How to Break into a Career in Social Work: Entry-Level Social Worker Jobs

While most professionals measure career rewards by salary figures and job titles, social workers focus on efforts that can lead to societal change. They apply their skills to better serve disadvantaged and marginalized members of society. Their work can change the lives of individuals and families, as well as lift an entire community. 

In writing about their careers, social workers use phrases such as “creative, challenging and purposeful,” “dedicated to helping others,” and “change agent and innovator.” Those descriptions come from people who already have experience in the field and love the work they do. 

Breaking into social work involves earning an entry-level social work job. Aspiring social workers can take the first step on their career path by earning an online Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and putting the knowledge and skills learned to work with local neighborhoods and families. 

What Kind of People Go Into Social Work? 

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)  writes that the social work profession attracts those who want a career filled with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and a variety of career options. Those options range from working with seniors and children, as well as in hospitals or the criminal justice system. 

But it starts with dedication and passion for the primary mission of social work. That mission, according to the NASW, is “to enhance human well-being and help meet basic and complex needs of all people, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” 

A bachelor’s degree program allows students to meet the qualifications for the job, including conducting interviews and assessments, understanding social work ethics and social policy, and having expertise in the complexities of human behavior as it relates to social environments. 

As for skills, social workers become effective when they sharpen their communication, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, as well as practicing compassion, patience, and empathy with their clients. 

Entry-Level Social Work Jobs 

After earning a four-year degree, some social workers continue with their education in a master’s degree program, especially those who aspire to human services leadership in program director roles. Others immediately enter the workforce, ready to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations. 

They enjoy a wide variety of entry-level social work jobs they can choose from.  

  • Behavioral management aide 
  • Case management aide 
  • Community outreach worker 
  • Juvenile court liaison 
  • Child Welfare Screener 
  • Benefits Eligibility Screener 
  • Probation counselor / Court Compliance Officer 
  • Rehabilitation case worker 

How Much Do Social Workers Make? 

While the median salary for social workers nationally is about $50,390, that pay can reach higher levels in larger metropolitan areas. Federal data lists the following as the top metro areas for social worker employment by category, as well as the average salary as of May 2021. 

Child, Family, and School Social Workers  

  • Los Angeles – $69, 540 
  • New York – $73,840 
  • Chicago – $57,170 
  • Philadelphia – $52,750 
  • Washington DC – $70,910 

Healthcare social workers  

  • New York – $65,890 
  • Boston – $66,440 
  • Los Angeles – $81,660 
  • Chicago – $62,870 
  • Dallas – $67,020 

Mental health and substance abuse workers  

  • New York – $82,820 
  • Los Angeles – $78,020 
  • Boston – $54,990  
  • Washington DC – $66,750 
  • Philadelphia – $51,920 

Touro University Worldwide Social Work Programs 

Touro University Worldwide provides students with a variety of options to earn their degree in social work, preparing them with skills that are always in demand. Earning a degree in these programs gives social workers the skills they need to qualify for meaningful jobs in places around the country. 

The online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work includes a curriculum that covers the core concepts in social work, from ethics and social policy to the best practices for interviews and assessments. Students also can take electives in areas such as domestic violence, victim advocacy, child abuse, and international social work. 

Students also have the option of pursuing a  Master of Science in Human Services and a Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) with a concentration in Public Health. Both programs prepare graduates for leadership positions in social work-related fields. 

All the programs are 100% online, giving students the flexibility needed to earn a degree from wherever they live while working full-time. All TUW programs are student-centered, with smaller class sizes and faculty members picked for their expertise and experience in the field they teach. 

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