What Can You Do With a Bachelors in Social Work [2020 Guide]

A bachelor’s degree in social work can be a great stepping stone in the field of human services.

What Can You Do With a Bachelors in Social Work

It can increase your earning potential, open doors for career advancement and teach you the skills that you’ll need to help your community. Additionally, since it can be earned online, you can get qualified without even needing to attend classes on a college campus.

What Can You Do With A Bachelor’s in Social Work?

Community outreach workers repacking donations in a center

The most obvious path for a student of social work is to become a social worker. However, this is far from the only job option that you’ll have.

With a traditional or online bachelor’s degree in social work, you can pursue the following careers:

  • Caseworker
  • Marriage or family therapist
  • Addiction counselor
  • Probation officer
  • Health educator
  • School or career counselor
  • Program coordinator
  • Rehabilitation worker
  • Mental health assistant
  • Community outreach worker

Many of these jobs are classified as “human services jobs” or “community and social service jobs.”

There are also non-traditional career options for social work. If you’re interested in advocacy, for example, you can join the legal or political world. If you want to spread awareness about the cause, you can work in education, research, public health or journalism.

One thing to note about a bachelor’s degree in social work is that it’s often considered an entry-level qualification for the field. The most lucrative jobs can require a master’s degree or higher. Additionally, if you want to become a social worker, you’ll need to get licensed by your state before you can actually practice.

What is Social Work?

family therapists taking down notes during a counseling session with a family

Social work revolves around helping others. Whether it’s counseling families through hardship or working on policy changes for the entire community, it’s dedicated to advocacy and education for the greater good.

Common jobs in social work include case worker, school counselor, addiction therapist, correctional officer, health educator and community program coordinator.

Social work degrees can be earned at every level of education from associate to doctorate. However, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is often considered the baseline for employment. It’s the entry-level degree for people who want to get their foot in the door or eventually move on to a Master of Social Work (MSW).

A master’s degree isn’t necessary for all jobs. You’ll just see it mentioned a lot since many states require a MSW for their social worker licenses. But don’t be daunted by this requirement as there are a number of MSW accelerated programs or online MSW programs no GRE that allow you to earn your master’s much quicker and cheaper, or with much more flexibility.

Bachelor of Social Work Careers & Salaries

Bachelor of Social Work Careers & Salaries

According to PayScale, the average salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in social work is $49,884 per year.

Careers Average Annual Salary
Behavioral Health Specialist $57,000
Nonprofit Program Manager $49,000
Probation Officer $45,000
Health Educator $45,000
Social Worker $44,000
Mental Health Therapist $43,000
Crisis Counselor $43,000
Community Outreach Coordinator $43,000
Substance Abuse Counselor $38,000
Victim Advocate $35,000

Something to note about salaries is that they can vary drastically even within the same field. For example, the average salary for a social worker in healthcare is $56,000 per year while the average salary for a social worker specializing in child, family and school issues is $47,000 per year.

Choosing an Online Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree

Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree student studying on her laptop in the library

Choosing the right degree program can make a huge difference in your future. This is especially true in a field like social work. There are many different degrees, certificates and licenses that you can earn, and there are often specialties and sub-specialties for each one.

Which school is right for you? Which program will best prepare you for the field? Here are just a few things to consider when thinking about social work degrees.

  • Accreditation. The university should be regionally or nationally accredited. The program should be recognized by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  • Online availability. Can you take classes online? Are they self-paced or self-directed to allow maximum flexibility with your schedule? Will you need to complete any fieldwork in the real world?
  • Degree: The most common designation for the degree is a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), but you might also find schools that offer a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) or a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW).
  • Program length. A bachelor’s degree in social work usually requires four years of full-time study, but some schools offer accelerated programs for students who are eager to get into the field.
  • Additional degrees, specializations and certifications. There are a number of ways to supplement a degree in social work, so check your options with your intended school. They might offer special programs for students on particular paths or with particular career goals.

You’ll also want to consider the usual suspects like tuition, financial aid, school ranking, admissions criteria and faculty-to-student ratio.

Is a Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree Worth It?

social workers sharing their experiences during group meeting

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, community and social service occupations are expected to grow by 11 percent in the next decade. This is much faster than the national average, and its umbrella includes social workers, family counselors, correctional officers and more. Overall, more than 300,000 jobs will be added to the field.

Salaries are also very livable. The average salary for a bachelor’s degree holder in social work is $49,884 per year. The top earners in the industry make closer to $60,000 per year.

Is this enough for a bachelor’s degree in social work to be worth it? Ultimately, it’s a question that only you can answer, but the wages and the job opportunities are definitely there.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work?

Mental Health therapist talking to a child who is a victim of abuse

A bachelor’s degree in social work can open many doors in the human services industry. If you’re interested in direct work with vulnerable individuals, you might consider a career as a counselor, therapist, addiction specialist or case manager.

With additional training, you could become a legal advocate in the courtroom or correctional system, or you could specialize in something like health education or community development.

If you prefer to stay behind the scenes, you might prefer a more administrative job. You can reform the system from within as a policy maker, or you can work for a nonprofit or social services agency as a program manager, activity director or outreach coordinator.

Some careers in social work will require more than a bachelor’s degree. Make sure to do your research into industry standards and expectations before you enroll in a degree program.

Getting Your Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree Online

Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree student studying online at a cafe

If you have a passion for things like advocacy, social justice and community outreach, social work can be a great way to give back to the world. Not only will you feed your soul, but you’ll also join a flexible, fast-growing field with many career opportunities.

A bachelor’s degree in social work can qualify you for a variety of jobs. Depending on your interests, it can also be used as a foundation for further education or higher career advancement.

Consider a BSW if you’re ready to take your first and most important steps into the field of social work.

Tony Stewart
WRITTEN BY
Tony Stewart