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Social Work

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Social Work Major

54,708 yearly degrees
#20 in popularity
$58,000 median salary

Social work is a major that typically falls into the Public & Social Service category.

There are 150 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in social work, 616 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 325 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 85 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Social Work Degree?

Social work runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #24 out of all the majors we track. In 2017, about 22,500 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this major. The major attracts more women than men. About 88.5% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 2.5%
  • Black or African American: 20.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 18.7%
  • White: 51.5%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 0.8%
  • Other Races: 6.3%
Social Work Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in social work. About 0.8% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending social work majors to the U.S. are China, Canada and South Korea.

What Will You Learn as a Social Work Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to social work to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Social Work Majors

A major in social work should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Social Work Majors

Skills for Social Work Majors

A major in social work prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for Social Work Majors

Abilities for Social Work Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a social work student include the following:

Important Abilities for social work Majors

What Can You Do With a Social Work Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with social work:

Careers Related to Social Work
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Healthcare Social Workers



Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists



Social Workers



Marriage and Family Therapists



Social Work Professors



Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers



Social and Community Service Managers






Child, Family, and School Social Workers



Social Work Major Salary

Social work majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $50,000 to $63,000. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Social Work Major  ( 50000 to 63000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Social Work Major Jobs

Some careers associated with social work require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. 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 Levels for Careers Associated With Social Work
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Social Work Programs

There are 616 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in social work, with 58 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Social Work Major Worth It?

The median salary for a social work grad is $58,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 50% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $391,400 after 20 years!

social work salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Army Medicine via License

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