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Career Info for a Social Services or Public Administration Degree

Social services or public administration degrees are generally broad-based programs that prepare students for careers that serve the public good. Continue reading for an overview of the programs, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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A degree in social services or public administration can be an ideal educational foundation for a career as a social worker or a nonprofit manager. Social workers are required to have a bachelor's degree, be licensed by their state, and may also need a master's degree in social work. Nonprofit managers need a bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Students in social work programs learn about topics such as drug and alcohol counseling, community development and psychology. Public administration programs cover topics such as leadership, financial management and policy development. Some people might choose to obtain dual degrees in both majors or continue their education in relevant graduate programs.

Career Social Worker Nonprofit Manager
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree
Bachelor of Social Work
Master of Social Work
Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Supervised clinical work requirements and state licensure N/A
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% 10% for all social and community service managers
Median Salary (2015)* $45,900 $63,530

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Degree programs in social services or public administration prepare students for careers to help people in need. Graduates of social services or public administration degree programs might enter social work or nonprofit management.

Social Worker

Social workers are committed to making a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Using their knowledge of psychology, sociology and counseling practices, they train, educate, advocate for and assist clients with a wide variety of issues. These clients may be violence and abuse victims, drug addicts, alcoholics, children in poverty or homeless individuals. While a degree in social services or public administration may qualify students for employment as a social worker, some positions require Bachelor of Social Work or Master of Social Work degrees. Social workers must also fulfill supervised clinical work requirements and pass state licensing exams to work in this profession.

Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth for social workers was anticipated to be faster than average among all occupations from 2014 to 2024, with an expected growth of 12%. The annual salary for these professionals varies by area of specialization. As of May 2015, mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a median annual wage of $42,170. Also as of May 2015, those in healthcare earned a median annual wage of $52,380, while child, family and school social workers earned a median annual salary of $42,350. The BLS reported that the median salary for all social workers was $45,900 annually, as of 2015.

Nonprofit Manager

Managers in nonprofit organizations have similar roles to their counterparts in the business community. They direct operations, make broad planning decisions, implement organization-wide strategies and manage other employees. They also engage in fundraising activities, one of the key determinants in organizational success.

Outlook and Salary Information

Employment for social and community service managers, which includes nonprofit managers, was projected to see 10% growth in employment from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. This projected growth is an effect of the field's high turnover caused by low compensation as well as an increasing need for services due to demographic changes. According to the BLS, the median wage for social and community service managers was $63,530 in 2015.

Social workers may work to help students with personal, academic or behavioral issues, or individuals with mental health or substance abuse disorders. Nonprofit managers work for nonprofit organizations and try to raise public awareness for their organization, raise funds, and oversee the organization's operations. A degree in social services or public administration can lead to a career in these fields, although additional education and a license may be necessary for those who decide to pursue a career in social work.

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