14 Exciting Jobs in Social Work You May Not Know About

Friday, Jul 05, 2019

In all likelihood, you know what Social Workers do. For more than a century, Social Workers have helped children, families, the homeless population and aging adults. Social Workers have been on the front lines of social and economic justice for decades.

Increasingly, however, Social Workers are being called to work in new and exciting sectors of society.

For example, these “new” Social Workers assist college and professional athletes with academic progress and life-altering decisions. They work at insurance corporations reviewing behavioral health claims and, more and more, Social Workers are helping in non-traditional environments, including clients’ homes, assisting patients who are neither hospital- nor nursing home-bound.

These different career opportunities for Social Work graduates and professionals allow them to merge personal interests and existing professional backgrounds with clinical and ethical Social Work policies and practices.

Consider these exciting new positions in Social Work:


  1. Athletic Academic Coordinator. That’s right! A growing number of universities now are searching for Social Workers to counsel college athletes with personal or learning challenges, helping them to maintain their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility and assisting them with mental health and behavioral needs. Many of these “Athlete Social Workers” provide mentoring for at-risk student athletes and oversee tutorial programs designed specifically for the college athlete. They coordinate with coaches and faculty members to ensure the athletes are successful in the classroom and on track to graduate. These jobs commonly seek applicants with a bachelor degree in sports management, educational counseling, Social Work or psychology and a couple of years of experience working with college students.  Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi and a dozen other colleges advertise these positions on the NCAA’s web site and on the Alliance of Social Workers in Sports web site. The future looks bright for these positions, as many see these jobs expanding into professional sports and athletic programs.

  2. Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities (Higher Education Social Worker). Could you see yourself advocating for college students? Here’s the position for you! The director of student rights and responsibilities is a university management position responsible for overseeing Title IX complaints and investigations. Title IX is the federal law mandating equal opportunities for all in the areas of college sports, education, scholarships and financial aid, among other areas. In this role, the university Social Worker interprets school policies relating to Title IX and ensures that all university departments comply. Traditionally, this position has been held or overseen by attorneys. However, colleges such as Stephen F. Austin University and the University of Washington in Seattle, are seeking candidates with Master’s degrees in Social Work, public administration, psychology or human resources. In some cases, career candidates hold both a Master’s in Social Work and the Juris Doctor law degree. Search for these positions using the key words “Title IX” and “higher education.”

  3. Renal Care Advocate. This job sometimes is referred to as Dialysis Patient Advocate or Kidney Care Advocate. Renal care advocates are Social Workers who assist end stage renal disease patients and their families to cope with their diagnosis and to understand the insurance plans covering their diagnosis. These positions are becoming popular at both hospitals and renal specialty care facilities.  These positions are similar in nature to Social Workers who work with Cancer patients and Oncologists. The Renal Care Advocate position is a great position for Social Workers who want to travel abroad to Germany, England or elsewhere as these Social Workers are needed worldwide.  Some companies, such as Fresenius Medical Care, are based abroad, but have facilities in the United States. They recruit domestically for positions both here and around the globe.

  4. Health Educator/Coordinator. This position is ideal for Social Work graduates who have earned a bachelor degree, but not yet a Master’s. Health educators often work for insurance companies. This role is a hybrid that requires marketing or business skills alongside Social Work abilities. Health educators organize events targeted toward Medicare consumers. The role requires an understanding of the learning needs and motivations of elderly populations. Ideal candidates are comfortable with public speaking and presenting to senior adults. Find these jobs by searching key words “Medicare”  or “Medicaid” or going to Web sites of insurance companies, such as Humana, that appeal to aging adults.

  5. Disaster Social Worker. Increasingly, students and their families are displaced by hurricanes, tornadoes and natural disasters that destroy homes, schools and communities. Since 2017, the Texas Education Agency has awarded grants to school districts to support the emotional well-being, attendance and learning readiness of children whose homes have been destroyed in floods, fires or events of nature. Career candidates should have Social Work Master’s degrees, licensure as a Master Social Worker by the Texas State Board and be competent working with homeless, foster care and migrant populations. To find these jobs, search using key words “McKinley-Vento,” “Texas Hurricane Homeless Children and Youth Program,” “disaster assistance” or “Hurricane Harvey jobs.”

  6. Research Assistant. Most Social Work majors are aware that, with a doctoral degree, they may conduct research. What you may not know is that graduates with a bachelor or master’s degrees also may pursue careers in research. The American Institutes for Research is one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. If you like data collection, survey design and analyzing methods and techniques, you might consider working in this environment. As a research assistant, you’ll analyze data and contribute to interpreting and reporting it. This agency hires bachelor and master’s level Social Workers for jobs in Texas and in the Washington, D.C. area, where the organization is based. Go to www.air.org for more information.

  7. Compliance Reviewer. This position is perfect for the Social Worker who chooses not to engage directly with clients. In this position, the Social Worker provides oversight and regulation of programs that serve clients with intellectual challenges. Much of this job requires reviewing licenses and certifications of intermediate care facilities and ensuring they comply with federal and state regulation. This position and similar regulatory jobs require up to 85 percent travel across sections of Texas, but they pay well - up to $79,000 annually. A bachelor’s degree and a year of experience working with people with intellectual disabilities is required. Search for compliance reviewer positions at the Texas Health and Human Services website or by searching using key words “compliance reviewer” and “Social Work.”

  8. Secondary School Counselor/Social Worker. Mental health proponents increasingly are calling on schools to hire Social Workers to offer emotional and behavioral interventions to students affected by a variety of home and community issues. Many public education districts are heeding the call. Once hired, these Social Workers support student achievement by providing individual and group counseling. School Social Workers that are trained mental health professionals work with students and their families, teachers, and school administrators to resolve issues and develop a roadmap plan for a student’s success. For example, School Social Workers work with students who exhibit perpetual tardiness, aggressive or antisocial behavior, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and learning disorders. They perform crisis intervention, counseling, and home visits. They train teachers, administrators, parents and community leaders how to identify and address issues such as child abuse, domestic violence and learning disorders.

  9. Behavioral Healthcare Coordinator for Insurance Companies. While behavioral health Social Worker jobs aren’t new, there are now emerging and exciting settings for which these clinicians may practice. Such is the case for the behavioral health care coordinator. For decades, registered nurses worked at insurance companies where they reviewed requests for medically necessary procedures. Now, companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, are hiring Social Workers to consider similar claims for behavioral health cases. These positions commonly require licensure, a Master’s degree and three years of clinical experience.

  10. Juvenile Counselor. Social Workers as mentors? Oh, yes! An estimated 3.2 million youth identify as LGBTQ, according to the National Mentoring Partnership. Research shows that more than half of these youths are at risk of having difficulties developing into healthy adults. They experience higher rates of suicide, bullying, parent and family rejection and homelessness than their heterosexual or cisgender peers. Similarly, African-American boys and young men of color are six times more likely to be victims of murder than their white peers. They account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year, according to My Brother’s Keeper. In addition to paid positions, there are volunteer positions as well. The National Mentoring Project partners individuals willing to make a time commitment and to work one-on-one with youths who are seeking mentors. Go to www.mentoring.org to learn more, become trained and find a waiting youth!

  11. Veterans Health Administrator. Job seekers with military backgrounds and Social Work degrees are among the hottest commodities in the Social Work profession. These career candidates can look forward to working in health care settings that serve the unique needs of military veterans, such as the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System and the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System. These employees deliver a variety of services, including direct health care, and patient education, program designing and administrative oversight. The pay scale nationwide for these positions range from $80,000 to $136,000 and higher. Military and former military candidates should apply for veterans’ preferences, including impending separation, disabled, sole survivor and other benefits and be prepared to provide such documentation. In addition, Licensed Clinical Social Work positions are found throughout the Veterans Health Care System and increasingly work as part of an interdisciplinary care team to include psychiatrists, psychologists and nurse practitioners.

  12. Spiritual Care Social Worker – These positions traditionally were referred to as “chaplains.” However, the new roles of spiritual care Social Workers are much broader than the previous job descriptions of chaplains. Spiritual Care Social Workers commonly work as part of interdisciplinary medical teams and are responsible for psychosocial assessments and counseling of patients facing cancer diagnoses or terminal conditions. They develop spiritual plans of care and assist with access to resources. Spiritual care Social Workers also provide direct spiritual counsel, prayer and ministry as appropriate. These positions often require a Master’s in Social Work degree and in Divinity post-graduate degree. Check the web sites of faith-based medical facilities and cancer care centers or search using key words “spiritual care counselors.”

  13. Private or Specialty Practice Social Worker. Have an entrepreneurial spirit? Want to combine business skills with a Social Work career? Clinicians who work solo provide services ranging from individual and family therapy to crisis intervention and bereavement counseling. Many of these therapists enjoy setting and controlling their own incomes, flexible work schedules and flexible working conditions. Solo practitioners must become licensed in their respective states. Additionally, some states require clinicians to practice under supervision of a medical practitioner. Often, these private practice Social Workers are part of mental health, family or medical care practice and business partnership that includes physicians and nurses.

  14. Special Victims Counselor. This Social Work staffer works alongside police officers, deputies and public safety officials to offer counseling and crisis services to direct responders during large scale events or disasters. They also provide direct services to crime or trauma victims. Varied abilities, including administrative skills, presentation and training and psychological assessment, are needed to be successful in this work. Depending on the agency, travel across the state could be required. Salaries range from $55,000 to $65,000 annually. The Texas Department of Public Safety is hiring!