Planning for a Career in Social Work

Amanda writes:
I am having some problems deciding on what I want to major in for college. I’ve taken
a year and a half of general courses so far. I know that I am great with people and
would like to help people throughout my life. My plan was to get a master’s in social
work but I have been told that social work can be hard to find a good job. I want
something that deals with people where I’ll earn pretty decent money and won’t
be in school for the next 6-7 years. Do you have any suggestions?

The Career Doctor responds:
You’ve already taken a big step — taking the time to discover your strengths and interests.
Now is the time to do a bit more career research as you fine-tune a major and think about
gaining work experience.
Social work is most certainly a career path for people interested in helping others improve
their lives. And it is most certainly a growth career with many states reporting shortages
of qualified social-service professionals. You’re not going to get rich working in the social
work field but you can make a decent living. Many social workers see their profession
as a calling.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook employment of social workers is
expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through at least 2016.
Furthermore the Handbook reports that median annual earnings of child family and
school social workers were $39530 in May 2008.
Read more.
And while you can get a job in social work with a bachelor’s degree (usually in social
work sociology psychology or other related majors) a master’s in social work is
required for many of the better positions — and is certainly needed for career advancement.
I suggest you talk with your professors and the professionals in your career services office.
I also suggest you consider getting some social work experience as soon as you can
most likely through volunteering or an internship. You should also consider conducting
several informational interviews with social work professionals.
Some online resources that can help you better understand a career in social work –
as well as find job listings and salary information:

Finally remember you still have plenty of time in choosing a major so take your time and
consider all your options. For more help with choosing a major consider reading my
article Choosing a
College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path
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