Social workers are a dedicated group as they work daily to help individuals and families resolve issues in their lives and improve their quality of life.
For most entry-level social work jobs, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. However, there are some jobs in social work without a degree required.
Below, we will review a few entry-level social work jobs and the ways you can start a career in social work.
Getting Experience for a Career in Social Work
There are many ways to gain experience and explore a potential entry-level job as a social worker.
Work at a Group Home or Rehab Facility
Finding work at a group home or a rehab facility are two great entry-level social work jobs.
These jobs do not always require a bachelor’s degree, but you may need a certification or an associate’s degree. You might also need to get registered with the state you live in to qualify for a group home position.
If you do not qualify for work near you, group homes and rehab facilities are always looking for volunteers. While volunteering, you will gain valuable contacts and work experience to apply for a position when one becomes available eventually.
Work as a Case Assistant
Case assistants do not have the same responsibilities as social workers, but they do help assist clients on a day-to-day basis.
Case assistants provide the necessary support to the case managers and social workers where they work. Becoming a case assistant is one of the better entry-level social work jobs that someone looking to enter the industry can get.
Volunteer to Gain Experience
One of the primary ways you can gain experience with careers in social work is to volunteer with an organization that serves people you care about.
While there, you get first-hand work experience in the field of social work. At the same time, you will help people that you care about make their lives better through the organization’s work.
Work Under a Program Coordinator or Director
If you want to be a program coordinator or director, you might not initially qualify for the position without proper experience or education. However, you can work as a receptionist or an assistant to the program coordinator or director.
Working in these positions gives you experience and insight into how a program is organized and runs efficiently. After some time in these roles, you may be able to move up to a program coordinator or director position.
Entry-Level Social Work Jobs
Of course, before you turn your passion for helping people into a career, you have to first find an entry-level job in social work.
Most entry-level social work jobs are extremely front-facing, meaning you will have heavy interaction with the people you’ll help. Here are a few of the entry-level careers available in the social work field these days.
Work as a Drug Counselor
In most of America, various organizations are regularly hiring drug counselors. While a drug counselor (or “addiction” counselor, in some cases) sometimes works for a rehab facility, there are other places of employment.
In some states, a drug counselor can work at a facility used in diversionary sentencing for people arrested while intoxicated. In some states, they may even teach multi-day courses for people arrested for driving under the influence of an intoxicant.
Work with Children
Another entry-level job for the budding social worker is the role of a child welfare specialist, sometimes known as a child welfare worker.
As the title suggests, this means working with children, often children who are going through traumatic experiences or who have issues at home or in their school.
Working with children in social work can also mean working for a government or charity entity, like Child Protective Services or any of a plethora of charities dedicating their time to helping disadvantaged children.
This is, arguably, some of the most emotionally rewarding work a social worker can find—working to help some of the most vulnerable members of society to find a pathway to success and happiness.
Work with the Elderly
Speaking of vulnerable members of society, working with the elderly—generally known as eldercare—can be very rewarding, albeit psychologically challenging.
Some elderly people end up in the care of the state or an organization in their twilight years, and working as their advocate makes a big difference and can protect them from those who would prey upon them for their money, their retirement fund, their property, or even their personally identifying information.
Eldercare organizations are almost always looking for more personnel and are a great way to get your start in the field of social work.
Many eldercare organizations have deep connections with a number of other social work organizations in their area of operations, due to overlapping needs and responsibilities. Because of the need for personnel, eldercare provides many jobs in social work without a degree requirement.
The Growing Demand for Social Workers
With each passing day, there are more social worker jobs available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2019 to 2029, employment of healthcare workers is projected to grow by 14%—well beyond projections for other fields in the same ten-year time period.
Social Worker Earnings
Along with a faster-than-average job growth rate, social workers also receive decent pay. As of May 2021, the median pay for all social workers in the United States is $50,390. That is about 10% higher than the national median wage of all workers.
In addition, some states pay better or worse than others. For example, Hawaii has the highest average pay for social workers, which is around $85,760. However, Tennessee pays less than every other state, with an average salary of $48,350.
Keep in mind that there are other factors that affect pay as well, such as educational level, experience, and industry. For this reason, entry level social work jobs often pay lower than those requiring a doctoral degree. Despite this, there are a few career options in social work that pay decent wages.
3 Different Types of Entry-Level Social Work Positions and Their Reported Pay
Here are three different popular social work positions and their average pay.
1. Teacher’s Assistant
At all educational levels, a teacher’s assistant or TA works under the supervision of a licensed teacher. They often work with children who have special needs or in early childhood education centers. During a typical day, a TA may help manage students, prepare lessons, and set up educational equipment.
Since there are some school districts that don’t require a degree to be a TA, it is a great entry-level option for those who aren’t pursuing a degree.
According to Indeed, teacher’s assistants make an average of $13.85 per hour or $29,552 annually. This is based on approximately 11,200 reported salaries throughout the United States.
2. Case Aide
A case aide primarily works with case managers in major social work organizations specializing in healthcare, social services, or even child care. They usually help collect information for case files and interview clients on behalf of the case manager.
As of May 2022, case aides earn an average salary of $40,590 per year based on 23,000 reported salaries. Entry-level case aides make the most in major cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Houston.
3. Community Organizer
If you have a passion for non-profits or community-based work, an entry level position as a community organizer may be a great choice.
As a community organizer, your sole goal is to make positive changes to the lives of those within your community. This means planning community projects, creating social programs, and more.
Compared to other entry-level social work jobs, this one pays relatively well. Indeed lists the average base salary for community organizers at $47,055. However, this is based on a significantly lower number of reported salaries nationwide, which is only around 275.
Explore a New Social Work Career
If you are interested in a career in social work, take a look at Stratford Career Institute’s social work learning course to see if this path is one you’d like to pursue!
You will learn everything you need to know about entry-level social work jobs and more, including:
- The Foundations of Human Behavior and Socialization
- Attitudes That Promote Human Relations Success
- Stress and Frustration
- Introduction to Social Psychology
- Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
- Persuasion by Communication and by Action
- Applying Social Psychology to Law, Business, and Health
- Professional Credentials and Regulations
- Ethical and Legal Issues Facing Helpers
Explore a Career in Social Work
Are you interested in becoming a social worker? Stratford Career Institute offers a comprehensive course that can set you on the right path.