If you’re a high school student or a college freshman and you’re thinking about your career options, you may be wondering, “Is a degree in social work worth it?” There are many reasons why a social work degree is most definitely worth your time and energy. Social work is a field that tends to attract compassionate, empathetic people who genuinely want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
This career path would allow you to do meaningful work that you’re likely to find personally fulfilling. However, personal fulfillment is far from being the only reason why the answer to “Is a social work degree worth it?” is a resounding “Yes!” This guide explores some of the most common reasons why people choose to pursue a career in social work.
Bachelor's Degree in Social Work
When you’re considering your own response to the question “Is a social work degree worth it?” it’s necessary to determine whether you’d like to go on to graduate school after earning your bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to earn a master’s degree in order to become a licensed social worker. However, even if you don’t want to go to graduate school, a bachelor’s degree in social work is definitely a worthwhile achievement.
Even without a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree can enable you to pursue a range of worthwhile careers, particularly in the human services field. For example, you may choose to become a social work caseworker, also known as a case manager. Caseworkers work with the same client populations as social workers, but in a slightly different capacity.
Rather than delivering counseling like a social worker, a case manager will connect clients to all of the services they need. Case managers are often the first point of contact for clients. They are responsible for evaluating clients and identifying their needs, and then putting together a care plan to meet those needs.
Other possible career paths for individuals with a Bachelor of Social Work degree include the following:
- Mental health aide
- Residential case manager
- Community outreach worker
- Healthcare social worker
- Family service worker
- Social Justice Advocate
Master's Degree in Social Work
If you do decide that you’d like to earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) after graduating with your baccalaureate degree, then your career path will likely involve acquiring state licensure to become a clinical social worker. In addition to earning your master’s degree, you’ll need to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience before obtaining your license. Specific licensing requirements vary by state, so do be sure to check your state’s criteria.
Only you can determine whether earning a social work degree is worth it for you. However, if you’re a compassionate and empathetic person who feels called to choose a service-oriented career, then social work could be the right choice for you. Consider the benefits of earning a social work degree (below) as you make your decision.
The Benefits of a Social Work Degree
Now that you have a better idea of the answer to the question, “Is a degree in social work worth it?” you may want to take a look at the specific benefits of a career in this field. There is a diverse range of advantages to earning a social work degree and pursuing this career field, including those listed below.
Social Work Is a Highly Recommended Profession
The best people to ask about the job satisfaction rates among social workers are the social workers themselves. According to a survey of social work professionals, more than 90% of those with an MSW and almost 94% of those with a BSW stated they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their job. Plus, over 92% of social work professionals (both MSW and BSW graduates) stated they would recommend earning a social work degree to other people.1
Social Workers Change Lives for the Better
Many students feel called to make it their life’s work to serve others. If that describes you, then social work could be the perfect career choice for you. The entire field of social work is intended to assist, uplift, empower and advocate for people who have been marginalized or are struggling with various problems.
Social Workers Can Choose From Many Subspecialties
If you picture a typical social worker in your mind, you might have a mental image of a compassionate professional who is delivering counseling services to a child who has suffered from abuse or neglect. These professionals typically do the following:
- Investigate reports of child abuse or neglect
- Determine if a child needs to be removed from a home and placed in alternative housing (e.g. foster care)
- Counsel children who have suffered from abuse or neglect, and help them develop coping skills
- Work with families to strengthen parenting skills
Although social work goes hand-in-hand with child protection, working with at-risk kids isn’t the only area of specialization available to social workers. Some professionals are healthcare social workers. They work with individuals who have been diagnosed with serious diseases, including terminal illnesses.
Healthcare social workers also help family caregivers. They provide psychosocial support, counseling and resource referrals to help patients and families access needed healthcare services and cope with changes in wellness. Other social workers specialize in the following areas:
- Incarcerated inmates
- Individuals with substance use disorders
- Unemployed people
- Victims of spousal abuse
- Victims of elder abuse
- Individuals with developmental disabilities
- Survivors of hate crimes
Some social workers even work at governmental agencies, lobbying firms or think tanks, where they may analyze policies, programs and regulations to evaluate their effects on social problems and populations. As you can see, there is a world of possibilities available to people who decide to earn a social work degree.
Social Workers Are in High Demand
There is a significant need for qualified social workers right now and well into the foreseeable future. Social workers have long been in high demand in all areas of the country, particularly in urban locations. That means if you choose to pursue a career in social work, you can look forward to robust job opportunities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for social workers is expected to be 12% through 2030. This rate of growth is faster than the average for all professions. It reflects the addition of about 78,300 new job openings for these professionals every year through the end of the decade.2
If you’re passionate about pursuing a meaningful and rewarding career in human services, you can begin your academic journey at Grand Canyon University. Our Bachelor of Social Work degree program aligns with the standards established by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Graduates will emerge with strong social work competencies, fully prepared to pursue entry-level positions or to go to graduate school to earn a Master of Social Work degree.
Explore our social work degree further by clicking on Request Info at the top of your screen.
1 Retrieved from: National Association of Social Workers, Results of the Nationwide Survey of 2017 Social Work Graduates in April 2022.
2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, retrieved on 02/01/2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.