Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, but will vary by social worker specialty.
Employment of child, family, and school social workers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Child and family social workers will be needed to work with families to strengthen parenting skills, prevent child abuse, and identify alternative homes for children who are unable to live with their biological families. In schools, more social workers will be needed due to rising student enrollments. However, employment growth of child, family, and school social workers may be limited by federal, state, and local budget constraints.
Employment of healthcare social workers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare social workers will continue to be needed to help aging populations and their families adjust to new treatments, medications, and lifestyles.
Employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment will grow as more people seek treatment for mental illness and substance abuse. In addition, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs, which are staffed by these social workers, rather than being sent to jail.
Overall, job prospects should be good, particularly so for candidates with a master's degree and licensure.
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program