The social work job market is expected to be very favorable over the next decade.

In 2012, there were about 607,300 social worker jobs. By 2022, employment of social workers is predicted to increase by 19%, which is faster than the average for all other occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The growing elderly population and the aging baby boom generation will create greater demand for health and social services, resulting in rapid job growth among gerontological social workers. Demand for school social workers is expected to increase as is mental health and substance abuse social workers, with anticipated growth of almost 23%.

Job prospects are especially encouraging for military social workers. A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association found a severe shortage of social workers and other mental health professionals equipped to treat armed forces members, veterans and military families. In addition, opportunities will be particularly abundant in rural areas where there are fewer social work training programs, and it is more difficult to attract and retain qualified social workers.

Below is a snapshot of the current (2014) social worker jobs and projected demand for social workers taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 (Percent) Change, 2014-24 (Numeric) Employment by Industry

Social workers

21-1020 649,300 724,100 12 74,800 [XLSX]

Child, family, and school social workers

21-1021 305,200 324,200 6 19,000 [XLSX]

Healthcare social workers

21-1022 160,100 191,000 19 30,900 [XLSX]

Mental health and substance abuse social workers

21-1023 117,800 140,000 19 22,300 [XLSX]

Social workers, all other

21-1029 66,400 68,900 4 2,500 [XLSX]

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program