Is Social Work a Good Career?

School counselor social worker in a meeting

If you’re a high school student or a college freshman thinking about your career options, you may wonder, Is social work a good career path for me? or, Is a social work degree worth it? There are many reasons why a social work degree may be 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 field can allow you to do meaningful work that you may find personally fulfilling.

However, personal fulfillment is only one of the many reasons why being a social worker may be worth it for you. This guide explores some of the most common reasons why people choose to pursue a career in social work.

In This Article:

Is Social Work a Good Major for a Baccalaureate Degree?

When you’re considering the question, Is being a social worker 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 clinical social worker.1 However, even if you don’t want to go to graduate school, a bachelor’s degree in social work could be a worthwhile achievement.

Even without a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree can enable you to pursue a range of careers, particularly in the human services field. For example, you may choose to become a social work caseworker, also known as a case manager. Case managers 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 the services they need. Case managers are often the first point of contact for clients. They are responsible for evaluating clients, identifying their needs, and putting together a care plan to meet those needs.

Is a Social Work Degree Worth It at the Master’s Level?

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 licensed social worker. In addition to earning your master’s degree and initial license, you may desire to obtain your clinical license to work independently. For this, you’ll need to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience. Specific licensing requirements vary by state, so be sure to check your state’s criteria.1

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 as you make your decision.

Social Work Career Benefits

Now that you have a better idea of the answer to the question, Is social work a good major? 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

You may still be asking, Should I become a social worker? The best people to ask about the job satisfaction rates among social workers are the social workers themselves. According to a survey by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), most new social workers (90.4%) reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their new positions. Furthermore, 82.6% were very or somewhat satisfied with the benefits packages offered by their employers.2  

Social Workers Can Change Lives for the Better

Many students feel called to make it their life’s work to serve others. If that describes you, then this could be the reason why you should become a social worker. 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 does go 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 populations:

  • 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.3 As you can see, there is a world of possibilities available to people who decide to earn a social work degree. Some potential jobs for those with a degree in social work are:

  • School counselor
  • Crisis counselor
  • Family advocate

Social Work Is a Growing Field

Job growth is often a consideration for students who are researching career options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for social workers is estimated to be 7% from 2022 to 2032, faster than average. This indicates that employers expect to hire about 53,800 new professionals during this time period.4

Social Work Jobs and Career Paths

We’ve primarily discussed the role of the social worker and why this career path may be for you. But, what about other roles within the social work field? Even if you aren’t quite sure whether being a social worker is the right choice for you, you can choose to pursue a number of similar careers, such as those below.5

Crisis Counselor

When an individual has undergone significant trauma (e.g., sexual assault, school shooting, other acts of violence or natural disaster) they are often in need of immediate psychological first aid. Crisis counselors specialize in working on a short-term basis with survivors of trauma. The goal is to stabilize the individual’s mental and emotional state and to connect the individual to long-term resources, such as therapy and social services.5

Family Advocate

Family advocates specialize in working with families, including parents with children, to help them learn how to use better interpersonal skills and improve their relationships. A family advocate may provide general support or they may help families recover from issues such as addiction, trauma and abuse. Family advocates can work within a variety of settings, including government agencies, healthcare systems, non-profit organizations and school systems.6

School Counselor

School counselors work with students to help them overcome various barriers to academic success and personal growth. For example, a school counselor might help a student dealing with behavioral issues or chronic absenteeism. School counselors also help students develop plans for postsecondary education, vocational training and careers, and they may work with teachers and other staff members to provide education on issues like bullying.7

It’s important to note that school counselors must meet state requirements, which may include certification or licensure. In all states, public school counselors must obtain some sort of state-issued credential.8 Check the requirements for your state before finalizing your higher education plans.

Earn Your Bachelor of Social Work From GCU

If you’re passionate about pursuing a career in human services, you can begin your academic journey at Grand Canyon University. Our Bachelor of Social Work degree program teaches essential competencies in the social work field and can provide a firm foundation from which to pursue an entry-level career or graduate education. Fill out the form on this page to learn more.

1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a social worker. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2023. 

2National Association of Social Workers. (2020, Dec. 11). New report provides insights into new social workers’ demographics, income, and job satisfaction. NASW. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2024.

3National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Types of Social Work. NASW. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2024. 

4COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, retrieved on Jan. 9, 2024.

5Indeed. (2023, July 31). 15 types of social work jobs. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2024.

6Parker, S. (2023, July 26). What is a family advocate? (plus job description and skills). Indeed. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2024.

7U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). What school and career counselors and advisors do. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2024.

8U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a school or career counselor or advisor. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2024.

Approved by the director of the College of Humanities and Social Science on Feb. 20, 2024.

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.