2021 Social Work Degree Guide
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.
Social Work Degrees On The Rise
The United States has 691 different schools where you can get a degree in social work. This year's Best Colleges for Social Work ranking compares 274 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of social work programs later in this article.
Social Work Degree Requirements
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.
Social Work Degree Program Entry Requirements
social work degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. In addition to these basic social work program qualifications, to serve in some social work careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.
Social Work Degree Types
There are many different social work degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a professional practice doctorate's in social work to something that takes less time like a associate's. How long it takes to complete some common social work degree levels is shown below.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A master's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to social work, with approximately 41.1% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for social work workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||2.4%|
This of course varies depending on which social work career you choose.
Career Opportunities for A Degree In Social Work Graduate
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.
High Growth Projected for Social Work Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your social work degree? Social Work careers are expected to grow 15.6% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to social work.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||362,600||14.2%|
|Healthcare Social Workers||212,000||20.1%|
|Social and Community Service Managers||173,800||18.0%|
|Substance Abuse Social Workers||147,900||19.4%|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||96,500||5.7%|
Social Work Degree Salary Potential
Social Work graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $36,434 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $7,100 to as high as $69,900. As you might expect, salaries for social work graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
High Paying Careers for Social Work Majors
Salaries for social work graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers social work grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Social Work Professors||$77,520|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$71,670|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$58,790|
|Healthcare Social Workers||$58,470|
Getting Your Social Work Degree
With over 1,419 different social work degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased social work school rankings to help you with this.
Top Ranking Lists for Social Work
Highest Paid Graduates
Most Popular Colleges
Best for Non-Traditional Students
Best for Veterans
Study Areas in Social Work
Social Work is one of 5 different types of Public Administration & Social Service programs to choose from.
Majors Similar to Social Work
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Community Organization & Advocacy||2,832|
|Other Public Administration||971|