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Social Work Major

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Social Work

22,631 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
29,527 Master's Degrees Annually
#24 in Popularity
$58,470 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Social Work Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many social work graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 29,700
Bachelor’s Degree 22,655
Associate’s Degree 1,831
Doctor’s Degree 522
Basic Certificate 498
Graduate Certificate 452
Undergraduate Certificate 287

What Social Work Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to social work were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Social Work Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Skills for Social Work Majors

social work majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Social Work Majors

As you progress with your social work degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

What Can You Do With a Social Work Major?

People with a social work degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 14.2% $46,270
Counselors 14.2% $42,130
Healthcare Social Workers 20.1% $56,200
Marriage and Family Therapists 23.4% $50,090
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 19.4% $44,840
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 5.7% $53,020
Social and Community Service Managers 18.0% $65,320
Social Work Professors 9.4% $68,300
Social Workers 8.3% $63,140

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work?

22,655 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
88% Percent Women
45% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
Social Work runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #24 out of all the undergraduate majors we track. In 2018, about 22,631 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this field. The major attracts more women than men. About 88% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of social work majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Social Work Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 558
Black or African American 4,573
Hispanic or Latino 4,244
White 11,676
International Students 187
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,417

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Social Work. About 0.8% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Canada
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India

How Much Do Social Work Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work have a median salary of $31,000 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $28,600 (25th percentile) and $33,100 (75th percentile).


It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in social work, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $49,760 to $62,660 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to social work. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Social Work Major  ( 49760 to 62660 )
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )

Some degrees associated with social work may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for social work careers below.

Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.8%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.9%
Some College Courses 1.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 36.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 0.8%
Master’s Degree 39.3%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 8.4%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.2%
Doctoral Degree 7.2%
Post-Doctoral Training 1.3%

Online Social Work Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 840 schools offered some type of social work program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 71 6
Certificate (1-2 years) 31 2
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 150 16
Bachelor’s Degree 49 5
Post-Baccalaureate 71 6
Master’s Degree 325 67
Post-Master’s 21 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 79 6
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 6 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Social Work Worth It?

The median salary for a social work grad is $58,470 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 47% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $371,400 after 20 years!


You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to social work.

Major Number of Grads
Public Administration 16,874
Human Services 14,962
Public Policy 5,550
Community Organization & Advocacy 2,775
Other Public Administration 957


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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