Community Social Worker Career

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community social worker

Do you care deeply about making a difference? Community social workers help address social problems wherever people live, work, and gather. Whether they research solutions to meet community needs, advocate for policy changes, or lead teams to deliver community improvement programs, these professionals help make communities safer and healthier for all.

If tackling tough challenges with care and driving positive change sounds great to you, read on to learn more community social worker career requirements and whether this role could be perfect for you! (You can also check out our list of careers in social work to explore other paths in this field.)

What Is Community Social Work

Community social work focuses on broad-scale social problems. Sometimes called macro social work, this field typically involves research, advocacy, and helping community organizations and policymakers develop social programs and services. Community social workers could focus on various areas where change is needed. Think urban planning, community health, education, economics, and more.

The role of a community social worker or macro social worker differs from micro social workers, such as child and family social workers, who typically work directly with individuals and families. This career path is also different from mezzo social workers, who work with groups and institutions. However, community social work supports the work of micro and mezzo social workers by promoting broader social change. Whether it’s through researching solutions or lobbying for new policies, community social workers help provide the information, resources, and advocacy needed to make a difference.

What do community social workers do?

Community social workers help identify and solve for unmet needs in communities. For example, in areas where community violence is a problem, community social workers could analyze the causes of violence and support organizers in developing strategies for violence prevention and intervention. In communities that lack accessible healthcare, community social workers could seek to understand the population’s needs and recommend immunization programs, prenatal care, and other solutions.

Because community social work jobs may differ depending on the needs being addressed, daily tasks tend to vary widely from role to role. Community social workers could perform duties such as:

  • Identify communities and populations that need help
  • Collect and analyze data to learn about community needs or program efficacy
  • Advocate for community resources, grant funding, or policy changes
  • Lead and manage programs that provide resources or services

For more information, check community social worker career descriptions posted by employers. You could get a better sense of the varied work these professionals do to serve communities in need.

How to become a community social worker

Community social workers typically need to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. While a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is a common entry-level requirement for a social work career path, certain social work careers typically require a master’s in social work (MSW). And while in some states only clinical social workers need to earn licensure, other states require even nonclinical social workers to earn a license or other credential. Not sure if your career goals require you to become a licensed social worker? The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is a good starting point for learning about requirements in your state.

Social workers typically need qualities such as compassion, interpersonal skills, and the desire to solve problems. In an MSW in social work that focuses on community or macro social work, you could build these skills while studying topics such as working with organizations and communities, leading human services organizations, fundraising, grassroots mobilization, and a lot more. You could also participate in community social work internships or fieldwork opportunities.

After completing your education, you’ll need to start your job search! Explore social work job descriptions to learn more about potential opportunities where you could start driving community change.

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Community Social Work Careers

Community social workers are likely to be in high demand in the coming years. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for social workers overall, roles are projected to grow by 7 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. For related roles such as community or social services specialist, projected job growth is 9 percent during the same period.

Top employers for social workers include individual and family services, ambulatory healthcare services, state and local government, and hospitals. While social workers may spend a lot of time in an office setting, don’t think you’ll never leave your desk! For instance, you could travel to the communities you are serving, observe challenges firsthand, and collect information about various populations’ needs. Though this job may be fast-paced and a bit stressful at times, community social work is a vocation with the potential to make a difference in many lives.

Community Social Work Career Salary

According to the BLS, social workers including macro or community social workers earned a median annual salary of $55,350 as of May 2022. Salaries may vary depending on the type of social work career you pursue, as well as your employer and how much experience you have.

The joy of making a difference could also be one of the rewards of community social work. As communities continue to face challenges ranging from violence to substance dependency to providing healthcare services for those in need, community social workers could play a critical role in addressing these large-scale problems. If a career in community social work sounds perfect for you, search programs that could help you prepare!

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