7 Jobs You Can Get with an MSW Degree

Embarking on acquiring a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) opens doors to many fulfilling career opportunities. Whether you're a prospective social work student or a recent graduate, the question often arises: What can I do with my master’s degree in social work? This article delves into some of the most sought-after and rewarding employment avenues for those who have earned their MSW degrees.

1. Mental Health or Clinical Social Worker

For many MSW graduates, the path of clinical social work beckons. Clinical Social Workers, also known as Mental Health Social Workers, engage in direct clinical practice, offering psychotherapy and counseling services to address mental health disorders. Their responsibilities extend to aiding clients in coping with challenges such as grief, trauma, or relationship issues. In addition to assessing mental health concerns and diagnosing disorders, they play a pivotal role in developing effective treatment plans.

These professionals often collaborate with substance abuse clients, necessitating strong communication skills. Licensure or certification as an LCSW is typically required for social work therapists and clinicians, and their employment settings vary, including community mental health centers, hospitals, schools, and private practice.

2. Hospital Social Workers and Hospice Social Workers

Hospice Social Workers provide crucial support to individuals with chronic or terminal illnesses and their families. Working within interdisciplinary teams, these professionals ensure patients receive proper care, assist in decision-making, and facilitate communication with medical providers. Hospital, health care, and medical social workers advocate for patient rights and offer comfort during challenging times. The demand for healthcare social workers is projected to grow by 11% over the next decade, creating abundant opportunities in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, and assisted living facilities.

3. Substance Abuse and Addictions Counselors

Substance Abuse Social Workers, or Addiction Counselors, play a vital role in helping individuals recover from substance use. These professionals provide individual and group psychotherapy in rehabilitation facilities, non-profit organizations, correctional facilities, and private practices. With a predicted 18% growth through 2028, this field addresses the increasing focus on rehabilitation within the child welfare and criminal justice systems.

4. Prison and Justice Social Worker

Social workers find roles within the justice system, working in jails, prisons, and probation. Criminal Justice Social Workers undertake intake assessments, coordinate therapeutic groups, and provide counseling services. The evolving landscape includes discussions about integrating social workers with police officers, emphasizing a shift toward social work-oriented approaches in communities.

5. Gerontological Social Worker

As the population ages, opportunities abound for gerontological social workers specializing in the needs of the elderly. These professionals operate in various settings, including senior living communities, nursing homes, hospitals, and private practice. Addressing specific mental and physical health needs, gerontological social workers mediate disputes, intervene in elder abuse cases, and connect elders with essential services to facilitate aging at home.

6. Social Justice Advocates

Social workers champion social justice as advocates, policy activists, and community organizers. Whether paid or voluntary, they operate in advocacy organizations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community groups. Focusing on vulnerable populations, social workers play a pivotal role in bridging micro and macro practice, advocating for diverse groups such as young people, differently-abled individuals, the elderly, low-income people of color, immigrants, or victims of human trafficking.

7. Child Welfare Social Worker

Often, government-run child welfare agencies are significant career destinations for MSW graduates. These social workers investigate child abuse and neglect, intervene when children's lives are in danger, and connect families with programs and services. Serving as advocates for children in adoptive homes and foster care, they play a crucial role in addressing behavioral issues and facilitating family therapy.

8. School Social Worker

School social work requires a deep passion for children, involving the development of social-emotional learning resources and curricula. These professionals address challenges such as bullying, harassment, economic struggles, and housing issues. Engaging with families and students, school social workers provide counseling, lead groups, and contribute to individualized education programs (IEPs). Some transition to become guidance counselors, focusing on academic guidance and college plans. This role often requires relevant licensure, emphasizing the importance of gaining experience during graduate studies.


Obtaining an MSW degree opens up a wide range of career opportunities in social work. Whether you are interested in clinical practice, healthcare, education, or research and policy, an MSW provides a versatile foundation. The degree equips professionals to positively impact individuals, families, and communities, addressing social issues and promoting well-being. With the diverse skills gained through MSW programs, graduates are well-prepared to navigate the complex challenges of the social work profession and contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society.


1. What is an MSW degree?

MSW stands for Master of Social Work. It is a graduate-level degree that prepares individuals for advanced practice in social work.

2. What are the career options with an MSW degree?

Various career paths are available, including clinical social work, medical social work, school social work, substance abuse counseling, and more.

3. Can I work in healthcare with an MSW degree?

Many MSW graduates pursue careers in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers, providing support to patients and their families.

4. Is it possible to work in schools with an MSW degree?

Absolutely. School social workers address students' social and emotional needs, collaborating with educators and parents to create a supportive learning environment.

5. What is clinical social work, and can I specialize in it with an MSW?

Clinical social work involves providing therapy and mental health services. Many MSW programs offer clinical specializations, allowing graduates to become licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).

6. Are there research and policy work opportunities with an MSW degree?

Yes, some MSW graduates engage in research and policy development, contributing to social work practices, interventions, and policies at various levels.

7. Can I work with diverse populations with an MSW degree?

Absolutely. Social workers with an MSW degree often work with diverse populations, addressing issues related to poverty, discrimination, mental health, and more.

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