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What can you do with a social work degree?

A social worker enjoys a free moment outside a courthouse

It’s a great time to become a social worker. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that the overall employment of social workers is projected to increase  13 percent between 2019 and 2029.

If you enjoy learning about mental health, and you are considering a career in child welfare and social services or other social work programs, you might consider enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) degree program. Some programs, such as those offered by the University of Phoenix, allow you to complete your coursework online along with required field experience in your state of residence.

Careers as a child protective services social worker

As a social worker, you may potentially end up working in one of the most important social work fields out there: child protective services. These social workers help keep track of at-risk kids and provide counseling to ensure children stay in school, have adequate nutrition, live in safe homes and are protected from danger in their everyday lives.

Social workers with a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) learn valuable skills for careers with organizations like child protective services or in the fields of child welfare, behavioral health and other social work programs.

Careers as a family protection specialist

According to My Majors, family protection specialists fulfill key roles in the mental health or social work field, such as assisting parents, executing successful adoptions and matching children without guardians to appropriate foster homes.

Sometimes they can play a pivotal role in connecting with young people during a crucial stage of their development. They might be asked to speak at school assemblies or one-on-one with students and teachers in an advisory capacity. They might help people address a range of important issues such as food insecurity, mental health concerns, teen pregnancies, juvenile delinquency, poor academic performance, higher education goals, behavioral issues or questions around entering the workforce.

Salaries can vary, but according to BLS, the national median salary for child, family and school social workers in 2020 was $48,430.

Careers as a foster care social worker

Foster care social workers assist children in their most urgent time of need, and that can potentially include situations involving abuse or the tragic loss of family members. These specialized social workers conduct background checks on potential foster parents and try to place kids in loving, supportive homes as soon as possible, sometimes within the hour.

This fast-paced, rewarding and competitive mental health field is a growing one, but many sources (including BLS) note that employers often require a BSW of any prospective social worker. Once hired and experienced, however, child welfare workers have a national median salary of $48,430, according to the most recent survey by BLS.

Careers as a caseworker

Having a BSW (or BSSW) can help you prepare for opportunities as a case manager, depending on which agency is hiring. (Case managers often work in child welfare, behavioral or mental health or with public social services agencies.) Caseworkers can oversee a department of social workers, providing guidance and managing their teams.

Case managers may make sure mental health and social workers are managing caseloads effectively, following ethical guidelines, facilitating appointments and preventing waiting areas from becoming overcrowded. They are as essential to the mental health and social services fields as anyone.

According to BLS, caseworkers typically earn anywhere from $46,240 per year to $50,470, depending on the role, the person’s experience, and the location.

What you’ll learn in our Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree program

With the social work degree program at the University of Phoenix courses are taught online, and two 15-week field courses are in-person. The University’s BSSW program educationally prepares graduates for licensure as a bachelor’s level social worker in jurisdictions where it is offered.

Additionally, University of Phoenix offers instruction in the following areas of social work:

  • Strengthen your community by addressing social problems and advocating for social justice
  • Understand and influence the policies and systems that affect people
  • Gain a well-rounded, versatile social work foundation that can translate to a variety of practice settings
  • Develop skills in working with individuals, families, organizations and communities
  • Understand social welfare policy and applicable laws

Get started with your social work degree

As BLS notes, "A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level administrative positions." After earning a BSSW, you will be qualified for entry-level administrative positions, according to BLS.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I get my social work degree online?

A: Yes, our social work degree program is offered online with two 15-week in-person field courses also required. Visit our site to learn more about enrolling in one of our social work degree courses.

Q: Why should I get my degree from University of Phoenix?

A: There are several reasons to get your degree from our online university, starting with our accreditation and experienced teachers. (The University of Phoenix has been continually accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1978, In addition, we offer the following services:

  • Career Services For Life™. As a University of Phoenix graduate, you will have access to Career Services for Life  — even it’s two years, five years or a decade after completing your degree. These offerings are available to any graduate and to any active, degree-seeking student. Contact us for details.
  • Exceptional flexibility. Our Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree program can be completed one course at a time. And with courses available year-round, with up to five start dates annually, we offer extraordinary flexibility. Visit our website to learn more.
  • Earn your degree without starting from scratch. The University of Phoenix can save you money through scholarships and college transfer credits. For more information, click here.

Q: How much do social work majors make in the real world?

A: Salary ranges are dependent on location and experience. Social workers in major metropolitan areas or cities with high costs of living may earn a higher salary than colleagues working in smaller, more affordable towns.

If you’re considering getting a social work degree, now may be a good time to decide. With strong growth predicted for the field and rewarding experiences available in a variety of roles, the path is up to you. But the first step may just be exploring our online degree program.

Portrait of Michael Feder


Brian Fairbanks is a freelance writer with a background in SEO content creation and blog article development


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