5 Non-Profit Jobs for Social Workers

Social workers have a very promising career outlook over the next decade. This projected career growth points to an increasing demand for social services to help underserved and disenfranchised individuals and populations productively reconnect with society. It also highlights new vacancies in the work force as social workers retire and open up new opportunities for young professionals to take over.

1. Social Work Researcher

As a social work researcher, you will be responsible for researching the special needs of different populations. Whether you are working with geriatric adults, foster kids, veterans and military families, the rural poor, immigrants, individuals suffering from mental illness, substance abusers or other special needs populations, new research is in demand to be better understand the needs of each group and how to meet those needs.

Many non-profit organizations, from universities to private charities, employ social work researchers in these types of research projects to help them better understand the needs of the populations they serve. In this role, a social worker is often working with sociologists to help form the foundation of new programs and services to reach special populations.

2. Substance Abuse Case Worker

Addiction and substance abuse is on the rise even as certain drugs such as marijuana become legalized for medical use. As well, prescription drug use is rising in diverse populations from teens to the elderly.

As a substance abuse case worker for a non-profit low-cost clinic or center, you may be working with sociologists as well as meeting with many clients each week to support them in detoxification, therapeutic sessions and classes, life skills training and re-entry into productive society.

3. Hospice Social Worker

As the nation’s population continues to age, there is also a growing need for social workers to serve in hospice. Hospice is considered an alternative to institutional living such as in nursing care or hospital facilities.

Many hospice organizations are non-profits that are home care-based to support both the elderly individual and loved ones through the final days of life. Here, your social work skills in listening, case management (to connect family members to supportive resources) and working with sociologists interested in hospice will be in high demand.

4. Social Worker in the Educational Setting

Increasingly, children, young adults and college students are reporting high levels of depression and anxiety. As an educational social worker, you can provide one-to-one and/or group support to students for a variety of reasons.

In this role, you may find yourself working with sociologists and teaming up with a variety of other professionals as well, including psychologists, doctors, child protective services advocates, nurses and teachers all working to support the students to do their best in school.

5. Public Policy Social Worker

The role of a public policy social worker is particularly complex. You are a researcher, an advocate, an educator, a trainer, a writer, a speaker and many more roles besides as you work to enact policies to better serve special needs populations.

In working with sociologists who are pursuing similar goals, you will be able to draw on each other’s knowledge and expertise to push for policy change in areas where it is needed most.

These are just five of the many exciting nonprofit jobs open to social workers in the coming years. There is also the option to chart your own course by starting your own nonprofit or partnering with colleagues to found a new organization to serve an unmet need in the community.

Related Resource: 50 Most Affordable Accredited MSW Programs in the East