If you like to help different types of people, then a career in social work might just be for you. A degree in social work offers diverse job opportunities, including working in corrections, providing therapy, advocating for people in the community and helping people recover from mental illness diagnoses. Whether you have a bachelor's degree or master's degree in social work or have just taking a few social work classes, your employment options are many.
Direct Service Social Workers
Every social service agency has available positions that vary by the degree and experience required for them. In many cases, if you have a GED or equivalent experience, you may qualify for an entry-level position as a direct-service social worker, such as a case aide. In this position, you identify people who need help, assess their needs and help clients through the different stages in their lives. Other responsibilities include advocating for clients and helping them research and apply for community resources. If you enjoy helping people to excel, working in direct service will give you hands-on experience in this field.
Criminal Justice and Corrections
Working in corrections is not for the faint of heart. If you are fascinated by criminal justice and have the guts to work with society's offenders, then this type of social work job may excite you. You can help to rehabilitate offenders, help lawyers establish truth in criminal cases or assist victims of crime, according to Texas State University. With a master's in social work, you can work as a prison social worker. This position involves assessing inmates to find out if they need psychiatric services. You also would have to provide ongoing psychological services while they are behind bars. Also as a social worker, you would prepare them for their release date, including assisting them with finding housing, employment and financial assistance.
Clinical Social Workers
With a master's in social work, you can become a clinical social worker, according to the Bureau Labor of Statistics. After obtaining your license, this job includes diagnosing and treating mental, behavioral and emotional disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. You can also provide therapy to couples, families and individuals. As a clinical social worker, you can work in a hospital, specialized program or school. If you have an entrepreneurial streak, you can open a private practice and serve clients in your own home office.
If you are interested in psychology and sociology, pursuing a degree in social work could allow you to explore both subjects. With a bachelor's degree, you could work with the developmentally disabled as a case manager. Duties would include intervening on behalf of the client, providing case management and advocating for the disabled community. In addition, you could also be a case manager in a mental health facility or shelter, working with the homeless, those living with a mental illness or with a dual diagnosis, including mental illness and substance abuse. You also would help clients cope with their illness through both one-on-one and group sessions. You would also be responsible for providing information on 12-step programs and other community referrals.
Child Protective Services
If you like children but don't want to be a teacher or a nanny, then you should consider a job in child protective services. As a social worker, you would work directly with children and their biological and foster families. There are many different jobs within child protective services. Depending on the agency and your qualifications, you could obtain a position whose duties include answering direct calls regarding suspected child abuse or neglect, observing parents during visits with children, providing parenting education and investigating suspected abuse and counseling reported victims.
Cooper Veeris holds a bachelor's degree in English from Fordham University and lives in New York City. In addition to contributing regularly to various websites as a writer, she has experience teaching different populations and age groups including early childhood, junior high and high school students, and adults living with mental illnesses.