Social Work

Main Content

What can I do with this major?
Area Employers Strategies

Public Welfare

  • Administration and Planning

  • Case Management

  • Program Evaluation

  • Policy Setting

  • Research

Public welfare agencies

Private social service agencies

Public welfare is designed to provide services and support for poor, disabled, ill, elderly, or juvenile clients.Volunteer at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, battered women homes, literacy programs, or other social service agencies to get experience.

Criminal Justice/ Corrections

  • Counseling/Therapy

  • Rehabilitation

  • Probation

  • Parole

  • Youth Services

  • Victim Assistance

Prisons and correctional facilities


Police departments

Probation offices

Victim services organizations

Social workers in corrections focus on rehabilitation of clients.Obtain experience by volunteering at a corrections facility or victims program such as a rape crisis center.

School Social Work

  • Clinical Social Work

  • Pupil Personnel Services

  • Student Advocacy

  • Instruction

Elementary and secondary schools

School districts

Head start centers

Early intervention programs

School systems may employ social workers to help students cope with and resolve emotional, developmental, or educational difficulties.Gain experience with children at daycare centers, camps, or Scouts.

Child Welfare

  • Case Management



Public and private child welfare agencies

Adoption agencies

Foster care organizations

Child daycare

Child welfare social workers strive to ensure the safety and well-being of children through treatment of the whole family.Volunteer at daycares, child shelters, camps, YMCA, Scouts, or other agencies that aid youth.


  • Advocacy/ Intervention

  • Counseling

  • Case Management

  • Programming

  • Public Policy


Credit unions

Savings and loan associations

Financial services institutions

Federal Reserve banks

Develop a solid background in business including marketing and accounting.

Get experience through part-time, summer, or internship positions in a bank.

Develop strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to work well with a diverse clientele


  • Counseling

  • Therapy

Community mental health centers

Psychiatric hospitals

Residential and day treatment hospitals

Employment assistance programs


Family service agencies

Private practice

Clinical social workers are found in a variety of settings that provide therapeutic counseling to clients. Master of Social Work (MSW) is required.


  • Management

  • Policy Development

  • Planning

Family service agencies

Child welfare departments

Social service agencies

State mental health departments

Employee assistance programs

Probation departments

Public welfare agencies

Public interest groups

Local, state, and federal government

Administrators are involved with planning, budgeting, public relations, marketing, supervising, operations management, fund raising, and other crucial responsibilities that keep an organization functioning.Obtain an MSW and gain management experience.

Research and Education

  • Research


Colleges and universities

Research institutes

Local, state and federal government

Advocacy organizations

Research provides data and statistics important in program implementation and policy development. Doctor of Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required.


  • Counseling

  • Education

  • Wellness Promotion

  • Employee Assistance

  • Organizational Development

  • Human Resources



Employee assistance programs

Labor unions

Occupational social workers help employees to be more productive and satisfied.

Developmental Disabilities

  • Case Management

  • Program Planning and Evaluation

  • Research

  • Policy Development

Community residential homes

State and local agencies

Medical facilities


Social workers in this area help people with disabilities to adjust and to lead productive lives. Volunteer at special needs camps, daycares, schools, or hospitals to gain experience.


  • Case Management

  • Counseling

  • Program Development

  • Administration

  • Research


Community health centers

Outpatient clinics

Public health programs

Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)

Nursing homes

Group homes


Veterans Administration hospitals

Social workers in health care facilitate medical and emotional treatment of patients. Choose volunteer settings such as hospitals, the American Red Cross, or AIDS agencies to get experience.

Community Organization

  • Program and Community Development

  • Advocacy

  • Politics

  • Education

  • Planning

Advocacy organizations

Development corporations

Community centers

Local, state, and federal government


Social workers in this area work with existing organizations to improve conditions for specific groups, enhance quality of living, and involve community members in the political process. Get involved with grassroots causes and community agencies.

Strategies for placement in Social Work

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) prepares individuals for entry-level direct practice.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) is necessary to provide therapy and for advancement to supervisory or administrative positions.
  • Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required for positions in teaching, research, and administration. Desirable for some clinical positions and private practice.
  • Complete a degree from a college or university program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Programs include practical field experience.
  • Most states require licensure, certification, or registration.
  • The field practicum is used to determine suitability for this profession and to provide exposure to various practice settings and clients.
  • Candidates should possess empathy for others, an appreciation for diversity, and an interest in social change.
  • Social workers serve a range of client systems (individuals, families, groups, communities) as they attempt to enhance social functioning.
  • Social work is unique given its dual focus on the person and the environment.
  • Note: Much of this information was adapted from Choices: Careers in Social Work by the National Association of Social Workers.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section
504/ADA /ADEA Employer.


Human Services Career Network
National Association of Social Workers 
Social Workers Online Career Center 
Council on Social Work Education 
The Chronicle of Philanthropy 
American Counseling Association 
National Board for Certified Counselors 
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy 
Social Work Guide