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The Complete Guide to Social Work

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The Complete Guide to a Career in Social Work

While there are many types of social work, they all serve one primary mission: helping people. Most focus on enhancing the lives of those most vulnerable — a role that offers significant meaning, variety, and satisfaction to those who fill it. Social workers help individuals by targeting both their external environment and their means to change their circumstances. They help people of every background and age throughout the country. If you are interested in becoming a social worker, our Health Care division frequently has amazing new opportunities.

The job duties of social workers vary greatly based on their specialty and work setting. If a career like this feels right to you, there are many options to find your perfect fit.

What Exactly Do Social Workers Do?

Social workers help people navigate problems in their lives and prevent new problems from developing. When a person is in crisis or dealing with a problem, they don’t have the resources to solve. Therefore, professionals can help them work through the complexities of their situation.

In a typical day, a social worker may identify and evaluate a client’s needs, address the needs of an individual client or a group, and work to improve a community.

Where Are Social Workers Employed?

There are many settings that employ social workers, including:

• Healthcare agencies and hospitals

• Child welfare agencies

• Human service agencies

• Schools

• Local, state, or federal government agencies

• Community outreach and development centers

• Crisis and counseling agencies

Responsibilities expected in each setting may differ. For example, a school social worker may collaborate with teachers, administrators, and parents to improve a child’s social skills and academic performance. In contrast, a hospital social worker often helps patients transition to a different level of care.

A title like the one above applies to a role in a specific environment. However, some types of work can be done in multiple settings to accomplish similar goals.

What Are Different Types of Social Work?

As the field has evolved, this nature of work has changed. Instead of solely supporting those most vulnerable, professionals are found in every aspect of community life.

Social Work Administration

Social work administrators work in public or private agencies providing services to their clients. They understand social policies and available social services and may offer projections to ensure they meet the community’s needs now and in the future.

Advocacy In Social Work

Advocacy goes hand in hand with social work, promoting the rights of individuals and communities to achieve social justice. In this case, professionals organize community drives and events to address inequalities.

Justice and Corrections Social Work

The justice and correctional system employs social workers to help clients navigate the judicial system as victim advocates and parole officers. In addition, such professionals work with law enforcement and the judicial system in rape crisis centers, correctional facilities, and police departments.

Public Welfare and Policy Social Work

Public welfare social workers identify social problems and issues, conduct research, develop and propose legislation, and implement programs and training. In addition, they offer different approaches to problem-solving and help create more productive methods to inspire change.

Mental Health and Clinical Social Work

Mental health services often rely on clinical social workers to provide therapeutic support for community members who experience mental health concerns. Clinical professionals such as these are vital in rural and urban areas where mental health care options are limited.

Child Welfare Social Work

Child welfare social workers help families provide safe and nurturing environments for children. When that’s not possible, they intervene. Thus, they’re able to protect children and ensure they receive the support necessary to keep them safe and thriving.

Social Work for the Aging

Many older adults are vulnerable due to declining physical, psychological, and social health. Social workers connect older adults with services that allow them to continue to live independently and maximize their quality of life.

Social Work for the Developmentally Disabled

Those with developmental disabilities and their families may require support from social workers Professionals can help others to understand their legal rights, discover special services, and gain independence.

What Are Social Work Qualifications?

The desire to help others is essential to becoming a social worker. Those who are socially aware, empathetic, and compassionate all thrive in this role. However, there are other qualifications necessary to fill this role.


The minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). However, those with a degree in a similar field, such as sociology, psychology, and public health, may be qualified for entry-level jobs.

Those seeking higher-level jobs typically require a master’s degree in social work (MSW). The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits MSW programs, ensuring they meet specific curriculum requirements and standards.

Entry-Level Social Work Jobs

As many states are moving toward requiring a master’s degree to practice social work, it can be difficult to find entry-level positions. In addition, many entry-level social work opportunities don’t necessarily use the words “social work” or “social service” in their title. These positions still use your bachelor’s degree and serve as steppingstones to getting the experience necessary to fulfilling your licensing requirements.

Some key entry-level social work positions to keep an eye out for include:

Direct Support Professional

Direct support professionals (DSP) are given a rewarding opportunity to work with individuals with developmental disabilities helping them achieve their goals and reach independence. As a DSP, you are there to encourage and guide people to practice personal choice.

If you are eager to get started and provide a difference in people’s lives, check out our DSP opportunities today!

Program Coordinator or Director

Organizations often hire recent graduates or those seeking a career in social work for program coordinator or director roles to organize programs and support the administration of events and services.

Those seeking a long-term role in social work leadership can gain valuable experience with these program coordinator positions, especially while pursuing an advanced degree and licensure.


Paraprofessionals are given a rewarding and life changing opportunity to help children with educational and behavioral needs. As a paraprofessional, your main tasks will be to support children individually and in groups, typically in a classroom setting. This key role is vital to students with disabilities’ success, as they are committed to working on behavior management and being a main line of support for the student.

If you are interested in becoming a paraprofessional, check out our amazing new paraprofessional opportunities today!

Group Home Workers

Group homes can be a transition for those leaving a more intense program or a long-term option for adults with developmental disabilities. In addition, they offer a great starting point for entry-level social workers, as they often have positions that don’t require licensure.

As a group home worker, you may help those receiving support through the group home, with duties including arranging transportation, connecting residents with programs and services, and assisting with daily activities. The nature of the role will depend on the group home environment and the needs fulfilled by the staff.

Mental Health Workers

An entry-level job in mental health may include a support staff position in a counseling center, group home, or a supportive role at a hospital.

Those interested in a position as a clinical social worker can build experience as they pursue a master’s degree program.

Substance Abuse Counselors

Most BSW degrees require coursework in addiction counseling and group therapy, enabling a new graduate to understand the factors that can lead to addiction.

In a role as a substance abuse counselor, an entry-level social worker receives hands-on experience helping those struggling with addiction and the subsequent challenges they face.

Part-Time Social Work Jobs

If you hope to finish your master’s degree while working or trying to juggle your positions alongside a busy personal life, pursuing part-time social work jobs may be the best option for your needs.

Professionals can find part-time positions at all levels, as many clinical roles require weekend or evening coverage. Some popular part-time roles include:

• Behavioral or eating disorder social workers

• Case manager or caseworker

• Discharge planning social worker

• Hospice social worker

• Senior care social worker

• Outreach manager

• Re-entry specialist social worker

• School social worker

Many of the above roles require home visits and hours outside of a traditional 9-5 role, allowing for more flexibility and the ability to take on a part-time caseload. At TemPositions we offer many part-time opportunities for work, as well as various healthcare positions. We understand that everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to their career path, which is why we let you decide what days you want to work. If you are interested in part time social work check out our latest opportunities!

Remote Social Work Jobs

In recent years, remote work has become increasingly popular, even in people-focused roles like social work. While remote social work jobs are still relatively new, there are more opportunities available all the time.

Online Social Work Instructor

Many universities are adding to their online course opportunities, increasing the demand for adjunct professors comfortable teaching online. In addition, licensed social workers interested in sharing their knowledge and expertise in a virtual classroom can find both tenure-track full-time and part-time jobs.

Online social work instructor positions generally require an MSW.

Case Managers

Health organizations that require home visits for patients and families in need now require little, if any, time in the office. Field care case managers assess and evaluate their needs, develop treatment or support plans, and implement any interventions necessary for their clients’ well-being. Case Manager duties consist of assessment, crisis intervention, and financial assistance.

You’ll need a state license, MSW, and two to three years of experience to qualify for these positions. If you are interested in becoming a case manager, check out our Health Care find work page for more information!

Mental Health Coach or Therapist

Licensed social workers with experience and advanced degrees can find remote social work jobs counseling clients online or via phone through several counseling services. As a mental health coach or therapist, you’ll complete behavioral assessments, create treatment plans, offer health coaching, and assist clients in overcoming the barriers to receiving the services they need.

With this as your path, you’ll require licensure as a social worker. In addition, you’ll want experience providing patients with therapy for common conditions. These conditions include depression, anxiety, stress, and other challenges.

Highest Paying Social Work Jobs

While social work is often associated with essential and meaningful work, it’s rarely chosen as a lucrative profession. However, like most careers, there is a pay scale, and skilled social workers can find fulfilling and prosperous positions.

Director of Corporate Responsibility

Social work used to only focus on people living in poverty. Now, though, there is now a new trend toward social workers supporting corporate America. As consumers navigate toward socially responsible corporations, the need for guidance in public health and safety, education, community development, and diversity becomes critical.

The corporate space has also embraced social workers for their skills and training in healthy communication, struggles with transition and change, and interpersonal concerns, such as harassment and bullying.

Professor of Social Work

Professors of social work often combine teaching and research to design curriculum plans, create engaging class discussions and study the best practices for providing social services to the community.

Said professors also produce and publish articles and studies, staying current with the trends and topics critical to the field. For a professor of social work to meet the Council on Social Work Education accreditation standards, they need to hold a Ph.D. They also must maintain their accreditation through continuing education and research.

Veteran’s Affairs Social Worker

In a widely cited study titled “The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers” (Army STARRS), researchers found that major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder rates are significantly higher among soldiers than the general population.

Veteran’s Affairs (VA) social workers are essential in providing support for service members. They work with veterans as they receive mental health services. This ensures access to available services and confirming they have adequate family and community support.

The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs employs social workers throughout the country at VA medical centers and VA programs. Additionally, these roles are among the highest-paying social work jobs.

Discover New Opportunities in Social Work

Whether you’re a new graduate seeking an entry-level social work job or an experienced, licensed social worker, there are ample career opportunities for qualified candidates in social work.

You can apply to be a social worker today through TemPositions. We offer various healthcare roles for social workers of all experience levels. At TemPositions, we care about finding you the best opportunities which is why we pair you with specialized recruiters who give each candidate personalized attention. 

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