Your Future in Social Work

Which Social Work Career Is Right for You?

This graphic will help you consider your future in social work, from the type of social work you would like to study to the career you would like to pursue. We also look at some public figures who began their careers in social work and are now taking on large-scale issues.

Total Projected Growth in the Field of Social Work 2012-2022

  • More than 700,000: total projected social work employment
  • 19 percent growth in all social work jobs, faster than the average for all occupations

Non-Traditional (75 percent of U.S. Businesses Offer Employee Assistance Programs)

  • Settings: nonprofit organizations, corporations and consulting groups
  • Specialties: labor policies, employee wellness, employee assistance programs (EAPs), corporate social responsibility and community outreach

Community Management (21 percent job growth 2012-2022)

  • Settings: community organizations, political campaigns, research/nonprofit organizations and government agencies
  • Specialties: social action, policy and planning, administration and community outreach

Health (27 percent job growth 2012-2022)

  • Settings: public health programs, primary and long-term care facilities, hospitals and clinics, health-related government agencies, psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, nursing care facilities and schools
  • Specialties: chronic acute and terminal illness, Medicare and Medicaid services, geriatric and medical social work

Mental Health (23 percent job growth 2012-2022)

  • Settings: community mental health centers, behavioral health facilities, correctional institutions, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, military and veterans affairs clinics, rehabilitation programs and employee assistance programs
  • Specialties: eating disorders, substance abuse and addiction treatment, LGBT and gender issues, mental illness and dual diagnosis

Families, Children and Youth (15 percent job growth 2012-2022)

  • Settings: community-based organizations, private practices, courts, schools, religious organizations, hospitals and clinics
  • Specialties: foster care and adoption services, family and group therapy, homelessness, crisis intervention, child protective services and school social work

Social Workers Who Made It Big

  • Barbara Mikulski (MSW, former U.S. Senator for Maryland)
  • Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple)
  • Suze Orman (author and financial guru)
  • Brené Brown, PhD (LMSW, author, scholar and public speaker)
  • Jared Bernstein, PhD (MSW, economist and former White House staffer)

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Phone Number: 877-700-4679
Email Address:


© 2021 The University of Southern California for its USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. All rights reserved.