What Can You Do with a Degree in Social Work?

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If you are looking to make an impact, advocate for change, care for others, or even start a business, the diverse skill set you will develop in a social work degree program will help you turn your goals into reality.

Here are ten incredible careers you can pursue with a degree in social work from the University of Kentucky.

1. Therapist

Therapists and mental health counselors have a profound and purposeful impact on the mental health of their clients. By developing treatment plans, facilitating individual and group therapies, and overseeing the overall wellbeing of those in their care, social workers who are therapists and mental health counselors help clients overcome trauma, prepare for life changes, and more.

2. Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers provide direct services to patients and families in healthcare settings. By providing psychoeducation regarding a diagnosis or disorder, conducting assessments of needs, and identifying resources to meet those needs, Medical Social Workers help improve patient outcomes and address barriers to wellness.

3. Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors work in rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and detention centers among others to help individuals suffering from substance misuse seek recovery. They can also work directly with affected communities to establish early intervention, assistance, and education programs.

4. School Social Worker

School social workers help students, families, and teachers address and overcome emotional, behavioral, social, or academic development issues. They conduct assessments, social histories, mental health evaluations, and more to develop and implement treatment plans, advocate for students’ best interests, and collaborate with school administration to provide trainings and workshops for teachers, staff, and parents.

5. Military Behavioral Health Counselor

Military behavioral health counselors are specially trained mental and behavioral health counselors who work directly with veterans, active-duty service members, and military families. Military behavioral health counselors can help their patients with complex psychological issues such as substance misuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, transitioning home from deployment, and more.

6. Gerontological Social Worker

Gerontological social workers are multidisciplinary professionals who study physical, cognitive, social, emotional, psychological, and societal effects of aging. These social workers may conduct research, work directly with older individuals, or serve as advocates for aging and aged populations.

7. Community Advocate or Organizer

Community advocates work across organizations to develop and implement fair and equitable policies and generate awareness for positive change. This includes conducting needs assessments, generating communications, coordinating media engagement, and organizing key stakeholders to implement societal shifts on a range of issues, from criminal justice to fair housing to health access.

8. Public Policy Analyst

Public policy social work leaders help develop policies based on research, manage the delivery of services to communities in need, and oversee the execution of public programs. They may work in government institutions such the department of community services or veterans’ affairs or NGOs.

9. Business Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) managers help build fairer, more equitable workplaces. They set and enforce policies that foster a sense of belonging and facilitate employee engagement. By removing barriers to inclusion and fighting discrimination, D&I managers open opportunities for all individuals to reach their full potential and enhance their economic contributions to business.

10. Child Welfare Practitioner

Child welfare practitioners specialize in safeguarding children from harm by conducting safety and well-being investigations as well as facilitating the placement of children into adoptive and foster homes. While permanency is always the goal in child welfare advocacy, these individuals are tasked with assessing the best possible solution for the child and ensuring any transitions are as painless as possible.

Earn a Life-Changing Degree and Pursue a World-Changing Career

Studying social work will not only change your life, but the lives of countless others. Join us for an upcoming info session to discover how you can positively impact the lives of individuals, groups, and communities.

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For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.