Career Path Options for Child, Family, and School Social Workers

Every family will be supportive and stable in an ideal world. The children will also be happy at school as well as at home. Aged population will enjoy their retirement period. However in reality, many families and children face a lot of problems. For instance teenagers may become parents at an early stage.

Single parents may find it difficult to balance work front while raising kids on their own. Elderly people may lose their partners or suffer from memory problems. This is where the child, family, and school social workers have a big role to play. The child, family and school social workers mainly help the families and kids lead happy lives by getting back on track. They help families and children to cope with psychological and social issues that may crop up at school, home, at work or in the larger community.

Training, qualification and advancement

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When it comes to training, qualification and advancement, child, family and school social workers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW). For jobs in the entry level, those who have majored in sociology, psychology and related fields can be considered. On the other hand to fill in vacancies in the clinical segment, a master’s degree in social work is mandatory. Those having a bachelor’s degree can take up direct service jobs such as residential counselor, group home worker, mental health assistant and caseworker. Programs include social research methods, social work values, promotion of social and economic justice, field education, social work values and ethics, social welfare policy and services and dealing with risk population.

For clinical jobs and positions in health settings, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) is compulsory. A master’s degree in administration or social service policy may also be required to get jobs in the private and public agencies. An advanced degree is essential to hold jobs in the administrative, supervisory and staff training positions. Candidates willing to teach or take up research positions must have a doctorate in social work (Ph. D or DSW). With a master’s degree, candidates can work efficiently in their chosen field.

They can develop the skills essential for managing large caseloads, perform clinical assessments and take on supervisory roles. They can find ways by which social services can be used to meet the needs of clients. Master’s programs generally are of 2 years duration with at least 900 hours of internship or supervised field instruction. Those pursuing part time programs can expect to complete the same in 4 years. Although a bachelor’s degree in social work is not needed to get into a master’s degree program, those who have majored in fields such as biology, psychology, economics, sociology, social work and political science would be given preference.

Knowledge of second language is preferable too. Advanced standing is offered by a majority of master’s programs to those who have completed their bachelor’s degree from a reputed social work college. With work experience and an advanced degree, child, family and school social workers can get promoted to senior positions such as assistant director, supervisor, program manager or executive director positions. Those who are working in this field can also find jobs in the field of consulting, teaching, research and formulating government policies. Child, family and school social workers can also take up private practice.

For this, a master’s degree ad some supervised work experience is essential. Employment in this field is expected to soar and the need for such workers will be felt especially in the rural areas. Over 50% of child, family and school social workers find jobs in the health care and social assistance area while just over 30% work for government. Candidates willing to pursue their career as a social worker must be sensitive to other people’s problems, must be objective and emotionally mature. They must be able to work independently, maintain cordial relationships with clients and colleagues and handle responsibility. By working as a social work aide or a volunteer for some time, candidates can assess their exact interest in this field.

Nature of work

A strong desire to help others is the foremost quality required to work as a good child, family and school social workers. Such workers help people to solve everyday issues and problems arising within the family or outside. They may also help people facing problems related to substance abuse, unemployment, disability, a fatal disease or others. Also, child, family and school social workers can work as advocates or researchers. They can also work in the capacity of licensed clinical social workers by getting licenses from the state.

Child, family and school social workers provide social services and assistance in order to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and families. After assessing the needs of customers, the workers provide assistance so that their circumstances can be improved. They also help in coordinating the services that are available for families and children.

Finding foster homes for abused or neglected children, making arrangements for adoptions and helping single parents finding good day care for their infants also come under the role of such workers. While working in schools, the child, family and school social workers act as mediators between the school and its families. They help students to reach their top potential both personally and academically by working with school officials, teachers, guardians and parents.

They work with children who suffer from disabilities and also constantly remain in touch with their families. Their help may also be sought to deal with problems such as drug and alcohol addiction, teenage pregnancy, misbehavior and difficult students. These workers also conduct workshops on important topics such as conflict resolution within the classroom for the benefit of students and teachers. Child, family and social school workers work for family and individual service agencies, schools and government and are known as child protective services social workers, child welfare workers and family services social workers also.

Although most of the child, family and school social workers work in a school or an office, some of them are required to attend meetings and travel locally to meet clients. Though their work can be challenging it can be extremely satisfying also. Under staffing during times of big caseloads can cause pressure. While most of these workers work a standard 40-hour workweek, some of them also work during the nights and week-ends. Part time jobs are also available to this type of workers. Workers employed in these occupations usually need several years of on the job training, work-related experience and/or vocational training. Are you suitable? If you are willing to counsel people with various problems and backgrounds, refer them to programs and services, complete paperwork and maintain records, take care of yourself without burnout and work with other professionals, then this job would be perfect for you.

It will also help if you have a caring attitude and can easily listen to others without judgment as they confide their problems to you. You must be able to offer the best services to clients by standing by them always. Social workers have to care about lots of people and handle their stress. Hence they have to maintain healthy lifestyles. You can start working towards your ambition by starting early. For instance you can sign up to be a peer counselor even when you are in school. If there are social workers in your school already, then you can talk to them about their profession and nature of work.

You can also offer to volunteer your services by working as an aide at a home for senior citizens. You can take up psychology as a minor as this can help to understand about emotions and human development. It pays to read about famous social workers such as Frances Perkins, Jane Adams and others after taking up research. Employment and Job Outlook for Child, Family, and School Social Workers The employment opportunities for child, family and school social workers are increasing day by day. There is an acute demand for those who are qualified in this field. The number of people who are already in this profession is 277,670. According to changing Employment figures (2008-2018), employment in this field is expected to grow at an average of 7 – 13%.

Hence there are favorable job opportunities for those seeking employment in this segment. Job openings as compared to job seekers are found to be in rough balance. Out of a total of 642,000 social workers, about 292,600 are child, family and school social workers. A majority of these workers are found employed in rural areas. In the next decade alone, jobs for these workers are expected to increase by 12 percent which is quite high when compared to other occupations. Government budget allocation to a large extent will determine the growth of such workers because a vast majority of them are working for government agencies.

The availability of jobs in schools and other areas for these workers will depend mostly on government funding. However the need for such workers is bound to increase because of the increase in student enrollments and the growing need to integrate handicapped children into general classrooms. As far as job opportunities for child, family and school social workers are concerned, there can be a tough competition in big cities because of the availability of social worker training programs. On the other hand, it can be difficult to find well trained staff in rural areas. Taking into consideration the specialty, jobs will be available in plenty for those who have a background in substance abuse treatment and gerontology.

Salary and Earnings for Child, Family, and School Social Workers

When it comes to median annual wages for child, family and school social workers, it was $39,960. The lowest ten percent earned under $26,050, the highest 10 percent earned above $67,360 and the middle 50 percent earned between $31,950 and $52,410. The median annual wages of leading industries employing child, family and school social workers are as follows: State Government: 39,600 Individual and family services: 34,450 Other residential care facilities: $32,270 Elementary and secondary schools: 53,860 Local government: 46,650 Annual Salary for Child, Family, and School Social Workers On average, Child, Family, and School Social Workers earn $39,960 per year. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook Related Occupations Through referral to other services and direct counseling, social workers help people to deal with a range of personal problems.

Related occupations

In this field include probation officers, clergy, counselors, correctional treatment specialists, social and human services assistants and psychologists. Programs The related programs in this field include General social work, general Psychology, Juvenile corrections, other social work, social psychology, sociology, Youth services/Administration and others. Similar Careers Careers similar to those of child, family and school social workers include health educators, marriage and family therapists, educational, vocational and school counsellors, mental health counsellors, rehabilitation counsellors, behavioural disorder and substance abuse counsellors etc.

Top 10 Most Popular Social Work Schools The best or popular social work schools include Springfield College (Springfield, Massachusetts), New York University (New York, New York), Columbia University in the City of New York (New York), Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Fordham University (Bronx, New York), University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California), Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana), SUNY Empire State College (Saratoga Springs, New York), Metropolitan College of New York (New York), Indiana University –Purdue University (Indianapolis, Indiana).

Additional Resources

For information about voluntary credentials for social workers and career opportunities in social work, contact:

For list of accredited social work programs, contact:

  • Council on Social Work Education, 1725 Duke St., Suite 500, Alexandria, VA 22314-3457. Internet: http://www.cswe.org Information on testing procedures and licensing requirements for each State may be obtained from State licensing authorities, or from:
  • Association of Social Work Boards, 400 South Ridge Pkwy., Suite B, Culpeper, VA 22701. Internet: http://www.aswb.org