What Are the Different Types of Career Opportunities for Social Workers?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2018
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Career opportunities for social workers spread into many different areas of health and mental assistance. Depending on training and interests, social workers can choose to advance their career by working with family courts, medical facilities, substance abuse or counseling practices, or public health outreach. Career opportunities for social workers tend to increase based on level of education, professional reputation, and work experience.

Some social workers choose to work with the family court system, providing valuable assistance and assessment for families in crisis. In this line of work, a social worker may be given cases to investigate and assess, in order to help the courts determine custody rights, the potential for wardship, and claims of abuse. Career opportunities for social workers in the family courts may include chances to become managers or supervisors, as well as the opportunity to segue into public policy pursuits.

In the medical field, social workers often provide counseling and social services to patients and families who are dealing with debilitating or terminal medical conditions. One option that can lead to increased career opportunities for social workers in the medical field is obtaining a counseling license, which may allow social workers to open private therapy practices. Licensed counselors can also work with certain medical facilities, such as a hospice program. While private practice may allow more freedom and flexibility, working as an employee of a medical facility can provide steadier work.


Some social workers choose to enter the field of substance abuse counseling. This specialized area deals with patients and families suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, and can provide many different career opportunities for social workers. Licensed professionals can open a private substance abuse counseling practice, work with a rehabilitation center, or get involved in public policy initiatives to raise awareness and improve government substance abuse programs. Some substance abuse counselors may even specialize in a particular type of client, such as prison inmates, teenagers, or even celebrity rehabilitation.

Public healthcare can be a source of many different careers opportunities for social workers. Once a social worker has established him or herself as an expert in the professional world, the chance may arise to work with local, state, national, or even international health groups on policy and outreach. Jobs in the public healthcare field can include lobbying for improved social services or better funding, assisting in the creation of healthcare initiatives to fight specific medical or mental issues, or creating better international health and social care standards. Social workers that transition to governmental work may have the opportunity to rise high in the political spectrum, even achieving positions as presidential advisers on healthcare.



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