Social Work Statistics

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Updated on March 29, 2022

Projections from the US Department of Labor show that social work is expected to grow every year in America. The profession has continued to garner more relevance among organizations, adding more value to communities in its service scope. 

According to official US Department of Labor data, at least 80,000+ social work jobs will be added before 2030

Since social work is one of America’s fastest growing professions, there’s evidence that the trend will increase for much longer.  Over fifty organizations require social workers to provide several vital services in the US and other countries. 

1. Social work as a profession is expected to add 12% more jobs by 2030

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Projections show that social work will add at least 12% more jobs in the next eight years. Numbers collated show that social work as a profession will grow faster than most US occupations within the same period. 

2. In 2020, more than 710,000 social work jobs were occupied in America 

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Qualified professionals in the US occupied at least 715,000 social work jobs in 2020 alone. The total number of US social workers is expected to steadily increase annually.  

At least 81,000 new social work jobs will be added in the coming years, according to reports from several sources. Estimates also show that there will be an 89,200 employment change across social work jobs by 2030. 

3. The average working life expectancy of social workers is less than 10 years

Research Gate

Social workers average 8 years throughout active practice, making it one of the careers with a low span. Other professions could last multiple decades than workers in the social work space. 

Different factors might cause an extension in the career span of social workers in some sectors. But the demanding nature of professional social work might reduce the total years someone practices client/community services. 

4. The work life expectancy of a social worker is three times lesser than that of a doctor

Research Gate

Doctors have a twenty-five (25) year work life expectancy on average, that’s three times more than that of social workers. Social work is one occupation with a very short career span when compared to other professions.  

Nurses also have a sixteen (16) year work life expectancy, which is twice more than that of social workers.  

5. $51,760 is the median annual pay for US social workers

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Social workers earn $51,760 every year, at an average of $4,320 per month. The sector a social work offers services in usually determines how much pay they get per year. 

Local government social workers could earn around $58,000 or more based on several factors. 

6. Over 78,000 job openings for social workers are projected annually

Bureau of Labor Statistics

More than 78,300 social work jobs are available each year, according to recorded labor statistics. These numbers are expected to keep growing annually, since projections estimate social workers to be in demand year-on-year.  

7. Social workers perform nine (9) main duties while at work

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Social workers must:

  • Identify in-need communities
  • Assess needs and determine goals 
  • Help clients and communities adjust to significant life changes
  • Conduct research, give referrals, and promote advocacy towards improving clients’ wellbeing
  • Champion responses to crises of different forms
  • Engage client follow-up to ensure situation improvement
  • Ensure maintenance of records and files
  • Initiate program evaluation and development to guarantee all clients’ needs are met
  • Refer or offer psychotherapy  

8. School, child, and family social workers make up almost 50% of all social work jobs available

Bureau of Labor Statistics

About 335,500 social workers were employed in the School, Child, and Family section in 2020. That means about 46.8% of social workers offer their services to schools, children, and families in the US. 

9. Individual and family services employ 4% more social workers than in other sectors

The Individual and Family Services (IFS) sector has several roles best suited to social workers. About 43,820 social workers are currently employed in the IFS sector, that’s 4% higher than other areas. 

However, the numbers for ambulatory healthcare services increase if social workers in hospitals and education are included. 

The current percentage of IFS social workers is 18%. But local government, ambulatory healthcare, and state government sectors employ 14% each of US social workers.  

10. Social workers require ten (10) essential qualities to perform their duties

School of Social Work, University of Buffalo

Social workers have to be empathic to perform their duties efficiently. Empathy from social workers provides an ability to understand the point of view and experience of other people. 

Professional social workers require sharp critical thinking skills to thrive in their chosen field. Critical thinking skills allow social workers gather information, conduct analysis, observations, and communicate effectively. 

Also, social workers must possess great communication skills to effectively perform on the field. Social workers should communicate with people clearly, regardless of several socio-economic, demographic, health, and cultural differences. 

The ability to organize activities amid busy schedules and several responsibilities is crucial for professional social workers. Organization allows social workers prioritize needs of all clients to manage all cases professionally. 

Other essential skills required to perform social work professionally include:

  • Advocacy skills for social justice promotion and client/community empowerment
  • Proper self-care engagement
  • Cultural competency
  • Listening skills
  • Commitment to social work ethics and values 
  • Patience