How to Earn a Social Work Degree Online?

Social work Degree Online

Social workers help individuals identify and cope with their everyday lives. Unlike a service assistant or substance abuse counselor, they help people struggling with a broad range of problems. Some assist individuals who are unemployed and in poor health by referring them to community resources and government agencies. Others, called clinical social workers, help people that may have mental, behavioral or emotional problems that have not been diagnosed yet.

There are many different types of social workers, including those that work specifically with children and families, schools, health care institutions or people with mental or substance abuse issues. These professionals act as a resource to guide people who are in need of assistance.

Online social worker degree programs may be beneficial because they can teach you about the diverse umbrella of occupations you could pursue as a social worker. Moreover, online programs often allow students to work in their downtime at their convenience, making it easier to juggle studying with a job or other home responsibilities.

Is a Social Worker Degree Online for You?

Here are some things to consider when choosing an online social worker program:

  • Carefully research what is required to become a specific type of social worker beforehand. Some positions require a master's degree and license while others may not, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[i]

  • Direct-service positions, that include caseworkers and mental health assistants, often require only a bachelor's degree. Positions in health care, at schools or as a clinical social worker, often require a master's degree as well as some post-graduate school experience. 

  • States also mandate that social workers achieve certification, and these regulations vary by location.

  • Before choosing an online degree program, research the particular route you would like to go, what requirements are necessary in your state and whether the online program will help you prepare for necessary certifications or training.

Social Worker Careers and Potential Salaries

There are many different paths you can take as a social worker, and the day-to-day responsibilities vary tremendously. Research what routes you may be interested in using these salary and growth figures:

Social Workers[i]

This is the umbrella term for individuals who may work in schools, health care institutions or directly with people struggling with various psychological troubles. The requirements for employment are different from one institution to another, but the commonality is that all social workers actively try to assist people and find the help they need to overcome everyday problems.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 19 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree or higher

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors[ii]

These professionals specifically assist victims with addiction and those with behavioral issues that may affect bodily and psychological health. They put together programs and provide treatment and support for individuals to put them on a track toward recovery. Advising individuals may continue long after behaviors have been successfully modified.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 31 percent (faster than average)
  • Entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Social and Community Service Managers[iii]

The public and private organizations where social workers are employed must be managed somehow. That's where an administrative staff of social and community service managers comes into play. These professionals focus on the bigger picture, coordinating social service programs and directing staff that provide assistance to the broader public. They direct where funding for the organizations goes and put together outreach programs to raise awareness and get people the help they need.

  • See the BLS for median annual salary information
  • Job growth through 2022: 21 percent (as fast as average)
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree