7 Jobs You Can Get with an MSW Degree

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Wondering what you can do with a master's in social work? Learn more about an MSW degree and explore career possibilities and earnings potential.

[Featured image] A social worker wearing a stethoscope and holding a tablet speaks with a member of his community.

If you enjoy helping others, you can make a career of it with a Master of Social Work (MSW). An MSW degree allows you to help people of all ages and stages in life or members of your community in a specific demographic like children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Determine if a graduate degree in social work fits your lifestyle or career plan by learning what job opportunities and salaries it can offer.

What is an MSW degree?

Designed for people who want to work with vulnerable populations, the MSW degree is typically a two-year program for people with a bachelor's degree in something other than social work. However, if you have a BSW (Bachelor's in Social Work), you may be able to get your MSW in one year. Pursuing this degree involves in-class coursework and field learning, which gives students hands-on experience.  An MSW program will prepare you to become licensed in the state you choose to work. 

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Job opportunities for MSW degree holders

When you’ve completed your MSW degree, you’ll likely find many job openings in the private and public sectors. You’ll have the opportunity to work in various settings and with diverse populations. Some job titles available for licensed social workers include: 

1. Child welfare social worker 

As a child welfare social worker, you'll be an advocate for at-risk children. Because you may encounter child neglect, abuse, or malnutrition, this type of work can be stressful. However, the ability to help make home environments healthier or remove children from harmful situations can also make this job very rewarding. 

2. Clinical social worker 

Consider a clinical social worker position if your career goal is to help people with mental illness or behavioral disorders. In this job, you’ll have an opportunity to work in a variety of settings like government agencies, mental health clinics, or hospitals. 

3. Hospice and palliative care social worker 

As a hospice and palliative care social worker, you'll help terminally ill patients and their families with end-of-life planning and care. You’ll provide emotional support to patients and their families and help connect families with any support services they may need. 

4. Medical social worker 

Like social workers in hospice and palliative care, medical social workers support patients coping with serious illness and their families. As a medical social worker, you’ll often be the liaison between medical professionals and patients or family members, ensuring patients and families have access to the services they need.

5. Pediatric social worker 

As a pediatric social worker, you’ll help children and their families as they cope with difficult situations. These might include physical disability, mental or physical illness, psychological problems, or grief. You'll help kids and families get the services and support they need, including financial support if necessary.

6. Military social worker 

If you or a loved one is a current or former member of the armed services, you may be interested in becoming a military social worker. In this role, you’ll work with active-duty military members, veterans, and their families to provide services like job placement, psychological support, or help with reintegration into civilian life. The US Department of Veterans Affairs hires many military social workers.

7. School social worker 

School social workers help students, teachers, and parents or guardians address concerns like behavior issues, psychological problems, and truancy. As a school social worker, you may work in a specific school, or you could work for a school district composed of multiple schools. 

More potential job opportunities

If you get an MSW, you'll have even more employment options. You can work as a:

  • Criminal justice social worker, aiding people within the legal system

  • Psychiatric social worker, servicing people with mental illnesses

  • Gerontological social worker, helping the aging population in a hospital, long-term health care facility, or public agency

  • Macro social worker, seeking to bring positive change to whole communities of people through advocacy, policy, and development of community programs 

Ready to start an MSW degree?

Before pursuing a master’s degree in social work, you might want to explore the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MasterTrack® Certificate program offered by the University of Michigan. Should you decide to get your MSW degree at the University of Michigan, your MasterTrack® coursework will count toward your degree.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources 

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Social Workers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm." Accessed August 5, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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