Profession of Social Work


Social Work is a profession concerned with relationships between people and their environments. It is a helping profession which provides vision and direction for addressing social problems, resolving interpersonal conflicts, confronting social issues and meeting human needs. It is committed to the enhancement of human well-being and to the alleviation of poverty and oppression among populations-at-risk. The social work profession receives its sanction from public and private auspices and is the primary profession in the provision of social services. Within its general scope of concern, professional social work is practiced in a wide variety of settings.

Baccalaureate social work is the only undergraduate major that educates students to be professional social workers. BSW graduates are prepared for immediate entry into direct human service professional positions. They possess the intellectual, practical and professional skills needed to promote beneficial change in the lives of their clients. Social work employers recognize the specialized education and skills that empower BSWs to make an immediate impact on their organizations and in the lives of their consumers.

BSW graduates are employed in many different public and private work settings, including:

  • Nursing Homes
  • Child Welfare Agencies
  • Hospices
  • Aging services
  • Hospitals
  • Residential Treatment Programs
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Child & Adult Day Care Centers
  • Substance Abuse Programs
  • Domestic Violence Programs
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Public Health Agencies
  • Criminal Justice Agencies
  • Community Action Agencies
  • Schools (elementary & secondary)
  • Family Services Agencies
  • Income Maintenance Programs
  • Children & Youth Services
  • Legal Services Agencies
  • Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Services

Please refer to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook to find out more about the profession of social work, the range of jobs available, and salary levels. This publication is online at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm

Click to view the CHOICES: Careers in Social Work booklet.