Widener

The Top Five Careers in Social Work

The changing political landscape and shift in awareness of effective treatment for those with mental health and substance abuse issues means a rapid increase in job growth for licensed social workers with a master’s degree in social work. Health care reform gave more people access to health insurance and mandated that insurance companies cover mental health issues the same way they cover chronic diseases. This improves access to mental health care and makes it more affordable for more individuals. Additionally, more and more substance users are being sent to rehabilitation centers instead of to jail, where they can get the help they need to restore their mental and physical health.5 Lastly, the number of military veterans who seek out mental health services at the encouragement of their peers, loved ones, or supervisors is expected to increase over the next decade.1

With the influx of clients, skilled therapists and supervisors are needed across many fields to help people manage or overcome their mental health issues and live a productive life. Below is the career outlook for the top five titles for those with a master’s degree in social work.

1. Mental Health Therapists help clients with mental health issues and situational life challenges regain their emotional balance through optimized mental health. You’ll work with clients experiencing issues such as anxiety, grief, or low self-esteem, and assist clients in dealing with a wide variety of personal challenges such as the deep after effects of surviving a trauma, the trials of a sexual identity crisis, or the stresses that come with life changes.

CAREER SNAPSHOT: Mental Health Therapists
Mental health therapists are seeing an excellent overall growth rate of 20 percent, and find that individual and family services offers the most positions for employment.1

Median Pay: $41,880                Job Growth: 20%
Top Industries for Employment # of Available Jobs
Individual and Family Services 28,245
Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers 22,865
Residential, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities 16,140
Top Paying Industries Salary
State and Local Government (excluding education and hospitals $51,380
Hospitals; state, local and private $45,870
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers $41,310

2. Marriage and Family Therapists bring a family-focused perspective to treat the problem at hand, regardless of whether you see an individual, a couple, or the entire family for treatment. Counseling may start with an individual family member who needs assistance in dealing with a life challenge such as divorce, substance abuse, or managing stress, and then evolve to include other family members as the dynamic of the issue is further examined and treated.

CAREER SNAPSHOT: Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists are seeing a well-above-average growth rate of 15 percent, and that individual and family services offers the most positions for employment.1

Median Pay: $48,600                Job Growth: 15%
Top Industries for Employment # of Available Jobs
Individual and Family Services 10,110
State and Local Government (excluding hospitals) 7,751
Outpatient Care Centers 5,055
Top Paying Industries Salary
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals $69,700
Outpatient care centers $47,240
Offices of other health practitioners $45,690

3. Clinical Mental Health Supervisors work to improve the field of social work for individuals, the community, and the future. At the community level, you’ll establish friendly working relationships with those who run the resource programs your clients need, furthering their treatment by connecting the two. On an individual level, you’ll help clients when you develop and implement the treatment programs and post-treatment care plans that help clients achieve a better state of mental health. As a supervisor, you’ll improve the future of social work by developing high-level practicing clinicians and graduate interns through a learning culture. This means that you’ll promote continuing education, set professional goals, and provide supportive supervision to help them deal with the inherent stress that comes with delivering therapeutic services.

CAREER SNAPSHOT: Clinical Supervisors
Clinical supervisors in mental health care enjoy a well-above-average growth rate of 17 percent. They find that hospitals offer the most positions for employment, and can offer a median salary up to $60,000 more than average.2

Median Pay: $94,500                Job Growth: 17%
Top Industries for Employment # of Available Jobs
Hospitals; State, Local and Private 123,210
Physician Offices 3,300
Nursing and Residential Care Facilities 3,300
Top Paying Industries Salary
Hospitals; State, Local and Private $102,060
Government $101,190
Physician Offices $85,600

4. School and Career Counselors don’t get a lot of press or attention, but the skills and decisions they help students with have lifelong effects in regards to school and career choices and ultimately, a better quality of life in adulthood. In this role, you’ll help students build the necessary academic learning and decision-making skills appropriate to the student’s developmental stage of life.

  • Elementary and middle school counselors work to ensure a supportive climate for academic and personal success. You’ll meet with students, families, teachers, and administrators to discuss a child’s strengths, weaknesses, and any developmental or behavior issues. Using this information, you ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of the student and that supportive programs or allowances are implemented to help the child succeed.
  • High school counselors help students on many levels as they cross the bridge from high school student to a college student or career-ready adult. You can help students overcome personal issues that hinder their academic success and prep them for college by guiding them to the proper classes and financial information. You can direct students in their job or college search by assessing their interests and abilities to better focus their choices.
  • Career counselors work with clients throughout all stages of their professional lives. During a job search, you can help improve skills such as interviewing, networking, and resume writing, and teach strategies for how to find job openings. You can help a client determine realistic goals for their next position based upon their current abilities and knowledge base, and map out a defined career path with the steps needed to reach their professional goals. You can also work with clients to help them resolve workplace conflict, negotiate raises, and choose a new profession.

CAREER SNAPSHOT: School and Career Counselors
School and career counselors have an average growth rate of 8 percent, and find that elementary and secondary schools offer the most employment opportunity and highest-paid salaries.3

Median Pay: $53,660                Job Growth: 8%
Top Industries for Employment # of Available Jobs
Elementary and Secondary schools; State, Local and Private 123,030
Junior Colleges, Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools; State, Local and Private 90,222
Community and Vocational Rehabilitation Services 13,670
Top Paying Industries Salary
Elementary and Secondary schools; State, Local and Private $61,260
State and Local Government, Excluding Education and Hospitals $48,460
Junior Colleges, Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools; State, Local and Private $47,620

5. Child and Family Social Workers are often recognized for their role in helping children in urgent and even life-threatening situations — helping children after a traumatic event or advocating for them in a crisis situation, such as being removed from an abusive home and being placed into foster care. While you could focus your practice there, child and family social workers may also assist couples in the adoption or fostering process. You could also address problems such as bullying, teenage pregnancy, and truancy to help keep children focused on academics, personal wellness, and growth. Your goal is to improve the social and mental health of children and their families with improved communication and skill sets, and overcome specific challenges a family member faces, such as anger-management, by working with them and educators on an individual and group basis.

CAREER SNAPSHOT: Child and Family Social Workers
Child and family social workers have an average growth rate of 6 percent. They find that individual and family services offer the most employment opportunity, but that elementary and secondary schools are the highest-paid positions.4

Median Pay: $42,350                Job Growth: 6%5
Top Industries for Employment # of Jobs Held
Individual and Family Services 69,820
State Government (OES Designation) 66,180
Local Government (OES Designation) 51,380
Top Paying Industries Salary
Elementary and Secondary schools; State, Local and Private $60,750
Other Schools and Instruction $60,380
Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services $55,210

Your Career Outlook is Looking Up

Highly-skilled therapists and supervisors with a MSW degree are in great demand across multiple industries to help everyone — from children through military veterans — achieve mental health stability and lead full and productive lives. Advance your reach and help clients overcome complex challenges. To learn more about Widener University’s Online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, call 844-386-7321 or complete the request more information form and a program manager will contact you right away.

References

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm (visited September 22, 2016).

2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Medical and Health Services Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (visited September 22, 2016).

3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, School and Career Counselors, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm (visited September 23, 2016).

4 http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm

5 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (visited September 23, 2016).