Degree for Social Work – Become a Social Worker

Are you interested in a career dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact on society? Social work might be the perfect path for you. To become a social worker, you’ll need a degree in social work from an accredited college or university program. These programs equip you with the knowledge, values, and skills necessary to advocate for individuals, families, and communities facing challenges.

Degree for Social Work

There are different social work degrees available, each catering to various career goals.  This introduction will explore the different types of social work degrees and how they can help you launch a fulfilling career in social work.

Why Choose a Degree in Social Work?

Social work offers a unique blend of personal fulfillment and professional challenge. Here are some compelling reasons to consider this rewarding field:

  • Make a Difference: Social workers directly address critical social issues like poverty, mental health, addiction, and child welfare. You’ll have the opportunity to empower individuals and families to overcome challenges and reach their full potential.
  • Diverse Career Options: Social work offers a wide range of career paths in various settings. You can work in schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, child welfare agencies, non-profit organizations, and more.
  • Strong Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% growth in social work jobs by 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,].
  • Competitive Salaries: Social workers earn a median annual wage of $51,120 (May 2022) with salaries varying depending on experience, location, and specialization [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,].
  • Develop Valuable Skills: Social work equips you with essential skills like communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, cultural competency, and advocacy. These skills are highly transferable and valuable across various professions.

What Can You Do with a Social Work Degree?

The beauty of a social work degree lies in its versatility. Here’s a glimpse into the diverse career paths you can explore:

  • Child, Youth, and Family Services: Work with children in foster care, families facing challenges, and youth navigating difficult life transitions.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Support individuals facing mental health or addiction issues, providing counseling and resources.
  • Healthcare Social Work: Assist patients and families in navigating healthcare systems, providing emotional support and advocacy.
  • School Social Work: Promote well-being within schools, supporting students, families, and educators.
  • Community Organizing: Empower communities to advocate for themselves, addressing systemic issues and promoting social change.

And many more.

Types of Social Work Degrees

Social work programs are offered at various levels, catering to different career aspirations and academic backgrounds.  Here’s an overview of the most common options:

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW): This is the entry-level degree for social work careers. It provides a foundation in social work theory, practice, and ethics.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW): This advanced degree qualifies graduates for clinical licensure, allowing them to provide therapy and diagnose mental health conditions. It’s also preferred for many leadership positions in social work. Some MSW programs offer specializations in areas like child welfare, mental health, or school social work.
  • Advanced Standing MSW: This accelerated program is designed for individuals with a BSW who want to earn their MSW in a shorter timeframe.

Considerations When Choosing a Social Work Program

  • Accreditation: Ensure your chosen program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation guarantees that the program meets rigorous quality standards.
  • Program Format: Consider your learning style and schedule. Traditional on-campus programs offer a collaborative learning environment, while online programs provide flexibility for working adults. Hybrid programs combine elements of both.
  • Specializations: Explore programs with specializations aligned with your specific interests, such as gerontology, military social work, or substance abuse counseling.
  • Financial Aid: Research scholarships, grants, and loan options to help finance your education. Many universities offer financial aid specifically for social work students.

Building Your Social Work Career

A social work degree provides the foundation for a successful career. However, gaining practical experience through internships and volunteer work is crucial.  Many social work programs require internships as part of the curriculum.

Consider these additional steps to enhance your career prospects:

  • Network: Attend social work conferences and events to build connections with professionals in the field.
  • Develop Your Skills: Participate in workshops and trainings to strengthen your clinical skills, cultural competency, and advocacy expertise.
  • Licensure: Pursue relevant licensure based on your career goals. An MSW typically leads to clinical licensure, allowing for independent practice.
  • Lifelong Learning: The social work field is constantly evolving. Stay updated on the latest trends and research through continuing education opportunities.


Can I get a social work job with a bachelor’s degree?

Yes, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) qualifies you for many entry-level social work positions. However, an MSW is required for clinical licensure and some leadership roles.

How long does it take to get a social work degree?

A BSW program typically takes four years to complete, while an MSW program can take one to two years, depending on the format.

What are the career options with a social work degree?

Social workers can work in various settings, including hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, child welfare agencies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

Is a social work degree worth it?

If you are passionate about helping others and making a difference, a social work degree can be a highly rewarding and valuable investment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong job growth and competitive salaries for social workers.


A degree in social work equips you with the knowledge, skills, and compassion to make a real difference in the lives of others. With a growing job market, competitive salaries, and diverse career paths, social work offers a rewarding and fulfilling professional journey.  By considering the factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision about pursuing a social work degree and pave the way for a successful and impactful career.