Reasons to Study Social Work

Jeanne Steffener, Tulalip Tribes Higher ED

Are you looking for a way to really help people? Social work is a career where you can find work that has real meaning, diversity, satisfaction in helping people discover options and solutions for dire, intense situations in their lives. Social workers help individuals, families and communities find positive solutions. It can also be a catalyst in helping to move social policy in the right direction. 

The primary mission of the social work profession is to improve the well-being of all humans and to help them meet their basic needs while promoting social justice. Social justice includes making sure that people have equal opportunities, the ability to participate in decision making and providing basic needs to people while having opportunities to thrive as a member of society. These principles are applied as they work with everyone including the poor, the elderly, the disabled and importantly children, anyone who is vulnerable. 

History shows us the importance of social work. Jane Addams, a pioneer in the social work effort and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, founded the Settlement House Movement in Chicago in the late 1800’s with the establishment of Hull House which flourished during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sadly, Hull House recently was forced to close due to diminished funding. Jane Adams understood the huge impact that social work had not only a singular person’s well-being but on society as a whole. Due to Jane and others following after her, the way has led to developing a social safety net for those at risk in our society. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 15% of Americans live below the poverty line. People living in poverty need social workers to help them to cope with the overwhelming challenges of homelessness, unemployment, underemployment, and poor health and mental illness. 

About 20% of the U.S. population suffers from some degree of mental illness. In this area, social workers are extremely important, helping to identify clinical services for those suffering from mood disorders, anxiety, psychoses, substance abuse and other serious forms of mental illness. In addition, social workers are the tireless advocates working to provide adequate mental health services, promote equality in health and mental health insurance coverage and confronting discrimination toward people with mental illness. In short, social workers become the support system as well as advocates for disadvantaged persons. 

A degree in Social Work provides students with the ability to undertake a range of different professional roles. As situations are presented daily, social workers can find themselves in many different settings such as hospitals, homes or police departments. The skills developed through studying social work are valued by many employers in many different sectors of employment. These transferrable skills include communication, problem solving, empathy, team work and time management. 

You are probably wondering where you would use your skills as a social worker. Social workers can be in many areas: public agencies, hospitals, police departments, courts, politics, human relations, non-profits, schools, nursing homes and private practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow around 16 % from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all other occupations. Employment growth will be driven by increased demand for healthcare and social services, but will vary by specialization”. 

If you like working with people, Social Work gives you an understanding of how to help people to function better in their environment. If this piques your interested in choosing a satisfying field of study, please call the Higher ED staff at 360-716-4888 or email us at for assistance with this educational path.