Social work and the diverse specialties you can work in

Social work is a challenging but fulfilling field for those who take on the role. You work alongside clients who come from different walks of life. Your clients are different genders, age groups, races, and so much more. As a social worker, you can also focus on a specialty that best suits your preferences and expertise. A few of them will be covered more in depth, as they are the most in-demand fields today.

What kind of education should a prospective social worker have?

Social workers are highly trained in their field. They also receive an education from their institution of choice in an effort to learn about social work and the services they can provide to their clients. The undergraduate degree that social workers acquire is a BSW.

Students already with this degree can also pursue a higher degree. It can be done through Keuka College’s advanced standing MSW online program, which you can learn more about, here. You will focus on various elements, including the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses and emotional and behavioral situations that may fall under the purview of your duties. Such programs can help you get the experience you need to work in many specialty fields (including a few that we’ll cover in-depth). A higher education degree opens the door to many opportunities. You will also have the ability to possess a variety of knowledge in your chosen field of social work. The program length for this MSW program will take just under two years to complete.

Social work isn’t just about the pay you earn. It is more about the lives you change for the better. You provide them with the guidance and the paths that will lead them toward a better life. A social worker can help their clients get through life while rising above their mental health issues or conquering a life-threatening disease such as addiction.

While social workers are not necessarily doctors, they, too, have the power to save someone’s life. The difference is that they can talk them through the process by exercising different strategies based on the client’s treatment plans.

What are the different fields of social work that exist?

Addiction and substance abuse

With the alarming rates of addiction and substance abuse in the United States, it’s no secret that social workers in this field are desperately needed. One of the most critical moments of a recovering addict’s life is admitting that they have a problem with substances. An intervention takes place, even in the presence of a social worker.

Keep in mind that addiction is not something that pertains to just substances. There are also different kinds that exist, such as addiction to food, sex, and other vices a person may be struggling with. As a social worker, you could explore the possible avenues of addiction that are not associated with substances.

Mental health

Aside from addiction and substance abuse, mental health has also been discussed much more over the years. With the stigma lower than it was in the past few decades, many people are starting to open up about their mental health struggles. As such, a social worker specializing in this field will often put together strategies to help them cope with the issues they are facing as part of their treatment plan.

A mental health social worker can work with individuals, groups, or even families. You can choose to work in an environment that is more comfortable, not just for yourself but also for your client. Individual social work can be more laser-focused as you are working one-on-one with your client to ensure you are meeting their needs.

Pediatric social worker

This field is exclusive to working with children. Similar to mental health social workers, this field provides you with the opportunity to meet with the child individually or with their family. You can also work in conjunction with your local medical facility or mental health organization, or independently.

Medical social worker

It expands more into the previously discussed field. The difference is that it not only covers pediatric patients but also adults from 18 to elderly patients. A social worker in this field will focus on any special needs that may need to be addressed, along with providing assistance during the discharge process.

They can also assist patients with any resources that are available to them in regard to the financial and emotional toll it can take on a client and their medical needs.

Social workers for the elderly

A social worker with a specialty in geriatrics will work with clients 65 years of age or older. The issues that people in this demographic struggle with include depression, feelings of isolation, and similar issues. It may be due to the fact that their spouse may have died, or they may be victims of abuse and neglect. 

There are different situations that geriatric clients may face in which a social worker is needed. As such, they can work with geriatric clients individually or with their family members. Depending on the situation, a social worker specializing in geriatrics can provide their clients with relevant resources based on their needs and specific situations.

Clinical social workers

This field is one of the most common in social work. They can work in different settings, such as a community mental health organization or hospital, or independently as a private practice. This social worker will have similar responsibilities as a mental health social worker and work to educate and care for their patients. 

They can also take prevention-based measures to help people keep their mental health under control without having to develop any mental health issues or, subsequently, addiction or substance abuse issues (which can be tied to mental health disorders). For example, they will provide them with a proper treatment plan so their client does not need to turn to substances as a self-medicating solution.

The need for social workers is always present

Many people look for the assistance of a social worker each day. Whether it’s for themselves or their family members, you have the opportunity to fulfill their needs whenever and wherever necessary. While you may work with patients who may be difficult, it takes patience, understanding, and the right education to make a career out of it.

You can make a positive impact on your clients, young or old. At the end of the day, it is a career that you can appreciate for as long as you provide a service.


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