A Picture of Social Work in America

The following facts provide a solid overview of the social work profession across the United States. You may be surprised at some of the information you read below:

How many social workers are in the U.S.?

  • More than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees. Not all of these individuals are licensed, nor do they all actively practice in the profession.
  • Social work is one of the fastest-growing careers in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that opportunities will continue to grow a healthy 25 percent through the end of the decade.
  • Most individuals who are enrolled in a college program are studying at advanced level. This includes those who are earning their degree in social work online.

Where are social workers employed?

  • Social workers are found throughout our communities, working in schools, hospitals, prisons, public agencies, senior living centers, and private practice.
  • Social workers represent America’s largest professional group of mental health providers, outnumbering psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one the nation’s largest employers of social workers, with over 10,000 professionals on staff.

What are the three top paying states for licensed social workers?

  • Connecticut offers the highest salaries of all 50 states, with average annual wages of $61,690. The state has high expectations of their social workers, requiring the minimum of a master’s degree to apply for a license.
  • New Jersey offers salaries averaging up to $59,000 a year, along with an affordable cost of living. Proximity to New York City is also a draw for New Jersey social workers who, like their counterparts in Connecticut, must possess an MSW to obtain licensure.
  • Rhode Island rounds out the top three highest paying states with annual salaries up to $56,950 for licensed social workers. Again, the minimum of an MSW degree is a must.

How do social workers contribute to society in other ways?

  • Social workers are important contributors to organizations like the American Red Cross and other volunteer groups that support people in communities that have suffered a natural disaster or man-made catastrophe.
  • There are hundreds of social workers serving in political office at the national, state and local levels, where they can be the voice of citizens in need of accessible mental health services and improved community resources.
  • Two members of Congress – New Hampshire Representative Carol Shea-Porter and Arizona Representative Kyrsten Sinema – are actively representing the social work profession on Capitol Hill. Both of these women are social workers who strongly advocate for policies that ensure food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare will remain available for persons in need.

Social work is a profession dedicated to enhancing the quality of life, the pursuit of social justice, and helping a wide range of individuals to reach their full potential. Offered by the School of Social Work at the University of New England, the Master of Social Work online option is open to students from a variety of educational backgrounds. The program envisions a world where social workers are at the forefront of advocating with individuals and communities for human dignity and social inclusion by mobilizing efforts to end inequalities, exploitation and violence.

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