Social work careers are available in a growing number of settings, such as military and veteran support, gerontology, substance abuse treatment, and child welfare. Most social workers find employment in clinical settings, working directly with individuals or small groups. Other roles, in the macro realm, emphasize broader community organizing and social justice efforts. In many fields, such as those below, career opportunities are growing rapidly.
Military Social Work
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs social workers to support our nation’s veteran population. VA offices across the country offer opportunities in roles relating to:
- treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses
- substance abuse treatment and recovery
- suicide prevention
- care and service coordination, especially for homeless veterans
Additionally, the U.S. Military employs social workers at military bases around the world. Military social workers are trained to meet the unique needs of armed forces personnel and their families. For active duty members, these needs often include mental health services, substance abuse prevention, and transitional support. Courses such as Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Mental Illnesses, a component of The Catholic University of America’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, equip social workers to empower current and former members of the armed forces to thrive and succeed.
Social workers make a positive difference in children’s lives in many ways, like working with families to establish healthy communication patterns, intervening in crisis situations, and locating foster families. Although specializing in child welfare can be emotionally challenging, these social workers enjoy the opportunity to bring about change with children and their families. Child welfare social workers often find employment in government agencies, in roles such as:
- Trauma therapist
- Case manager
- Foster care coordinator
- Child protection agent
Social Work Careers: Finding your Passion
Field education is an excellent venue for discovering your passion in the profession of social work. Students in every CSWE-accredited MSW program complete internships in local agencies, where they gain skills and knowledge surrounding a particular field of practice. Some universities, such as The Catholic University of America, welcome student input during the field placement process. This allows students to designate a specific career path of interest in order to gain experience in that specialty area. If, for example, a student hopes to work with substance abuse treatment, he or she might pursue a field internship at a rehabilitation center. Experience in the field is one factor that sets MSW alumni apart from others as they apply for social work careers.