School Social Worker Job Description
School social workers specialize in working with school-aged children, their parents, teachers, and school administrators to help students cope with a wide range of issues and perform well academically. These professionals typically work full-time in an office within a school but may need to travel to serve multiple schools in the area. Here we explore other aspects of a school social worker's job in more detail including what they do, how much they make, and what education is required.
Responsibilities of a School Social Worker
School social workers aim to help students grow socially and academically. Depending on the student, they may do this by helping students resolve issues like bullying, school absences, and other conflicts. They may also help students cope with disabilities, behavior management, and mental health issues. Other job duties for a school social worker may include:
- Counseling students
- Creating individualized plans to help students improve
- Managing case records
- Reporting any child abuse or neglect
- Educating parents on available resources to help their child
- Providing some teacher training (i.e. in behavior management)
- Attending educational planning meetings
- Advocating for students, families, and resources
School Social Worker Salary
According to PayScale.com, school social workers made a median salary of $48,452, as of September 2019. This salary increased with years of experience, as school social workers with 10 to 19 years of experience made an average of $54,120 and those with 20 years or more made an average of $62,334.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups school social workers with child and family social workers and reported that these professionals that worked in elementary and secondary schools had the highest average annual salary at $63,000 for 2018. In general, the BLS stated that child, family, and school social workers made an average salary of $49,760.
School Social Worker Job Outlook
The BLS also reported that from 2018 to 2028, school social workers are expected to add 3,500 jobs. This means that school social worker jobs boast an outlook of 6% over this time period. The BLS states that the need for school social workers will increase with enrollment, but that budgetary constraints may slow the creation of new positions.
Students interested in knowing what it takes to become a social worker should know that most social workers in a nonclinical setting need a bachelor's degree. Those in a clinical setting need a master's degree.
For school social workers, this usually means first earning a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), which is available in on-campus and online formats. Many of these students will then go on to earn their Master of Social Worker (MSW). These programs are also available in online formats. Some schools may offer a licensure program at the bachelor's and/or master's level specifically for school social workers. In addition to a wide range of other social worker certificate programs, some schools provide graduate-level certificates in school social work that can be pursued while earning an MSW.
Most states require social workers to be licensed. Depending on the state, some school social workers may be able to apply for school social work licensure after graduating with a bachelor's or master's from a Council on Social Work Education-accredited social work program. Other school social workers may choose to pursue a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) after earning their MSW.