Online social work programs provide you with the skills you need to pursue a rewarding career helping individuals and communities.
Though the field has a broad scope, you can specialize in an area that suits your interests, whether it’s working with individuals, children, veterans, or elderly adults. Earning your social work degree online offers the flexibility to study while employed, the opportunity to make connections in the industry and earn field experience, and prepare for the social work licensure exam.
Learn more about the variety of social work degrees available online, what you should look for in a school and program, career outcomes, and more.
Is a Social Work Degree Worth It?
An online social work degree gives you the credentials needed to help individuals and communities. Depending on your career level, having a degree can increase your earning potential, make you more marketable to employers, and help you enter a career that you enjoy.
Social work professionals are in demand, as employment is predicted to increase 16% through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While salaries depend on experience, degree level, and industry, social workers earn a median annual salary of $47,980.
In-Demand Social Work Areas
Online social work programs allow you to concentrate on an area of the field that interests you. Whether you desire to specialize in helping and improving the lives of children, veterans, or your community, you can find an online social work degree that will help you build your skills for this rewarding yet challenging field.
Social workers who work with individuals, groups, and communities may determine ways to improve resources and conditions for those they serve. They also provide counseling and therapy. Other social workers who work with specific conditions also provide counseling and therapy, but may also advocate for policy improvements and conduct research on their area.
Social workers often develop expertise in the following areas:
Online Social Work Degrees
With one of the many online social work programs available, you can find purpose in your job as you focus on improving the quality of life for others. Through a flexible online format, you’ll be able to fit your studies into your busy schedule. Earning your social work degree online can help you achieve your goals as a successful social worker.
With an online associate degree in social work, you will get an introduction into the field and explore the fundamentals of social work practice. On associate degree can typically be earned in two years. After graduation, you may be qualified to work in assistant roles, such as a case management aide or a community outreach worker.
An online Bachelor of Social Work goes deeper into the fundamentals of social work practice than an associate program does, and you will have the opportunity to earn real-world experience through a required internship. Earning your BSW online prepares you for the social work licensure exam.
Online Master of Social Work programs open the doors for career advancement and prepare you for a higher-level career within the field. Upon graduation, you can pursue a career at an administrative level or in counseling. As online MSW programs are designed for the working professional, you can earn your degree while employed full time.
What to Look for In an Online Social Work School?
As you search for the right online social work program, you should look for the following things from the school and program:
- Flexible course schedule
- Skilled instructors
- Field education
It is important to ensure that the online program you are interested in is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE has set standards for the quality of social work programs. To receive your social work license, most states require that you have a degree from a program accredited by the CSWE. Also, make sure that the school also holds a regional accreditation.
Common Misconceptions About Online Social Work Degrees
If the online program you’re interested in is accredited, chances are it has a required field education component. Even though the classroom portion of your program is online, you will have to complete a certain amount of hours through an internship with a nearby agency in your area of interest.
A high-quality online social work program will give you the knowledge and skills you need to pursue licensure. Social work licensure is granted at the state level. In order to become a licensed social worker, you must complete a CSWE-accredited degree program prior to applying for your license. You must then take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.
If your background is in a different area than social work, an online degree program can help you enter the field. Earning your social work degree online will show employers that you are dedicated to changing your career and that you have the credentials needed to be successful.
Interview with a Social WorkerView All Interviews
Clinical Social Worker
What’s It Like Being a Social Worker?
Kristina entered the field of social work to help others with issues in their everyday lives. She gives her perspective on the profession.View Full Interview
I would have to say that, throughout my six years of education, each and every professor I had was so enthusiastic for their niche, and I soon learned that that’s how the field is. To be in this field, you have to be an open-minded, genuinely-care-for-others type of human being.
I think what surprised me the most is how resilient my patients and clients are. Some of them have been through some pretty awful life circumstances and situations, and they are finding the silver lining. The same goes for my colleagues. They are the most selfless groups [of] people I have ever met.
I wish I would have known that it’s okay not know things sometimes. People perceive us as having all the answers and can fix everything, but our job isn’t “fixing” people. If someone is stagnant or not successful in treatment, it’s not a reflection on me, and it took a while to come to terms with that.
Dip your feet in every aspect of the field that you can. The field has endless possibilities, and during grad school and even the first years in the field, you are trying to find your niche. A great reason to join the field is simply because you have so many options.
Where Can an Online Social Work Degree Take You?
With a degree in social work, you can pursue many careers that will allow you to help others and communities.
Highest Paying Careers in Social Work
All career information is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job outlook is for 2016 through 2026. View more social work careers.
Healthcare Social Worker
Healthcare social workers help clients manage their illnesses by determining ways to help them adjust their housing, healthcare, and lifestyle.
- Median annual salary: $56,200
- Job outlook: 20%
- Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
Clinical Social Worker
Licensed to treat behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders, clinical social workers help patients cope with difficult situations and provide references to additional services, such as other mental health professionals and support groups.
- Median annual salary: $49,470
- Job outlook: 16%
- Typical education: Master’s degree
Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker
Helping patients with mental illnesses or addictions, these social workers help clients cope with their disorders and provide information on additional resources.
- Median annual salary: $44,840
- Job outlook: 19%
- Typical education: Master’s degree
Explore Social Work Degrees Online
Earning a social work degree online in the field can set you on a path towards a rewarding and meaningful career. View our selection of social work online degree programs below.