Consider Making Social Work Your Life’s Calling

The focus of social work is to enhance human well-being and help meet all people’s fundamental and complex needs, with a particular concentration on those who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty. If you’re interested in a career that combines meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction and a variety of options, you may want to consider social work.

One unique aspect of social work is that it looks at both the person and their environment. In other words, social workers deal with the external factors that impact a person’s life. Social workers help clients deal with how they feel about a situation and what they can do about it.

And, as with many fields, the need for Black social workers is great. Those who can identify with the plight of people who are affected by many of today’s societal problems, but yet have the ability to help the affected find their way to success is a calling that only you can decide for yourself—and one that nearly all social workers have.

What Do Social Workers Do?

The field of social work is diverse. Social workers help relieve people’s suffering, fight for social justice and improve lives and communities. Social workers can be found in hospitals, helping people cope with chronic illness. They also provide therapy and help prevent students from dropping out of school. You can also find social workers in prisons, helping inmates re-enter communities and providing rehabilitative support in drug and alcohol centers.

Shaw University female students

Shaw University

Careers in Social Work

Social work offers a broad array of opportunities in different settings and specialties, especially for graduates who hold a master’s degree. Some common social work specializations include child, family, school; healthcare; and mental health and substance abuse.

  • Psychiatric Social Workers often work in inpatient psychiatric treatment centers or hospitals, assessing patients’ emotional, interpersonal, social and environmental needs to develop effective treatment plans.
  • Child and Family Social Workers provide various case management services to support children and their families. Those services might include debt counseling, job placement, addiction treatment and family therapy.
  • School Social Workers collaborate with parents, teachers and other support staff to identify solutions for students struggling with grades, interpersonal difficulties or behavior issues.
  • Community Health Workers address health problems at the community level, acting as liaisons between social services and community members. They also connect residents with healthcare services.

In addition, social workers benefit from working in a growing field: experts project a 13% employment growth rate for social workers from 2019 through 2029, outpacing the average employment estimates for other fields. Job prospects look particularly good for clinical social workers as the healthcare industry grows, including increased demand for social workers qualified to provide treatment services.

A survey conducted in 2018 found that nearly 35% of students with a master’s degree in social work direct their practice on children and families. Sightly more than 25% choose to help individuals with mental health issues.


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Core Concepts and Coursework

Curriculums vary from school to school, but in general, a bachelor’s of social work program teaches students about human behavior and the lifespan, social welfare policy, research methods, practices for working with individuals and families, and group practice methods. Depending on the program, some students must complete a practicum, a form of community service that allows students to gain experience in the social work field under a social worker’s direct supervision in a community organization. This direct service may include a seminar for student discussion and theory application.

UNCF Schools to Consider

Seventeen UNCF-member HBCUs offers a bachelor of social work degree, including:

Scholarships and Programs

National assoc of black social workers logoThe National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) provides scholarship resources to students pursuing an education in social work. 

Several scholarships are available through UNCF. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major. The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program offers scholarships, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities to undergraduate African American students. The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program awards a $10,000 scholarship to one exceptional HBCU senior each year who has demonstrated high academic achievement, strong leadership skills, commitment to community service and unmet financial need. If you are interested in a career as a social worker, reach out for guidance. Submit a major interest form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!