Why Study Social Work?

Social Work at Luther College

A CSWE accredited program, celebrating more than a quarter century of undergraduate Social Work Education

What is Social Work?

Social work is a profession devoted to helping people function the best they can in their environment. This can mean providing direct services to people in their homes or places of work, helping people to help themselves. It also can mean working for change to improve social conditions.

Social workers help clients deal not only with how they feel about a situation but also with what they can do about it. For example, a man suffering stress stemming from single parenting may be referred by a social worker to a child care agency.

The social worker also might help him explore flextime with his employer and might work with a coalition of local employers to make flextime and child care more available. In addition, the bachelor’s level social worker might refer the client to a Master’s level social worker to receive therapy to help him handle the immediate stress.

Many social workers work for social change as well. The victim of an assault benefits not only from therapy but also from efforts to curb neighborhood crime. The client is under stress because illness has devastated the family finances benefits from efforts to reform the nation’s health care system.

Social Work is more than working with people on welfare. Social Work is directing a local social service agency, writing grants, forming and conducting support and educational groups, changing the way communities function, working directly with all ages of people from children and families to senior citizens.

Why choose Social Work as a major?

For sheer variety, few occupations can match social work, which offers the broadest range of opportunities and settings. Social workers are found in public agencies, private businesses, hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, private practices, police departments, courts, and countless other interesting workplaces.

Social workers serve individuals, families, and communities. They are managers, supervisors, and administrators. They serve at all levels of government. They are educators. They are therapists and researchers. More and more, they are also elected political leaders and legislators.

A Social Work major from an accredited undergraduate Social Work (BSW) program has many benefits. Only Social Work majors can become licensed social workers in most states. Most master of social work (MSW) programs will give advanced placement credit to students from a BSW program, which means either fewer courses needed to earn an MSW or more flexibility within the MSW program.

Can I get a job in Social Work?

According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) report, social work employment is expected to increase by 16 percent through 2018, a higher rate than the average for all occupations. Job prospects are expected to be favorable, especially for those social workers who specialize in the aging population or work in rural areas. The number of older people who are more likely to need social services is increasing rapidly. In addition, growing concern about crime, juvenile delinquency, and services for the mentally ill, the mentally disabled, AIDS patients, and individuals and families in crisis will spur demand for social workers.

As hospitals increasingly emphasize early discharge of patients in an effort to control costs, more social workers will be needed to ensure that the necessary medical and social services are in place when individuals leave the hospital. Social worker employment in home health care services is growing, not only because hospitals are releasing patients earlier, but because a large and growing number of people have impairments or disabilities that make it difficult to live at home without some form of assistance. There is a growing interest in persons with social work skills to work in ministry and persons with music skills to combine their music with social work skills to assist persons in many areas of need.

According to the National Association of Social Workers, "Those just starting out with a BSW can expect an annual salary ranging up to $33,000 depending on type of work, experience, and geographic factors. A social worker with an MSW degree can expect an annual income ranging between $60,000 and $70,000; a DSW can anticipate an annual income of more than $40,000. A few experienced private practitioners and senior administrators earn as much as $100,000.