A Few Career Options Made Possible with a Masters in Social Work

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  • The majority of professionals entering the field of social work do so with the purest of intentions. Unfortunately, all of the hard work and dedication required to succeed isn’t rewarded with a stellar salary, especially for individuals that only possess a bachelor’s degree. As you progress in your career, you’ll quickly learn that earning your Masters in Social Work will open up several, unexpected doors. Here are a few of the career opportunities made available with a MSW and why earning your masters in social work online is a very wise choice.

    Prison Social Worker

    As a prison social worker, your job will encompass working with inmates in several situations. One day you may be assessing an incoming inmate’s mental status to determine if he or she requires services while incarcerated. The next day, you could have the gratifying job of helping a soon-to-be released individual find housing, services and a job. Whatever the case, employment as a prison social worker isn’t for the weak at heart and the stress associated with working under these conditions isn’t necessarily for everyone.


    As a practicing professional, universities consider your real world experience invaluable. This coupled with your Masters in Social Work allows you to seek employment as an adjunct or full-time professor. The positions vary depending on the university and sometimes you must continue on and earn a doctoral degree to seek employment as a full-time professor. You may find that teaching a few classes sparks an interest that can lead to an exciting new career.

    Probation or Parole Officer

    The terms “probation” and “parole” officer are often mistakenly interchanged. As a parole officer, your job is to work with convicted criminals that spent time in prison or jail. On the other hand, a probation officer deals with individuals that were convicted but never spent time behind bars. Either way, your duties will center on ensuring the convicted individual adheres to the rules and judgments set forth by a judge or court official. Once again, this is a high stress position, but earning your MSW allows you to command a higher salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average parole or probation officer earned around $50,000 per year in 2009.


    As a researcher, you’re charged with studying various trends and determine their impact on society. This work is integral when it comes to forming policies and developing a variety of need-based services. The majority of researcher jobs fall under the scope of psychology and economics, although there are prospects in a variety of industries. This being stated, it’s important to do your research to determine which industry is seeking employees and the potential for growth and advancement.

    Hospice Worker

    Social workers employed in the field of hospice provide a variety of services to terminally ill patients and their families. Depending on the facility, you will often be expected to admit the patient, determine his or her unique needs and offer support as the individual’s needs evolve and change. After the patient passes away, hospice social workers provide assistance and support to the grieving family. As America’s population continues to age, the need for social workers in the hospice field continues to grow, creating several opportunities for talented and highly educated individuals.

    Earning Your MSW Online

    The idea of earning your MSW sounds intriguing, but you aren’t sure how to fit classroom discussions, commuting and studying into your already packed schedule. If you simply cannot attend classes through a traditional, campus-based university, consider earning your masters online. Many busy, gainfully employed social workers are able to continue working full-time while earning an advanced degree. Not only does online education provide you with flexibility and options, it can also open the door to several MSW employment opportunities.

    As the need for talented, educated social workers continues to grow, more job opportunities are becoming available for individuals with an advanced degree. Before beginning this new and exciting scholastic journey, consider your future career plans and design your course schedule according to this ultimate goal. You’ll quickly discover that the specialization provided by an MSW will make you a more well-informed, effective professional.

    About the Author:  Jean Weiss is a dedicated social worker, guest blogger and currently seeking her masters of social work online. After graduation, Jean intends to find work as a hospice social worker or in similar MSW employment opportunities

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