9 Different Types of Social Work Jobs

Social work is a career that offers plenty of job opportunities for people who want to work for a cause so get to know the different types of social work jobs if you're looking for self-fulfillment.

A group of social workers.

People do social work with the main motive to improve other people’s lives. It entails giving back to the same society in which you were bred and is done with the intention of working for a good cause. Social workers put to use their knowledge and skills in order to make a lasting social, cultural, and economic impact on people’s lives. To most people, it gives a feeling of self-fulfillment and satisfaction. It keeps people grounded and constantly aware of the problems that others are going through.

This motivates them to keep working for this cause and be very thankful for how peaceful their own lives are. For people working in this sector, the future looks very bright, with a lot of job opportunities for people who want to enter into this line of work. In 2011, this career was ranked number 4 out of 20 by CNN, and U.S. News and World Report ranked this career at number 18 out of 25 on the best jobs list.

Levels of Practice of Social Work
Stairs and an arrow in a conceptual image

Social work is generally broken down into 3 different levels. These are micro, mezzo, and macro. Each level is explained in detail below.

Micro Level

This is mainly focused on the individual and family level. It involves solving their problems, empowering them, and locating resources for them. This level includes individual therapy, family therapy, and substance abuse counseling. Any direct services that do not have a clinical component are a part of this level.

Mezzo Level

This is focused on working with small groups of people. It involves helping groups of people suffering from substance abuse or working with an organization to bring about a change. Oftentimes, social work entails a combination of both the micro-level and the mezzo level in order to bring about individual, family, or cultural change.

Macro Level

The macro-level is mainly focused on a broader scope of work. This can be on a societal or communal level. Administration, lobbying, and research are all a part of this particular level of social work. A lot of work that is done on the micro and mezzo levels is also done at this level, but the scope is beyond the individual and small groups, and can often affect hundreds and thousands of people.

Benefits of Social Work

It Is a Growing Field

The field of social work is expanding at a swift pace, which has prompted a lot of people to choose a career in social work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2026, the demand for social workers will go up by about 16%. This approximates to around 110,000 new jobs in the next few years. Apart from that, it also pays a decent amount of money.

Self-Satisfaction

The amount of self-satisfaction that a person gets when he gives back to society in any way possible is massive. It makes you feel like you are on the right track are doing the right things in life. It also makes you very grateful for what you have in life that other people don’t. You end up feeling more aware of what problems other people are going through in life.

Making a Difference

The biggest advantage of social work is that you can make a difference in society. You can bring about a positive change by helping those in need. There are many people who want to make a lasting impact in the world but are not doing anything about it or don’t know where to start. Social workers, on the other hand, do make a difference in society. This change does not happen overnight. It takes a while, but the impact is seen as a ripple effect after some time.

Aligned with Core Principles

A lot of people choose to be social workers because the work is in line with their own values. This way, the work doesn’t seem like work anymore. It just seems to them like an extension of what their values in life are. A lot of people in this sector are there because of their own personal experiences or because of something that they might have gone through. This field allows you to live on the principles of fairness, justice, respect, and dignity.

Variety of Job Choices

There is a wide variety of jobs to choose from in this field. You can choose the one that you feel suits you best based on your own set of skills and interests. Mental health, substance abuse counseling, family counseling, child counseling, school social work, and healthcare social work are a few of the choices a person can pick from.

Types of Social Work Jobs

Child Welfare Social WorkerBuilding blocks used to form the word “benefits”

This is a demanding social work job that mainly entails investigating if a child needs to remain home or should be placed somewhere else and determining what is in the child’s best interest. A child welfare worker has to provide services to connect families with community services like parenting classes, childcare, substance abuse treatment, or family counseling. This job also entails ensuring that children are protected from all sorts of mistreatment like neglect and abuse.

Child welfare social workers investigate households and families and perform assessments to check that the child is safe at their current place of living. This job has very high levels of stress and can be emotionally draining due to the complexity and the nature of the situations that child welfare social workers often find themselves in. It can even involve separating families and conflicts of interest.

Direct Service Social WorkerSocial workers helping young children

Workers in this domain focus on delivering direct services to people. Their work varies greatly from case to case and situation to situation. This includes child social work, family social work, school social work, community social work, military social work, medical social work, and palliative social work.

Direct service social workers address a wide variety of issues. These can be cultural, social, or health-related. These workers mainly help people get more independent, stable, make them able enough to stand on their own feet. They give support to those who are suffering from any kind of trauma, loss, or substance abuse. They also assist those who are suffering from chronic illnesses by giving them emotional and physical support.

Gerontology Social WorkerA social worker at work

This type of job entails working with people in the older age bracket. Gerontology social workers help older adults cope with the complications of getting old, both mentally and physically. They use social interventions and clinical interventions to help people improve their lives and the lives of their families.

They deal with issues like older people scams, elder people abuse, long term care facilities, in-home assistance, assistance in dealing with grief, and assistance in dealing with end of life plans. These social workers also connect the elderly to other sources that can give them additional support or resources.

This job also comes with a lot of challenges like managing the conflicts of interests that may arise between different concerned parties, hearing out depressing stories of grief and old age problems and making meaningful connections with the clients and their families. These social workers can work at hospitals and medical centers.

Medical/Public Health Social Worker

This job entails having to provide medical care to ill people at hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers. These sick people either have some sort of disability or have some kind of life-threatening issue. For that, they need help to cope up with the problems that come with their illness, both mental and physical.

These social workers have to conduct research and develop policies for better healthcare for these ill people.  For those people who need psychological support because of the mental trauma that they are going through because of their disease, these workers provide counseling and also advise their family members or caregivers. This job also involves running support groups for people suffering from these diseases so that they are aware of the best way to deal with issues in different circumstances.

Mental Health Social WorkerA social worker doing her job

Around 26% of people suffer from mental problems once every year. This increases the demand for such mental health workers. Mental health social workers help those suffering from mental and emotional disorders. These disorders include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They diagnose and assess the mental disorders, make their treatment plans, and help patients manage themselves in different situations.

For this job, a person needs to have a master’s degree in this field and a license to work as a clinical social worker. This is because this job entails having to deal with people’s mental issues and providing therapy to them. In addition to the educational qualifications, they might also need to have a clinical practice.

These workers are also in touch with the family members of the people who are suffering so that they can counsel them about the different ways of dealing with mental health issues that they loved ones are suffering from. These social workers work at clinics, hospitals, government agencies, recovery centers, and at their own private care setups.

Palliative & Hospice Care Social WorkersA social worker doing work

This job involves social workers that help to relieve or prevent pain that is happening due to any serious, chronic problems. Palliative care focuses on giving people the help and care that they need when their life is about to end. These people have 6 months or less to live and are in excruciating pain due to their illness.

Social workers in this fieldwork directly with patients either at their own offices or the patients’ homes. These people help patients move slowly towards death by helping them cope with the pain in a compassionate and tender way. They are trained and are aware of a variety of techniques to help with emotional distress and pain management.

It is imperative that the social worker knows the patient, the patient’s history, and the patient’s family history in order to help him better manage the pain of the patient and find a way to ease their suffering. They also help the family members come to terms with the fact that a member of the family is going to leave them soon. They counsel them and give them ways to handle this big loss. They also assist with funeral planning and the paperwork that follows right after the death of a loved one.

Research Social WorkerA social worker doing her research work

This type of job involves the social worker supporting social and societal changes alongside helping to make progressive policies with the help of the research work that they do. This involves publishing articles with the latest and updated data, giving professional guidance, and assessing governmental and administrative policies.

Research social workers need to have a Ph.D. in their field or in the field of academia so that the research they are conducting is validated. They have to identify problems, make comparisons, and find the best solution for said problems.

School Social WorkerA social worker working with a young girl at school

This is the most popular area of social work. It involves working with the parents, teachers, students, and the school administration to provide the best policies and care for the students at the school. School social workers have to help students facing any kinds of problems in their lives. They have to train teachers and the other staff to be informed about factors that affect the education system and the students, and they have to deal with issues like child abuse and child neglect at school.

They also work closely with parents to devise a system that is productive for their kids in terms of learning and also in terms of their mental health. They make education plans for students, too.

Substance Abuse Social WorkersA social worker talking with a young man.

Such social workers deal with those people who have addictions of any kind to certain drugs or are involved in substance abuse of any kind. These substances could be alcohol or any other illegal drugs. Substance abuse social workers help such people overcome what they are facing by counseling them or by assisting them in


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