Are you interested in the field of social work? Check out the three areas that make up the profession to learn about all the different social work jobs that are available.
Most of us, if prompted with the right question would say that we care about human struggle. To some degree, the suffering of others tugs at our heart and sometimes the tug is even strong enough that we follow through on the conviction to do something about it. But then there are people who feel so strongly the conviction to create a direct impact that they dedicate their entire careers to the work. To them, the diversity of social work jobs opens its arms.
“Social work is extremely broad in scope, in terms of practice and employment opportunities,” said Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, chair and professor of social work. “Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations. . . I think people don’t realize how broad the profession is, or how many options there are with a degree in social work.”
All of those employment opportunities fall into one of three categories of social work, according to Social Work Guide. Ranging from micro to macro with mezzo options in between, these jobs can include roles of big-picture planning and policy change in politics all the way down to one-on-one work as an advocate for a child or a family.
If you are someone who is passionate about dedicating your career to this kind of work, here are the three areas of social work where you can step in and make a difference.
Micro social work focuses on helping a family or an individual—these are jobs that often come to mind when people think about social work. They’re the common child and family social worker jobs that focus on getting people the resources they need right now to help change their individual circumstances. Some job options include:
- Clinical social worker
- Psychiatric social worker
- Child and family social worker
- Social and human service assistant
- Health care social worker (including roles like a geriatric social worker and a hospice social worker)
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker
Macro social work is work done to create an impact on a large scale in areas like community systems or institutions. Due to the nature of this type of social work, most efforts are done through a government or non-profit agency. Some job options include:
- Public policy social worker
- Administrative social worker
- Health care administrator
- Research social worker
- Environmental health worker and administrator
- Public health administrator
Mezzo social work is the catch-all bucket that covers any of the areas that fall between micro and macro work. Mezzo social work typically includes work that is focused on support groups, task forces, and neighborhoods. Some job options include:
- School social worker
- Community social worker
- Community health worker and administrator
- Social and community service manager
- Health educator
- Group social worker
Social Work Guide notes that not everyone within the field of social work agrees on how these three areas of micro, macro, and mezzo should be split up. However, it’s still important to understand the function of each one as the success of social work in each category feeds into the success of the other categories. When each one is given proper tools and resources to impact individuals and large groups, then sustainable, long-term change begins to happen.
The promise of that long-term change is what motivates us forward here at Concordia. We’re excited to have a role in helping to shape the next generation of social workers who will go out and change the circumstances of those who need it most.
“One of the nice things about a Christian University is that we can talk about our faith. We have integrated the impact of Christianity on social work across the curriculum,” Dr. Talbot said. “We talk about how our faith in God impacts our work with people. We talk about how our faith in God changes our practice behaviors and changes our perspective of people and their situations. We have the freedom to talk about God and our faith in the classroom, a privilege that does not exist in public schools.”
Theoretically, we emphasize the strengths perspective in practice, and we are hopeful that the added benefit of a Christian perspective will help our students make an even stronger impact on the people and organizations they serve through their social work jobs.
If you’re interested in advancing your career in social work, check out our new Master of Social Work degree.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.