Betty LaMarr Medical Talk Show Intro
Social Worker Profession
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19% between 2012 and 2022. More than 650,000 people currently hold social work degrees.
Who is a social worker?
- Social workers are highly trained and experienced professionals. Only those who have earned social work degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels—and completed a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork—are professional social workers.
- Based on findings from the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Survey, there were 35,107 full-time juniors and seniors enrolled as of fall 2011; there were 5,262 part-time juniors and seniors enrolled as of fall 2011 in the 195 baccalaureate programs that reported offering a part-time program. The total enrollment of full-time master’s students was 30,755; the total enrollment of part-time master’s students was 18,481. The total enrollment of full-time doctoral students was 1,815; the total enrollment of part-time doctoral students was 760.
- During the 2010–2011 academic year, 14,662 baccalaureate degrees were awarded by social work programs; 20,573 master’s degrees were awarded; and 321 doctoral degrees were awarded. (CSWE)
- In 2011, 426 social work programs reported having 4,730 full-time faculty and 5,095 part-time faculty. (CSWE)
What do social workers do?
- Social workers help individuals, families, and groups restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, and work to create societal conditions that support communities in need.
- The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors.
- Social workers help people of all backgrounds address their own needs through psychosocial services and advocacy.
- Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.
Who employs social workers?
- Professional social workers are found in every facet of community life—in schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, senior centers, elected office, private practices, prisons, military, corporations, and in numerous public and private agencies that serve individuals and families in need. Many also serve as social and community service directors.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), professional social workers are the nation’s largest group of mental health services providers. There are more clinically trained social workers—over 200,000—than psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined. Federal law and the National Institutes of Health recognize social work as one of five core mental health professions.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employs more than 10,000 professional social workers. It is one of the largest employers of MSWs in the United States.
- More than 40% of all disaster mental health volunteers trained by the American Red Cross are professional social workers.
- There are hundreds of social workers in national, state and local elected office, including two U.S. Senators and seven U.S. Representatives. These include: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9), Rep. Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-4), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-3) and Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53).
- Today, almost 50 special interest organizations contribute to the vitality and influence of the social work profession. There are social work groups for educators and researchers, as well as organizations for practitioners in health care leadership, nephrology, oncology, child welfare, schools, prisons, courts, and many other settings.
- Get additional facts from the NASW Center for Workforce Studies: http://workforce.socialworkers.org
- Learn how social workers help individuals, groups and families across the lifespan: www.HelpStartsHere.org
- Explore how the media covers social workers and social work issues: www.SocialWorkersSpeak.org
- Purchase publications about social work practice and related public policy: www.NASWPress.org
- Find a School of Social Work in your state: www.BeASocialWorker.org
General Facts about Social Work
|Click here to download a pdf version of the 2007 Social Work Month Toolkit.|
A 2006 study of licensed social workers from the NASW Center for Workforce Studies revealed the following about the profession of social work:
- Social workers have advanced educational preparation and practice experience. A master’s in social work is the predominant social work degree for licensed social workers (79% of active practitioners).
- Social workers’ most frequent specialty practice areas are mental health (37%), child welfare/family (13%), health (13%) and aging (9%).
- Social workers spend the majority of their time providing direct client services (96%), followed by consultation (73%) and administration/management (69%).
- With 12% of respondents planning on leaving the workforce in the next two years and the increasing need for social work services, there will not be enough social workers to meet the needs of their clients.
Additional facts about social work:
- Social workers have the right education, experience, and dedication to help people help themselves whenever and wherever they need it. It takes a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral social work degree — with a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork — to become a social worker.
- Social workers help people in all stages of life, from children to the elderly, and in all situations from adoption to hospice care.
- You can find social workers in hospitals, police departments, mental health clinics, military facilities, and corporations.
- Professional social workers are the nation's largest providers of mental health services. Social workers provide more mental health services than psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses combined.
- More than 600,000 people in the United States hold social work degrees.
- The Veteran's Administration employs more than 4,400 social workers to assist veterans and their families with individual and family counseling, client education, end of life planning, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention, and other services.
- Forty percent of mental health professionals working with the Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources system are social workers.
- There are more than 170 social workers in national, state, and local elected office, including two U.S. Senators and four U.S. Representatives.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for social workers is expected to grow twice as fast as any other occupation, especially in gerontology, home healthcare, substance abuse, private social service agencies, and school social work.
For more information about Social Workers, please visit http://www.helpstartshere.org/About_Social_Workers.html
Social Work History
Social Work History
- Since the first social work class was offered in the summer of 1898 at Columbia University, social workers have led the way developing private and charitable organizations to serve people in need. Social workers continue to address the needs of society and bring our nation’s social problems to the public’s attention.
- Today, Americans enjoy many privileges because early social workers saw miseries and injustices and took action,
inspiring others along the way. Many of the benefits we take for granted came about because social workers—working with families and institutions—spoke out against abuse and neglect.
- The civil rights of all people regardless of gender, race, faith, or sexual orientation are protected.
- Workers enjoy unemployment insurance, disability pay, worker’s compensation and Social Security.
- People with mental illness and developmental disabilities are now afforded humane treatment.
- Medicaid and Medicare give poor, disabled and elderly people access to health care.
- Society seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Treatment for mental illness and substance abuse is gradually losing its stigma.
- The social work profession celebrated its Centennial in 1998. That year, several important artifacts from across the country were donated to the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate 100 years of professional social work in the United States.
- Social work pioneer Jane Addams was one of the first women to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded in 1931. Known best for establishing settlement houses in Chicago for immigrants in the early 1900s, Addams was a dedicated community organizer and peace activist.
- • Frances Perkins, a social worker, was the first woman to be appointed to the cabinet of a U.S. President. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Perkins drafted much of the New Deal legislation in the 1940s.
- Social worker and civil rights trailblazer Whitney M. Young, Jr. became the executive director of the National Urban League while serving as dean for the Atlanta School of Social Work. He also served as president of NASW in the late 1960s. A noted expert in American race relations, Time Magazine acknowledged Young as a key inspiration for President Johnson’s War on Poverty.
- Other famous social workers include Harry Hopkins (Works Progress
Administration), Dorothy Height (National Council of Negro Women), and Jeanette Rankin (the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress).
Video: Legacies of Social Change: 100 Years of Professional Social Work in the United States available from NASW Press at www.socialworkers.org.