4 MSW Careers That Go Beyond Casework

When most people think of social work, they imagine traditional roles focused on community welfare and support. However, earning a Master of Social Work (MSW) can open up a world of diverse career options that go far beyond conventional social work images. With our society continually evolving, social work has adapted to address challenges and provide specialized care in various sectors with the same trusted skills social workers have. 

If you ask most people what comes to mind when they think of social workers, they’ll likely answer with something similar to caseworkers. However, the popular perception of social work has not kept up with the need and growth of this dynamic field. 

Many careers exist for someone with an MSW. These roles are exciting, challenging, and fulfilling, including:

  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Nonprofit Manager
  • Human Resources Manager

Mental Health Counseling

The recent pandemic has significantly contributed to a growing mental health crisis. Feelings of isolation, stress, and anxiety are all too common, leading to a dramatic increase in mental health concerns across all age groups.

As a mental health counselor, you'll have the privilege to walk beside individuals, helping them tap into their inner strength and resilience. With your empathetic guidance and professional knowledge, you can equip them with coping strategies and stress management tools

Because there are many routes to becoming a mental health counselor, having an MSW is often an overlooked route to the field. 

Substance Abuse Counseling

Commonly referred to as Addiction Counselors, Substance Abuse Counselors have become critically important leaders in creating a healthy society today, especially with growing and pervasive drug addiction crises. 

Because of growing patterns, Substance Abuse Counselors play an important role in helping people fight addiction, create healthy lifestyles, and begin their journey to recovery. When people are dealing with addiction, Substance Abuse Counselors provide the mental, emotional, and behavioral health services that they need to recover from drug and alcohol abuse.

They also provide support for other types of addictions, including gambling, sex, and other unhealthy behavioral issues.

Is earning an MSW right for you? 4 Questions to Ask Before 
Earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work

Nonprofit Manager

Pursuing nonprofit management with a foundation in social work aligns perfectly with our profession's core values: dignity and worth of the person, social justice, and competence. As a nonprofit manager, you'll navigate a wide and varied field, choosing programs and mission-driven work based on your community's needs and access to solutions. 

Your responsibilities include managing human capital and resources, and ensuring the organization meets social needs and achieves its mission and goals.

The nonprofit world is a wide and varied field with many different programs you can support both locally and on a larger scale.

For more traditional careers with an MSW, check out our blog: 
Career Roadmap: What Can You Do With a Master's in Social Work?

Human Resources Manager

Human resources management goes beyond merely "hiring and firing." This career path utilizes many of the skills you learn in an MSW program, including communication, people skills, organizational skills, conflict resolution, and project management. 

As a Human Resources Manager, your primary responsibilities would include creating and enforcing company policies, employee benefits, discipline, equal employment opportunity and navigating employee conflict, hiring procedures, and more.

This field is very human-focused making it an ideal career for an MSW holder. 

The MSW Program at Southern

There are many different social work careers you can pursue that go beyond what we often think of as typical social work.

These are just a few examples, but wherever it is you see yourself in your career, there are a few important things to remember:

  1. The need for talented, passionate social workers has never been stronger
  2. Earning an MSW will prepare you for a wide range of career paths
  3. These are all typical careers to pursue with an MSW and Southern is ready to guide you toward them

With Southern’s Master of Social Work program, you can be part of a diverse community of people who all share one thing in common: being called to serve those in need.

There are two enrollment options for Southern’s program: Advanced Placement and Foundation Placement. Advanced Placement is only available to students who have earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program.

You’ll also have the opportunity to choose from three different emphases:

  • Crisis and Emergency Management
  • Mental Health Practice in Social Work
  • School Social Work

To learn more, we invite you to explore our program page or download our guide that gives you an extensive look inside the program: Make an Impact for Good: The MSW Program at Southern.

Southern MSW Guide

About the Author

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University

Southern Adventist University is a private Seventh-day Adventist college in Collegedale, Tennessee. Our practical graduate programs equip you with in-demand skills and experience that transfer directly into your career path. We hope to help you accomplish your dreams!

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