Top 6 Degrees Specializations In Social Work

Becoming a social worker is a powerful decision that has the potential to change countless lives. You can pursue many different specializations in this field based on your interest and reach those who suffer from issues beyond their control or knowledge.

Social workers are often required to hold a bachelor’s degree. Often, employers prefer master’s degrees for jobs requiring more advanced knowledge, such as diagnosing mental illness or providing psychotherapy.

Here are six types of specializations in social work and a brief overview of their job duties and salaries.

1. Gerontological social workers

Gerontological social workers play a key role in helping the elderly age with dignity. These professionals are responsible for providing direct services to their clients, such as counseling, advocacy, and case management. They also work with other community organizations dedicated to caring for the elderly, coordinating care, and finding resources for those in need.

If applicable, gerontological social workers must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work plus certification from the relevant state board. Salaries vary widely depending on job duties, level of experience and education, geographical location, and employer; however annual salaries can range from $38-90K.

Job duties may include assisting older adults in making decisions about health care, long-term care arrangements, financial issues, or other decisions regarding the quality of life — all with a focus on helping maintain independent living status. Gerontological social workers provide invaluable support to an aging population by helping them stay connected to their communities and gain access to crucial resources. They ultimately make well-considered decisions to help them live more comfortably in their later years.

2. Adoption social worker

Adoption social workers play a critical role in connecting children to loving families. This job requires extensive knowledge of the adoption process, including laws and regulations, family dynamics, and child welfare.

Adoption social workers meet with adoptive parents to assess their capabilities, investigate backgrounds to ensure safety, provide counseling and prepare legal documents. They also assist current or potential parents with answers to questions they may have about the adoption process or resources available to them.

In addition, they work one-on-one with children going through adoption, helping them adjust mentally and emotionally and providing mental health evaluations upon request.

Depending on their job responsibilities, the average salary of an adoption social worker can range from $45,000 to $ 65,000 annually—a job made even more rewarding knowing it leads to positive changes in people’s lives by building strong families.

An adoption social worker needs a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a field related to social work, such as sociology or psychology, and must be licensed in their state and trained in child wellness practices. It takes compassion and dedication but becoming an adoption social worker can mean a job filled with great rewards for making a real difference in someone’s life!

3. Clinical social workers

Clinical social workers provide mental health and social services to individuals, groups, and families. They assess their client’s situations and provide therapy, crisis intervention, diagnosis, and counseling.

Job duties may also include participating in research projects on behalf of their organization, writing reports for assessments or treatments, referring clients to other services or professionals, and advocating for changes in policies or regulations within the industry.

In addition to job duties, clinical social workers must meet certain educational requirements. Generally, a master’s degree in social work is required for entry-level positions. Clinical social work also requires the completion of an exam to obtain licensing from most states.

According to recent job surveys, the median salary for a clinical social worker is around $76,198 per year. Those with more experience may earn up to $80,000 or higher. If you’re interested in helping people through difficult life circumstances while also earning a competitive salary, then a career as a clinical social worker might be right for you.

4. Community practice social worker

Community practice social workers serve a vital role in providing care and support for individuals, families, and communities. They are responsible for job duties such as conducting individual and group counseling sessions, helping with job searches, facilitating access to resources such as housing or public assistance, participating in community outreach programs, and developing strategies to address social issues.

Becoming a community practice social worker requires a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and licensure requirements depending on the state. Depending on job location and experience level, salaries range from $40,000 to over $50,000 per year; higher-salary jobs can include administrative planning or research positions. In short, community practice social workers provide an important service and should be adequately compensated.

Their job involves connecting people to much-needed resources while helping to create long-term solutions that benefit their entire community.

5. Hospice and palliative care social workers

Hospice and palliative care social workers are highly-trained specialists who support individuals and families facing life-limiting illnesses. These professionals are responsible for various job duties, such as meeting with patients and their families to discuss end-of-life issues, providing emotional counseling, coordinating bereavement services, accessing financial resources, and delivering culturally competent care.

These professionals typically earn between $65k and $98k per year, depending on the job market in their respective locations. To become a hospice and palliative care social worker, job seekers need at least a Bachelor’s degree in social work or a similar field. Additionally, some positions require advanced degrees, experience with medical terminology and software platforms, and licensure from the applicable state board of social work.

All told, a career in hospice and palliative care can be rewarding for those individuals willing to devote their time and energy to helping families dealing with end-of-life issues.

6. Mental health social worker

Mental health social workers are trained professionals who help those facing mental and emotional issues. They provide counseling, advocate on behalf of their clients, manage crisis interventions, coordinate support services and connect people with community resources.

Mental health social workers also develop treatment plans, assess needs, and provide therapeutic interventions. A job in this field requires excellent organizational and communication skills and an ability to empathize with clients.

Mental health social workers typically hold a master’s degree in social work but may be required to have certification or licensure depending on their job setting or geographic location. Salaries for mental health social workers vary depending on the job experience and education level, but the median annual salary is around $50,000 per year.

If you’re looking for a job with a sense of purpose that offers great job security while allowing you to make a real difference in people’s lives, mental health social work could be perfect for you.


As you can see, social work is a varied and rewarding field with many opportunities for those looking to make a difference in the lives of others. If you’re interested in any of the careers we’ve highlighted, research to learn more about the specific requirements and expectations involved in that profession. 

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