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Careers That Make a Difference: Social Work

For those who have a calling to serve others, there are countless career paths to pursue that deliver a positive impact to clients that are placed under their care and guidance. This list is not exhaustive by any means, but is a good place to start if you’re interested in a new career that allows you to help others.

Careers That Involve Helping People

There are many careers that allow you to make a difference, but determining which career path is the most meaningful and interesting to you is key. Though the industries and opportunities for a fulfilling career are vast, this study, in which PayScale asked over two million employees if they felt their work makes the world a better place, revealed:

The top five most meaningful careers are:

  • Community/Social Service – 84% report high job meaning
  • Healthcare Practitioners – 82% report high job meaning
  • Healthcare Support – 78% report high job meaning
  • Education – 73% report high job meaning
  • Protective Services – 72% report high job meaning

The Most Meaningful Career

At 84%, social/community service topped the Payscale survey as the most meaningful career field. This category refers to the range of services provided by government, private, and non-profit organizations that aim to build stronger communities and promote quality and opportunity for everyone. A key social service role, that of the social worker, spans many industries. It’s a career that makes a difference in the lives of others in many circumstances.

How Social Workers Help People

Social workers dedicate themselves to jobs that help people manage challenges in a variety of circumstances. From facilitating adoptions, to community development, to helping under-served populations get their basic needs met by connecting them to available resources, or to stabilize mental, behavioral, medical or emotional upset, a social worker’s goal is to optimize the lives of their clients.

As a social worker, you can find fulfilling work within a number of industries. Social workers are employed in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, police departments, public agencies, addiction centers, and more. Some of the titles for social worker roles are listed below — read to learn how jobs with these titles help people.

Community Social Worker

Communities that are neglected, rundown, and rife with crime are a detriment to the quality of life for the residents that live there. Community social workers focus their efforts on strengthening communities by empowering individuals, families, and groups to change their lives when they:

  • Gauge community health factors and develop actions plans for improvement
  • Interview residents, assess their needs, and set developmental priorities
  • Help the residents organize themselves to become politically active to affect change
  • Help individuals, families, and groups take advantage of resources and services such as food stamps, unemployment, and Medicare

Medical Social Worker

Navigating the world of health care can be intimidating, especially if you are sick and in need of ongoing care, have sudden, overwhelming medical bills, or are in need of at-home assistance when you are discharged from the hospital. Medical social workers provide peace of mind and comfort to patients and their families by ensuring their needs are met when they:

  • Perform psychosocial assessments to determine a patient’s emotional, environmental, and social challenges, and how they affect the diagnosis and treatment of an injury or disease
  • Coordinate the resources necessary for post-hospital treatment, including at-home care and necessary therapies

School Social Worker

At school, children learn, and test, social skills and behaviors that shape who they become and how they act as an adult. School social workers identify the gaps between how children are expected to behave and how they’re currently acting, working to achieve an acceptable level of performance. In this manner they help set a stronger foundation for students to learn and mature, providing opportunities to succeed in high school, college, and beyond. School social workers:

  • Counsel children in need, and conduct training for both faculty and students on healthy lifestyles
  • Watch for signs of neglect or abuse and intervene with school administrators and/or local authorities
  • Bridge cultural differences between school and home, particularly for students with language barriers

These are just a few of the roles in the field of social work that focus on helping others. You can download our free guide to learn more about these and other types of social workers.

Do you want to change the lives of people in need? Do you want to fight for justice and make the world a better place? Do you want to embark on a meaningful and rewarding career path? If so, consider enrolling in Our Lady of the Lake University’s online Master of Social Work (MSW).

Whether you have a bachelor’s in social work or graduated with a bachelor’s in another subject but have a calling to work in this field, OLLU’s MSW gives you the tools and knowledge to make a difference in the world as a professional social worker. Request more information or call 855-275-1082 to speak with an admissions advisor.