Not every student studying social work wants to leave school and work for a state, national or local agency, which is why many students look at their options for careers with a Master's in Social Work. Though you might think that you'll be stuck working for a specific agency or organization and seeing the same clients day after day, there are other options out there. You can use your advanced degree to work with specific groups of people or specific employers.
Substance Abuse Counselor
According to the National Association of Social Workers, substance abuse counseling is one of the most in demand jobs. The NASW finds that these men and women typically work in facilities with doctors, counselors and other workers to meet the needs of those struggling with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse counselors may work with those who received a dual diagnosis, which means that the patients have both a mental disease and an addiction. They may work in inpatient facilities, that require patients to live on-site, or at outpatient facilities, that let patients come in for treatment and leave later.
Mental Health Worker
If you like the idea of helping those struggling with mental and emotional issues, you might seek employment as a mental health worker. Though similar to a social worker, mental health workers offer support to those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression and other mental health conditions. They make referrals and arrange for patients to attend group and individual therapy sessions, and they put those patients in touch with local organizations that can provide other types of assistance. Those organizations can help them pay for their medications, get access to low cost healthcare and find them affordable housing.
Child Welfare Advocate
Some of the careers with a Master's in Social Work involve working with children. A child welfare advocate is someone who looks out for the best interests of a child in a specific situation. Investigating child abuse claims is one of the most important responsibilities of the job. They talk with kids and make them feel comfortable enough to open up about the mental, physical or sexual abuse that they experience at home and in other places. Child welfare advocates also meet with the parents or guardians and make a decision on what happens next, including whether to remove the kids from the home or enroll the parents in parenting classes.
Hospital Social Worker
Hospitals across the country desperately need social workers. Instead of working for an agency that might handle the same cases and clients day after day, you'll have the chance to work with a diverse group of people. Hospital social workers, also known as medical social workers, make arrangements for patients prior to those individuals leaving the hospital. This might include finding transportation for the patient, arranging for care in hospice or a nursing home or helping patients find ways to get the equipment that they need to care for themselves at home.
There are many things that you can do with a degree in social work outside of working for a traditional agency. The internships and clinical experiences that you do in graduate school can help you learn more about the potential careers with a Master's in Social Work, including positions as a medical social worker or child welfare advocate.