social work counselor with two clients

10 career paths for graduates with a degree in social work

A degree in social work can open the door to a wide range of career opportunities and disciplines. Discover 10 exciting jobs in the field of social work.

Social workers are vital professionals focused on improving the well-being of others at an individual and community level. Like many professions that deal with people and human behavior, social work is a complicated field that can be applied to many different sectors.


What does a social worker do?

The role of a social worker will change based on their industry and completed level of education. Social workers are tasked with helping people face challenges in their lives. These challenges might include mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders as well as environmental challenges.

 Generally, social workers assist their clients with mental health counseling at an individual, familial, or group level. They assess what is ailing their client and provide solutions like coordinating treatment plans, researching public programs and resources, and more.


How to become a social worker

To begin entry-level work, social workers must finish at least their BSW (Bachelor in Social Work) degree. This degree can be completed at a traditional four-year institution and options exist for students who prefer to complete their degrees online.

 In the coming years, the employment of social workers is projected to grow faster than average for other occupations. With this in mind, now might be a great time to take steps that may advance your social work career. If you’ve already completed your bachelor’s degree in social work, consider taking your education to the next level with a master’s degree.

Whether you’re just starting your education or nearing the end, it’s always a good idea to consider your options for work post-graduation. To help you in this endeavor, we’ve compiled a list of 10 possible jobs for someone with a degree in social work.


10 career paths in social work

The root of social work is helping and rehabilitating people. By furthering your education, you are giving yourself a chance to advance or complete your licensure to practice social work in more sectors such as health care, academia, government institutions, and more.

Here are some careers to consider after your degree completion.

1. Therapist or counselor

Therapists are licensed mental health professionals who help their clients improve their quality of life by developing better cognitive and emotional skills. They help reduce the symptoms of mental illness and provide their clients with coping skills so they can better tackle life’s challenges.

Depending on the therapist’s line of work, they might find themselves in a myriad of locales. This includes hospitals, clinics, community centers, online, and more. If you’re interested in helping people work intimately on their personal lives at either an individual or group level, becoming a therapist might be a good option for you.

2. Medical social worker

Medical social workers specialize in public health, geriatric, palliative (care that focuses on pain relief rather than curing the illness), inpatient, or mental health care. Like many social workers, medical social workers can find themselves in a number of different medical settings depending on where their clients and patients are located.

If you’re looking to become a highly specialized social worker, working in a medical setting might be a good choice. You could work specifically with infants or provide care for those awaiting transplants. Largely, you will work with nurses, doctors, and medical specialists to provide interdisciplinary care for your clients.

3. School social worker

School social workers are trained mental health professionals who help individuals and groups of students with mental health issues surrounding their academic life. They also help teachers, parents, and administrators support the mental well-being of students. Generally, school social workers make school atmospheres safer places for students and help them to feel empowered in their learning.

If you’re interested in intersecting your mental health training with academia, consider becoming a school social worker. You’ll be able to do the important work of helping develop young minds and assist academic institutions in their efforts to do the same.

4. Hospice social worker

Death is usually not an easy subject to contend with. Hospice social workers help families deal with settling matters associated with the passing of a loved one. In addition, they help coordinate care and access to resources for those in hospice.

Being a hospice social worker can be mentally and emotionally taxing. However, this work is instrumental in helping patients and their families in what may be the most challenging moments of their lives.

5. Community outreach worker

If you’re interested in a career at a nonprofit or government institution, consider becoming a community outreach worker. Generally, a community outreach worker attempts to improve the lives of community members by creating events and promoting services that focus on health care and social services for underserved communities.

6. Human services specialist

Human services specialists might work with people in group homes, halfway houses, correctional facilities, mental health centers, family homes, and more. They work with people who have often been in deeply precarious situations.

This work serves those who may need help the most by treating their problems while also helping them maintain those improvements.

7. Probation officer

If you have a special interest in criminal justice, becoming a probation officer will be a great marriage with your social work education. Probation officers guide and monitor offenders and attempt to assist in preventing them from committing new crimes.

Similar to human service specialists, probation officers assist offenders in seeking out treatment and rehabilitation and supervise the progress of their efforts. The primary difference between the two careers is that probation officers are working specifically with people who were put on probation rather than given jail time.

8. Behavioral management aide

Behavioral management aides work to help people change negative behaviors. Children are largely the focus of these services, but in some legal systems, they can be crucial for adults too.

Aides work to help their clients recognize and change behaviors that are working to their detriments, such as violence, tantrums, or disruptive behavior. If you’re hoping to merge your interest in social work with education, becoming a behavioral management aide might be a good fit for you.

9. Substance abuse counselors

Substance abuse counselors specialize in addiction recovery and management. These social workers work with both individuals and groups toward sobriety. They focus on day-to-day struggles as well as long-term recovery plans.

With a focus on mental health, these counselors aide patients in repairing various parts of their life affected by addiction, including personal and professional relationships.

10. Foster care social worker

Foster care social workers, also known as case managers, act as advocates for children in the foster care system. They may also act as counselors for these children, helping with behavioral and mental health issues. A foster care social worker’s primary responsibility is the physical and emotional welfare of children.


These careers just scratch the surface for what paths may be open to you following your graduation. Regardless of the landscape or application, social workers perform difficult work that is crucial to the wellness of many across the world.

Check out our post about 4 jobs for social workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Looking for a social work program you can complete online? Consider Pacific Oaks! Contact us to request information and learn more today!

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.