Online Master of Social Work Career Outlook

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Social work tends to be one of the more stable and recession-proof career fields in America, as any decline in the national economy typically creates an increased demand for social services, support and intervention. At the same time, current career prospects for those with an advanced social work degree are especially strong because of several emerging trends. These trends are addressed in the unique makeup of the Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU).

The most significant force impacting the employment of social workers is the rapidly growing senior-citizen population in America and the demand for social services within that demographic group. Service to the elderly and retired community is a major contributing factor to government predictions of 27 percent job growth among healthcare social workers between 2012 and 2022. That exceptional rate of employment growth is compared to a still-robust 19 percent growth rate predicted for social work jobs in general during the same time period. OLLU’s focus on social work across the entire life span will ensure Master of Social Work graduates will be well prepared to address the needs of all populations, including elderly adults.

This chart provides a complete breakdown of social work job growth estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Social Work Job Growth by Service Area

Percentage of projected employment growth between 2012-20221

Job Category% Growth
Social Workers (Overall)19%
Child, Family, and School Social Workers15%
Healthcare Social Workers27%
Mental Health/Substance Abuse Social Workers23%
All Other Social Workers9%

Social Workers Needed for Fastest Growing Demographic

Career prospects for social workers are also on the rise because of the growing Hispanic population throughout America. Latinos currently represent the fastest-growing demographic community in the nation, and the demand for bilingual social service workers within the Spanish-speaking population is rising accordingly.

Our Lady of the Lake University offers one of only three social work master’s degree programs in the country with a specific emphasis on social service to Hispanic children and families. Once concentrated in the South and Southwest, Hispanic communities are now a vibrant part of the demographic profile in nearly every state in the U.S., and many social work agencies across America now expect expertise in service to Hispanics when evaluating potential employees or choosing candidates for leadership positions.

Career Paths for Social Workers

Careers in social work offer some of the most diverse employment opportunities of all professions. Social workers can be found not only in schools but also in private clinics, healthcare settings like hospitals, welfare agencies, mental health facilities, retirement homes, and elsewhere. Social workers can work with individuals or communities, and their clientele can range from children to families to the young to the elderly. Clients vary in terms of socioeconomic, educational, cultural, and professional background.

Professionals whose roles are classified under the umbrella of social work are:

  • Counselor
  • Case Manager
  • Community Coordinator
  • Family Therapist
  • Human Service Worker
  • Life Skills Counselor
  • Job Coach
  • Outpatient Health Specialist
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Social Worker
  • Public Health Manager

There are hundreds of titles to which a person employed in the field of social work might adopt. Typically, most social workers find employment in larger urban areas, as major cities tend to have higher populations and therefore more individuals in need of social services. Students pursuing a degree in social work will generally find it easier to procure and to sustain employment in larger cities where their profession is in higher demand.

Not only are there more jobs available in urban settings, the variety of jobs are greater as well. For example, social workers wishing to get hired by schools where social worker salaries tend to be above average and steadier will have a greater likelihood of being hired in a larger city. Jobs with city government or with private practices also tend to be more readily available. Students will have more options in terms of the population with whom they work such as underprivileged children, underserved minorities, or families that are struggling.

Though the average social worker salary varies depending on the specific industry and the location of the job, salaries on the higher end verge on $61,000 per year.2 the average compensation for a social worker ranges between just over $33,000 and $45,500. Professionals with a master’s in social work are qualified for the highest paying social work jobs and can anticipate earning on the upper end of the social worker pay scale.

To learn more about the Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University and what it can do for your career, call 855-275-1082 to speak with an admissions advisor, or you can request more information.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook,

2Social Work Salaries on, accessed 6/8/15,