Social Work Profession
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022. More than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees.
Who is a social worker?
- Social workers are highly trained and experienced professionals. Only those who have earned social work degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levelsâ€”and completed a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldworkâ€”are professional social workers.
- Based on findings from the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Survey, there were 35,107 full-time juniors and seniors enrolled as of fall 2011; there were 5,262 part-time juniors and seniors enrolled as of fall 2011 in the 195 baccalaureate programs that reported offering a part-time program. The total enrollment of full-time master’s students was 30,755; the total enrollment of part-time master’s students was 18,481. The total enrollment of full-time doctoral students was 1,815; the total enrollment of part-time doctoral students was 760.
- During the 2010â€“2011 academic year, 14,662 baccalaureate degrees were awarded by social work programs; 20,573 master’s degrees were awarded; and 321 doctoral degrees were awarded. (CSWE)
- In 2011, 426 social work programs reported having 4,730 full-time faculty and 5,095 part-time faculty. (CSWE)
What do social workers do?
- Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need.
- The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.
- Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.
- Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.
Who employs social workers?
- Professional social workers are found in every facet of community lifeâ€”in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, private practices, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies that serve individuals and families in need. Many also serve as social and community service directors.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), professional social workers are the nation’s largest group of mental health services providers. There are more clinically trained social workersâ€”over 200,000â€”than psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined. Federal law and the National Institutes of Health recognize social work as one of five core mental health professions.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employs more than 10,000 professional social workers. It is one of the largest employers of MSWs in the United States.
- More than 40% of all disaster mental health volunteers trained by the American Red Cross are professional social workers.
- There are hundreds of social workers in national, state and local elected office, including two U.S. Senators and seven U.S. Representatives. These include: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9), Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-4), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-3) and Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53).
- Today, almost 50 special interest organizations contribute to the vitality and influence of the social work profession. There are social work groups for educators and researchers, as well as organizations for practitioners in health care leadership, nephrology, oncology, child welfare, schools, prisons, courts, and many other settings.
- Get additional facts from the NASW Center for Workforce Studies: http://workforce.socialworkers.org
- Learn how social workers help individuals, groups and families across the lifespan: www.HelpStartsHere.org
- Explore how the media covers social workers and social work issues: www.SocialWorkersSpeak.org
- Purchase publications about social work practice and related public policy: www.NASWPress.org
- Find a School of Social Work in your state: www.BeASocialWorker.org