Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects an overall projected growth for social workers of 12% (74,800 new jobs) from 2014 to 2024; faster than the average of all occupations. The proposed areas of concentration for the Auburn University MSW program—health and mental health—are both projected to see larger than average increases in demand. Healthcare social work is expected to grow 19% (30,900 new jobs) and mental health and substance abuse social work is expected to grow 19% (22,300 new jobs).


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that professional Social Workers comprise the largest group of mental health service providers (over 200,000 nationally), which is more than psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurses combined.  In addition, a recent study by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) found that half of all Social Work positions are employed in mental health (37%) or health settings (13%).


Graduates of the Auburn University MSW program will find a diverse field of employment opportunities both regionally and nationally. Opportunities for employment include inpatient hospital (both adult and pediatric), outpatient medical clinics, Veteran’s Administration (currently employs over 10,000 social workers), active duty (or civilian service) military (regionally Ft. Ruker, Maxwell AFB, Ft. Benning), nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, home health care, Hospice, Dialysis centers, mental health clinics (inpatient/outpatient), substance abuse treatment centers, public health, policy advocacy, and disaster services to name a few. 


In Alabama, growth has also been projected for mental health and substance abuse social workers (21%) and child, family, and school social workers (17%) [both areas classified by the BLS as “National Bright Outlook Occupations” in addition to medical social work (43% growth)]. Workforce data from the state of Alabama demonstrates that health and behavioral health constitutes about 47% of public social work positions.  The Alabama Department of Labor has projected that occupations for Medical and Public Health Social Workers will increase 43% from 2010 to 2020.  In fact, Medical Social Work has been identified as an “Alabama Hot 40 Demand Occupation,” appearing 9th on the list of occupations that require a master’s, doctoral, or professional degree. Many positions within the medical field require the MSW degree.



What can I expect to earn as a Social Worker?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for social workers specializing in medical and healthcare settings was $52,380 in 2014. During the same year, mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a median annual income of $42,170. For Social Workers specializing in child, family, and school settings, the median annual income was $42,350 in 2014, and social workers in other settings earned a median annual income of $58,560.

Last Updated: January 04, 2017