Not everyone is inclined to work with bits and bytes and shiny hardware — and that’s a good thing because we’ll always need people who are more comfortable working with people than with robots.
When people talk about the kinds of careers in high demand today, they tend to emphasize the ones in tech and science. But if those fields aren’t where your talents and interests lie, there’s an important place for you, too. It’s the field of social work and it’s all about interacting with human beings rather than concepts and equipment.
In addition to its being a rewarding career, it may surprise you to know is that social work is one of the more stable and recession-proof jobs, with demand ever increasing as populations in every country of the world grow, change and age.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that job openings in the field of social work will be increasing at a much faster-than-average rate of 16 percent through the next eight years. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for jobs in the profession, but a master’s in social work opens even greater opportunities at the entry level as well as for advancement and leadership positions.
If you’re already employed in social work, an allied field or even something quite apart, don’t let it stop you. You can pursue an online MSW program to pave the way to your future without giving up your current job and income. Some of the specialties expected to have the most need in the coming years are:
In Health Care
The greatest number of opportunities for social workers, as well as among the highest salaries, are expected to be in hospitals, clinics and public health services. At a health care facility, you would be providing support and guiding patients and their families through what are typically highly stressful situations. You may serve as an advocate by helping them make difficult decisions, assist them in communicating with medical staff to coordinate various treatments and after-care and assist them with all the paperwork that often goes along with medical care.
It’s predicted that by 2030 there will be 70 million people age 65 and older. While more people than ever are living healthier and more productive lives into their senior years, the inevitable consequences of aging make gerontology a rapidly expanding field. Serving our older population as a social worker may include providing counseling in a private home, in a short-term rehabilitation facility or in a long-term residential or medical care setting.
As part of teams with other professionals, social workers help children and parents of children who are dealing with behavioral or emotional disorders, developmental issues, learning disabilities and other challenges. Working in both public and private schools and at all grade levels, social workers also serve as links between faculty, administration, parents and the children themselves.
In Child Welfare
Child welfare provides services to abused or neglected children and to children whose parents can’t afford or are otherwise unable to take proper care of them. The largest number of positions in this field are in child protective services, where social workers investigate and intervene in critical situations, and when necessary, place children in safe environments and follow through to assure their well-being in permanent placements.
In Substance Abuse
It’s a fact of life that more social workers are needed to serve children and adults suffering from substance abuse and addictions. Positions in this field are available in private and public rehab facilities, prisons, juvenile detention centers and non-profit organizations as well as in private practice.
In the Business World
Social workers are increasingly being hired to join the human resources departments in large corporations. In this setting, social workers create programs to manage workplace conflict and provide counseling and support to employees. They may also run employee volunteer programs and often coordinate with management in directing philanthropic activities to benefit the community.
There are many good resources for more information about the field and whether it could be the right choice for you, no matter where you live or where you want to work. To begin, check out the National Association of Social Workers.