Most Popular Social Work Career Options to Look Into in 2022

Updated on December 5, 2023
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History books are filled with examples of people coming together to improve the world. From early human rights activists like Mahatma Gandhi and Harriet Tubman to more recent social justice icons like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala Yousafzai, many people have dedicated their lives to helping others.

Whether it’s fighting for human rights, providing support to those in need, or campaigning for social change, there are several ways to make a difference. And while some people are content to do this work on a smaller scale, others want to make a career out of it.

If you’re thinking of switching careers or are a recent graduate looking for your first job, here are the most popular social work career options in 2022.

What is Social Work?

Social work is a profession that provides valuable services to people in need. It is an important career choice for those who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

Social workers help people deal with various challenges, including mental health issues, addiction, abuse, and poverty. 

They provide support and guidance to individuals and families and work to improve the quality of life for all community members.

How to Become a Social Worker?

Most social workers have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). However, some jobs may require a master’s degree in social work (MSW)

Both these degrees typically take four years to complete. However, some of us are already working and can’t manage to take that amount of time off. 

Many schools offer online MSW programs or evening programs that can be completed in two years or less if this is the case.

Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll need to obtain a license from your state’s licensing board. You will also need to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience and pass an exam.

The Most Popular Social Work Career Options:

If you’ve been living with the perception that social work is limited to aiding the elderly in retirement homes or being a school counselor, it’s time to broaden your horizons. 

Social work is an expansive field with many different specialties. Here are some of the most popular social work career options to look into in 2022:

Child and Family Social Worker:

Family dynamics have changed drastically in the past year. Many parents have lost their jobs, putting a strain on the family unit. Sometimes, families fail to tackle these pressures impacting their children’s mental, social, and emotional development.

As a child and family social worker, you would work with families to help them overcome these challenges and provide support to the children. It could include addressing the needs of children through toddlerhood, grade school, adolescence, and even early adulthood.

School Social Worker:

Schools play a major role in the mental and behavioral development of children. School social workers are mental health experts who work with students and groups of children dealing with school-related mental health issues. 

It could include working with students who have been bullied, are struggling academically, or have social or behavioral problems.

School social workers generally make schools safer and more positive environments for kids while encouraging them to feel confident in their learning. 

It could include working with individual students, leading group counseling sessions, or coordinating with teachers and parents to develop individualized education plans.

Healthcare Social Worker:

There are a variety of sectors in which a medical social worker can extend their help, be it a hospital, hospice, home health agency, or even insurance companies.

A healthcare social worker is responsible for providing support and guidance to patients and their families as they navigate the healthcare system.

You would also work with patients to develop treatment plans and connect them with resources like support groups or financial assistance programs. 

You’ll work alongside nurses, physicians, and medical specialists to deliver multidisciplinary care to your clients.

Substance Care Counselors:

Substance abuse is among the most pressing social issues in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 20 million Americans aged 12 and older suffer from substance abuse disorders.

As a substance care counselor, you would work with individuals struggling with addiction to help them recover and live a life free of addiction. 

It could include working in a rehabilitation center, conducting one-on-one counseling sessions, or leading group therapy sessions.

Hospice Social Worker:

Dealing with the death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. Hospice social workers help patients and their families deal with end-of-life issues.

You would work with patients to develop a plan for their care, provide support and guidance to their families, and help them make decisions about their end-of-life care. 

In addition, you would also provide emotional support to help the patient and their family deal with the grieving process.

Probation Officer:

Criminal justice reform is a hot-button issue in the United States. Probation officers play an important role in this system, as they work with individuals who have been convicted of crimes and are on probation.

Your job would be to monitor their activities, make sure they are following the terms of their probation, and provide support to help them rehabilitate and reintegrate into society.

Many people confuse probation officers with parole officers, but they are two different roles. Parole officers work with individuals who have been released from prison on parole, whereas probation officers work with individuals who have been sentenced to probation instead of prison.

Macro Social Workers:

Macro social work is a branch that focuses on large-scale issues like poverty, inequality, and homelessness. Macro social workers generally work in government or non-profit organizations to develop and implement programs that address these issues.

The target is to bring about social change on a larger scale. Macro social workers generally have a policy, advocacy, or community organizing background.

Wrapping Up:

Social workers make good money and have good job prospects. They help people in all walks of life, from children to the elderly, from a school environment to a hospital setting. 

Social workers are an important part of the fabric of our society, and there are many different career options to choose from.

The ones highlighted above are just a snapshot of some of the many social work career options available. Other popular careers you can look into include military social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. 

So, if you’re thinking of a career in social work, there’s no shortage of options to choose from!

But, before you commit to a career in social work, please do your research and make sure it’s the right fit for you. But if you have a passion for helping others live better lives, dive right in.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.