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Career Profiles: Social Worker

What do they do?

  • Work in government offices, clinics, hospitals, prisons or courts; also in private hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, schools or businesses.
  • Interview and counsel individuals, families and groups with various social problems, including unemployment, housing issues, financial stress, serious illness or disability, grief, substance abuse, pregnancy issues, child or spousal abuse, lack of job skills, anti-social behavior.
  • Assess clients’ needs and develop response plans.
  • Refer clients to other professional or community services for debt counseling, child care, elder care, public assistance, alcohol or drug rehabilitation.
  • May specialize in clinical social work, child welfare or family services, protective services, mental health, health care, school social work, substance abuse, criminal justice, senior needs, occupational or employee assistance programs.


  • College prep high school courses.
  • Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), or major in related field, such as psychology or sociology, for entry-level positions.  Accredited BSW programs require at least 400 hours of supervised field experience.
  • Master’s degree for positions in health and mental health settings, and for certification for clinical work.  Master’s programs take two years and require 900 hours of supervised field instruction, or internship.
  • All states require licensing, certification or registration for social work practice and use of professional titles.


  • $20,120 - $50,280

More Information

  • National Association of Social Workers
    750 First Street NE, Suite 700
    Washington, DC 20002-4241
    202-408-8600 or 800-638-8799

  • Council on Social Work Education
    1725 Duke Street, Suite 500
    Alexandria, VA 22314-3457

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