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The Growing Shortage of Social Workers

America’s population is getting older. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says that by 2035, people age 65 and over will outnumber children under the age of 18. 

America is also facing an opioid epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) says roughly 21-29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up abusing them. 

Combined, these factors have exacerbated a serious problem: a shortage of social workers, particularly in child welfare and addiction treatment programs all over the country. 

The Growing Shortage of Social Workers: A Look at The Numbers 

In 2012, researchers found that 11 states were facing a shortage of social workers. By 2030, that number will increase to 30 states, with a national average shortfall of over 195,000 social workers. 

To put the shortage into perspective, consider this: a recent survey conducted by The Indiana University of Social Work asking students about their plans following graduation, found that 100 percent of undergraduate respondents had a job or were preparing to further their education. 

University dean at the Indiana University of Social Work, Michael Patchner, says those numbers are unheard of, noting that the school of social work was the only school on campus with a “100 percent placement rate...which has around 30,000 students.”   

West Virginia is another state that’s experiencing a growing shortage of social workers. In December 2018, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary, Bill Crouch, told state lawmakers that the department was still struggling to fill child protective services roles needed to assist children affected by the ongoing opioid epidemic 

A Shortage of Social Workers: Increased Job Opportunities 

These numbers are undoubtedly surprising, but they present plenty of opportunity, too. Between now and 2028, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 11 percent – much faster than the national average. However, the level of demand will vary by specialization. 

For example, BLS says that the employment of child, family, and social school workers is expected to increase by 7 percent between now and 2028, while the employment of health care social workers is expected to increase by 17 percent. What’s more, the employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to increase by 18 percent between now and 2028. 

Pursuing a Career in Social Work 

Believe it or not, you don’t have to have years of education or multiple degrees to pursue a career in social work. 

If you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or sociology it’s worth considering. The field is incredibly versatile and features a wide variety of specialties that pay an average salary of $49,470 per year. 

If you have a master’s degree there’s even more earning potential. A 2019 report conducted by the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work found that social work jobs such as child and family therapist or policy analyst can earn upwards of $58,000 per year. 

As a social worker, you’ll also need to consider licensing. To become a licensed clinical social worker, you must have a master’s degree and complete a minimum of 2 years supervised clinical experience following graduation. 

Take the Next Step in Your Social Work Career 

Have you recently graduated with a degree in social work? Maybe you’ve worked in the field for a few years and are ready to move on to bigger and better things? Whatever the case, we’re dedicated to helping talented professionals (like you) land their next great career opportunity in the social work industry. 

Our specialized team and proprietary talent acquisition tools connect qualified social workers, mental health counselors, foster care social workers, and others with companies looking to fill their job openings. 

Our niche job board allows social workers from all over the country to sign up, search, and apply for jobs free of charge. Sounds amazing, right? Getting started is a three-step process: 

With over 60,000 monthly page views and over 5,000 active listings, you’re sure to find at least one job that meets your search criteria. 

We’re helping fight the growing shortage of social workers. Make your next career move at AlliedHealthJobCafe.com today!

The Growing Shortage of Social Workers
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.