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What Can You Do With a Major in Social Work?

Social work degree programs prepare students to help clients and patients to deal with problems in everyday life, from poverty to unemployment. Students in a social work major can earn a bachelor's or master's degree.

Career Options for Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there are numerous types of social workers, including those in clinical, geriatric, child and family, school, medical and mental health specialties. With a bachelor's degree, which is the minimum education needed to work as a social worker, graduates can pursue careers as licensed social workers, case managers or social services directors. Examples of jobs for master's degree holders include mental health therapist and executive director.

Salary Information

According to payscale.com, as of January 2016, the entry-level salary for a social worker ranges from $29,233 - $53,009 annually. MSW (Master of Social Work) degree holders with less than one year of experience can expect a median salary of $40,891.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Universities often have specific schools or departments of social work or sociology that offer the major of social work. This field consists of a combination of social work, social sciences, and other liberal arts courses required to work in this field upon graduation. Students take introductory courses in psychology as part of the curriculum to understand social systems and human behavior. After four years of study, this degree program often amounts to a Bachelor of Social Work, which qualifies graduates for entry-level social worker positions.

Master's Degree in Social Work

Master's degree programs for prospective social workers typically lead to a Master of Social Work (MSW). This program type may be meant to prepare current professionals for more responsibility in their field, although many options are available for individuals with very little prior training or experience.

Common Curriculums

Required courses may include elementary statistics, human behavior, social welfare and communication. In addition to these courses, students are often required to satisfy internships at local healthcare centers, welfare offices, schools, and government agencies during their undergraduate career. These internships help them understand how social workers assist clients, including homeless children and families.

Graduate students can expect to learn strategies for specific problems, such as poverty reduction, influencing government policy and the obstacles faced by current or developing non-profit organizations. Courses may address research technology, social welfare policy, mental health practice, community services, family services and youth services.

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