Master’s in Social Work: 4 Unique Career Paths

From the Hospital to the Classroom, MSW Graduates Have Plenty of Options

January 04, 2023
female social worker in doorway holding a clipboard, talking to a couple.

Social workers are dedicated to supporting individuals, families, and communities through hardships and challenges. They are compassionate advocates, working to improve quality of life and make a difference for the populations they serve. And there are numerous ways to do that.

Social workers can perform a number of tasks and roles and serve in a wide array of specializations. With a master’s degree in social work, there are many diverse career paths you can explore, some of which may surprise you.

In the office

At companies both big and small, employees need to feel supported in order to meet goals and achieve results. In order to be successful, white-collar workplaces need human resource professionals who are dedicated to the well-being of their fellow employees. With a background in social work, you’ll have a unique set of qualifications to work in corporate roles.

Many people who work in human resources come from a social work background. HR generalists, conflict mediators, equity and inclusion officers — there are so many roles that are well-suited to the skillset developed in social work school.

Today’s corporate workers face many challenges. Navigating remote offices, understanding benefit options, dealing with interpersonal issues, working toward promotions or pay raises — employees need guidance from dedicated human resource professionals to make the most of their career. In the process of helping fellow employees, you just might find yourself in a meaningful career of your own.

At the hospital

Our bodies and minds are connected. As people navigate complex medical diagnoses and crises, they need emotional support. In a hospital, you can work directly with patients to advocate for their needs and wishes. As a case worker, you can engage in rewarding, hands-on work that will directly benefit patients’ families and lives.

You can perform more technical duties in a hospital or clinic environment, too — helping to process Medicaid and Medicare claims, for example, or heading up research and studies that can help healthcare systems learn and improve.

In healthcare environments, you can also specialize in working with populations you are particularly passionate about serving: Elderly people, young children, mothers, people with addiction, and others.

In schools and educational systems

In order to learn, kids need so much more than notebooks and calculators. They need to be able to talk about their feelings, needs, and struggles. They need counseling to help them understand what educational specializations might be best for them. And they need an advocate in the classroom, helping teachers and other educators understand how to best support each individual student.

Working in a school, you can directly impact the well-being and educational performance of young people. You can equip educators and other school staff with the tools necessary to effectively nurture their students and keep lines of communication open and healthy. You can also help parents develop individual education plans when needed, advocating for the right support for an individual student’s needs or disabilities.

On your own schedule

Got an entrepreneurial spirit? Use your MSW to start your own business.

As a therapist in private practice, you can specialize in serving patients with behavioral health conditions that you’re most passionate about: Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. You can work directly with patients to improve their lives and create an atmosphere of healing right from your own home or office.

You can also work as a consultant, serving as a qualified subject matter expert to a wide range of clients, from private businesses to government agencies, media organizations to nonprofit groups. As an independent social worker, the only limits on your aspirations are your imagination.

Learn more about earning your Master’s in Social Work

Intrigued by these ideas? Don’t wait to start your future. Learn more about high-quality, affordable MSW programs that can put you on the right track.