What Do Social Workers Really Do?

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Social Workers are employed in so many industries and have so many roles that there isn’t an answer that is fully comprehensive. The field of social work is so diverse and allows one to pursue so many positions that no one person can give a complete answer.


Social workers work to alleviate poverty and eradicate injustice and support people with improving their well-being and functioning.

Not all social workers are employed in child welfare agencies.

Not all social workers provide therapy or clinical services.

Not all social workers work directly with clients in distress.

Not all social workers are employed in nonprofit agencies.

  • Micro social work focuses on the individual and family. 
  • Mezzo social work focuses on small to medium-sized groups and institutions.
  • Macro social work focuses on large systems or settings.


Social work skills can be applied in numerous ways. The career options for a social worker are extremely broad. Below are 25 industries that employ social workers.

  1. Healthcare/Hospital
  2. Gerontology
  3. Substance Abuse/Addiction
  4. Community/Public Health 
  5. Education
  6. Social Service
  7. Military/Veterans
  8. Prison/Corrections
  9. Politics and Public Policy
  10. Research
  11. Environment
  12. Rehabilitation
  13. Juvenile Justice
  14. Employee Assistance/Human Resources
  15. Marriage/Family
  16. Foster Care/Adoption
  17. Federal, State, and Local Government
  18. Child Care/Child Development
  19. Victim Assistance/Crime
  20. Corporations and Businesses
  21. Community Associations
  22. Labor Unions
  23. Hospice
  24. Housing/Homelessness
  25. Development/Fundraising 

What Do Social Workers Do?


Professionally, they do whatever they want to do!

Nicki Sanders, MSW, is a travel and cupcake lover with a passion for self-discovery and career advancement. She has an extensive background in developing and managing interns and successful internship programs. She is an accomplished supervisor, professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has merged her Master of Social Work degree and 20 years of diverse work experience into a thriving business.  Nicki Sanders Consulting helps businesses increase employee recruitment and retention and helps managers uplevel their leadership skills.  

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