Outlook, Pay, and More

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child, Family, and School Social Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Workers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Substance Abuse, Behavior Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors