Social Work Careers

Social workers are the unsung heroes of our society. They advocate for the vulnerable, help underserved populations, and give a voice to those who might not be heard otherwise.

By earning an online Master of Social Work from Ohio University, you can prepare to play a leading role in advocating and facilitating change on behalf of individuals, families, groups, and organizations. Our CSWE-accredited program offers a path for social workers who want to grow professionally, as well as career changers who aspire to create a lasting impact in their communities.

Continue reading to learn more about the state of the social work field and career options that may be available to you after you earn your master’s degree.

What Is the Job Outlook for Social Workers?

Employment of social workers is expected to increase 12% from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There will be roughly 78,300 job openings per year over this time frame.

The BLS further breaks down employment projections based on specializations within the field.

  • Job opportunities for mental health and substance abuse social workers are projected to increase by 15%. More people seeking treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, as well as an increase in the number of drug offenders being sent to treatment programs rather than jail, are some of the reasons for the rise in employment.
  • Child, family, and school social workers are anticipated to see a 13% rise in the number of jobs. Much of the demand for their services will be focused on preventing child abuse, finding alternative homes for children whose families can’t care for them, and working with adults to strengthen parenting skills.
  • Employment of healthcare social workers is also projected to grow 13% during this time. They will primarily be needed to help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications, and lifestyles.

Where Do Social Workers Work?

Social workers help people in all facets of society. As such, there is a need for their services in a wide range of environments. Places where social workers are employed include:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Mental health clinics
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Child welfare and human service agencies
  • Community development corporations
  • Government agencies
  • Private practice
  • Prisons
  • Nonprofit organizations

Career Options for Master of Social Work Graduates

Your online master’s in social work can prepare you to excel in numerous roles within the field.  Below are examples of job titles you can hold, along with median salaries.

  • Marriage and Family Therapist

    Median salary: $51,340*

    Marriage and family therapists counsel couples or families to help them overcome conflicts or reconcile differences. Typical tasks might include performing assessments, diagnosing mental disorders, developing treatment plans, and helping clients communicate more effectively.

  • Substance Abuse Counselor

    Median salary: $55,450**

    Substance abuse counselors provide support, guidance, and treatment to help individuals who are struggling with addiction to substances such as drugs or alcohol. Their job can include performing assessments, developing treatment plans, leading individual or group therapy sessions, and helping patients avoid relapses.

  • Community Outreach Director

    Median salary: $51,529***

    Community outreach directors organize and lead support programs for living centers or medical organizations. Their role involves acting as a liaison among employees, volunteers, patients and the community to generate awareness of outreach efforts and successfully manage programs. Other responsibilities associated with the job include hiring and mentoring staff, writing press releases, and acting as a representative of the organization.

  • Executive Directors of a Nonprofit Organization

    Median salary: $79,329***

    Executive directors of nonprofit organizations serve a similar role to that of a CEO. They are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the nonprofit’s operations and ensuring it is working toward achieving its mission. In addition, they are often in charge of supervising staff and volunteers, meeting financial goals and reporting to the board of directors.

  • Foster Care Social Worker

    Median salary: $48,145**

    Foster care social workers help children in the foster care system resolve emotional or behavioral issues. Often these children have been mentally or physically abused and may be struggling with feelings of abandonment. Responsibilities may include providing mental health counseling, teaching parenting skills, conducting check-ins, and helping other family members acclimate to the new living situation.

  • Geriatric Social Worker

    Median salary: $50,013**

    Geriatric social workers, also known as gerontological social workers, specialize in helping older adults receive the mental, emotional and social support they need. Responsibilities may include conducting assessments, collaborating with doctors to develop treatment plans, managing discharges, and connecting patients with community resources. These professionals can work in inpatient or outpatient settings.


Lifelong Career Support

With so many opportunities available to you, choosing the right career track might feel overwhelming. That’s where we can help. When you earn your Master of Social Work from OHIO, you become a Bobcat for life.

Whether it’s lifetime access to career coaching or networking opportunities with more than 250,000 fellow OHIO alumni, you can take comfort in knowing that we’ll be with you every step of the way as you strive to achieve your professional goals.