Social Work Overview

Social Work is a major that allows you to work with and respond to people in need. This can be a very difficult but fulfilling job as you have the opportunity to help people with many issues and problems. Your clients will include those who suffer from substance abuse, racial inequalities, poverty, homelessness, or many other problems. You should be an open and understanding person when encountering diverse people and situations.

Students take a variety of classes focused on the subject of human behavior and social issues in families and groups as well as individuals. Examples of the classes you will take are alcohol and drug addiction, behavior and social environment, child welfare, gender issues, human diversity, and social welfare policy. Students sometimes have the opportunity to choose a concentration in Youth Services, which focuses more on helping children and adolescents.

Required Skills

The most successful students in the field of social work are outgoing and confident. This field is very hands-on and involves constant people-interaction. Many of the people you work with are in stressful situations and need an empathetic person to help them. Sometimes the best way to help is simply to provide a listening and compassionate ear.

Organizational skills will help you manage classes in a variety of subjects. Practice time management in college in order to help you in a career managing multiple clients and completing paperwork. You will learn many theories and approaches to helping people and have the opportunity to apply those theories to come up with practical solutions to problems.

Many colleges have the opportunity for students to complete an internship or participate in field work. This will give you invaluable experience for your career as a social worker.


The field of social work is expected to grow faster than average, opening up many positions for new graduates. There are several different fields you can choose from. Those who work in family, school, and child social work often help place children in foster care and investigate child abuse cases. Healthcare social work is another quickly growing field which involves working with aging populations. You can also choose to work in mental health and substance abuse helping clients get treatment instead of going to jail.

Graduates with a degree in Social Work average $32,244 as a starting salary with a mid-career salary of $45,991.

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Related Majors

Explore all the majors withing the field of Public Administration & Social Service

Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Social Work might open up.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers
Counselors, All Other
Healthcare Social Workers
Marriage and Family Therapists
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary
Social Workers, All Other
Social and Community Service Managers
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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