Social Worker Career Outlook
Employment of social workers is expected to grow by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be due to an increase in demand for health care and social services but will vary by specialty.
Employment of child, family, and school social workers is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for child and family social workers should continue to grow because they will be needed to investigate child abuse cases and to place children in foster care and with adoptive families. However, growth in this occupation may be limited by budget constraints at all levels of government. In schools, more social workers will be needed to respond to rising student enrollments. The availability of federal, state, and local funding will be a major factor in determining the actual employment growth in schools.
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Employment of healthcare social workers is expected to grow by 34 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations. As baby boomers age, they and their families will require help from social workers to find care, which will increase demand for healthcare social workers.
Employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers is expected to grow by 31 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected as more people seek treatment for mental illness and addiction. In addition, drug offenders are increasingly being sent to treatment programs rather than to jail. As a result, use of substance abuse treatment programs is expected to grow, increasing demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition
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