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What is Social Work?

Social workers empower  individuals and communities to overcome challenges. We work with all people, including members of oppressed populations and people who experience vulnerability due to factors such as poverty. The National Association of Social Workers explained that the goal of social work is to “enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people…” (NASW Code of Ethics, Preamble, 2021, para. 1). Social workers achieve this through an evidence-based focus on six core values: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence (NASW Code of Ethics, Ethical Principles, 2021).

What Do Social Workers Do?

As a social worker, you can expect to collaborate with clients and communities to help them achieve their goals. This may include providing counseling to an individual with a behavioral health disorder, serving as a case manager for a patient in a hospital, or overseeing a nonprofit organization that focuses on supporting individuals affected by cancer. Social workers develop supportive professional relationships with their clients. These relationships foster a foundation of trust, and empower clients to provide insight on their strengths, needs, and abilities so that social workers can connect clients with resources and supports to help address their specific needs. Social workers use skills such as active listening, critical thinking, communication, writing, problem solving, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, research, and a variety of intervention strategies to best support their clients.

In any setting, social workers are activists. All social workers promote social justice and pursue social change. Social workers advocate for individuals and populations who are oppressed or vulnerable and offer education and insight on cultural and ethnic diversity.

What Jobs Do Social Workers Have?

Social work majors can work in a variety of different settings and positions after graduation.

This includes:

  • Private Practice Therapist
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Medical Social Worker
  • School Social Worker/School-Based Therapist
  • Grant Writer
  • Child Welfare Social Worker
  • Director of Giving (for a corporate or private company)
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Family Services Worker
  • Human Resources Professional
  • Child and Adolescent Therapist
  • Crisis Team Member
  • Community Activist
  • Gerontology Social Worker
  • Professor
  • Forensic Social Worker
  • Community Outreach Worker in a Police Department
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Victim’s Advocate
  • Group Home Social Worker
  • Nonprofit Director
  • Public Policy Analyst
  • Military Social Worker
  • Veterans Affair Case Manager
  • Community Organizer
  • Political Researcher
  • Fundraiser
  • And more!