Highest Paying Jobs with a Social Work Degree

A degree in social work will prepare graduates for a number of different careers in social work, as well as careers in counseling and social services. This article looks at some of the highest-paying career options for those with a degree in social work.

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Highest-Paying Career Options for People with a Social Work Degree

There are a number of career options that individuals with a bachelor's degree in social work can explore. The median annual salary for all occupations was $37,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This article focuses on careers that can be pursued with a bachelor's degree in social work that pay salaries higher than the median for all occupations; pursuing graduate studies will expand career options and typically lead to higher salaries.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Healthcare Social Workers $53,760 19%
Child, Family and School Social Workers $43,250 13%
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $42,700 18%
Substance Abuse and Behavior Disorder Counselors $41,070 20%
School and Career Counselors $54,560 11%
Social and Community Service Managers $64,680 16%
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists $50,160 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Highest-Paying Career Options for People with a Social Work Degree

Healthcare Social Workers

It's possible to become a healthcare social worker with a bachelor's degree in social work. Healthcare social workers often work in hospitals and they help individuals coping with illness. They can advise patients on how to modify their environment to cope with their condition once returning home and educate them about services that are available to them. With the BLS reporting a median annual income of $53,760 in 2016 for healthcare social workers, they earn one of the highest salaries of all career options for individuals with a degree in social work.

Child, Family and School Social Workers

Child, family and school social workers investigate suspected child abuse and help meet the practical needs of community members by arranging for services such as childcare. The BLS reported that in 2016, child, family and school social workers took home a median income of $43,250 per year. A bachelor's degree in social work is required for entry-level positions in this field.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

The focus of a mental health and substance abuse social worker's career is to help people who struggle with addictions or have mental health issues. Their role is to provide these individuals with the services needed to cope with their condition. With a bachelor's degree in social work, graduates will qualify for positions as mental health and substance abuse social workers. In 2016 the BLS reported these social workers took home $42,700 per year.

Substance Abuse and Behavior Disorder Counselors

The educational requirements for substance abuse and behavior disorder counselors can vary from a high school diploma to a graduate degree. With a bachelor's in social work it's possible to qualify for work in this field. These mental health professionals work with clients to help them avoid destructive behaviors and use a combination of group and individual counseling to help their clients develop effective coping strategies. Their median annual salary was $41,070 in 2016, according to the BLS.

School and Career Counselors

School and career counselors need a master's degree and a license. A bachelor's degree in social work can prepare individuals to pursue the graduate studies needed to enter this career field. The BLS reports these professionals earned a median annual income of $54,560 in 2016. They help students determine which courses to take to prepare for college or for a specific career and address personal issues with students, such as suspected abuse.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers enjoyed a median annual income of $64,680 in 2016, according to the BLS. This is one of the highest-paying career options for individuals with a bachelor's degree in social work, although graduate studies will increase career options in this field. Social and community service managers help identify community needs and create programs designed to meet those needs. This could include things such as providing services to veterans or individuals with special needs.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with criminals to help them reintegrate into society after incarceration or develop treatment strategies to help individuals prepare for careers. They must have a bachelor's degree and it is common for these professionals to study social work. The BLS reported that in 2016 parole officers and correctional treatment specialists took home a median annual salary of $50,160.

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