Advocacy in Action

Through the stories we share, the Admissions Team at Baylor University hopes to inspire and educate future leaders in the field of social work.

5 Nontraditional Careers in Social Work

The career field for social work professionals is extremely broad. Social workers are employed in hospital settings, congregations, schools, prisons, international agencies, adoption agencies, veteran and military agencies, immigration services and everything in between. But these more traditional settings for social work are not the only options, the scope of possibilities is far greater!

If you are interested in pursuing unique or niche social work careers, earning your Master’s of Social Work is an important first step. In an MSW program, students are equipped with interpersonal and professional skills that enable them to work in a variety of different unique placements that help transform individuals, agencies, and communities.

Explore Baylor University’s digital resource page: How and Why You Should  Switch to a Career in Social Work!

5 Nontraditional Career Options

While some of the more mainstream social work professions, like a therapist or CPS case officer, are what come to mind when exploring your career options, other “out of the box” social work careers exist. The options are almost endless, but here are five nontraditional careers in social work to consider:

1. Animal-Assisted Social Worker

Animal-assisted social work positions involve the therapeutic exploration of using animals to help humans recover from physical, emotional, or phycological trauma or harm, and combines this practice with advocacy for animal welfare and ethics.

2. Attorney

With an interest in law and legal advocacy, many social workers may decide to serve as attorneys for children within the foster care system, family law, and human rights advocacy. Becoming a licensed attorney will require more schooling beyond an MSW, but having a social work foundation will help these professionals to always keep the best interests of their clients at the forefront of their practice.

3. Entrepreneur

The Garland School of Social Work offers an MSW/MBA joint degree. This program helps individuals who are interested in learning the technical business elements necessary for running their own non-profit, or for helping an agency apply innovative human resource strategies to their organization.

Pro-tip: If you want to learn more about the intersection of social work and business read this post — An MSW Is the Entrepreneurial Business Degree of the Future - Here’s Why.

4. Agricultural Economist

In combination with other agricultural strategists, social workers focus on agricultural economics to help create strategies and implement plans to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture and community development.

5. Corporate Consultant and Policy Analyst

Housed within the Garland School of Social work is a unique initiative targeting food desserts and hunger awareness in the community and beyond — the Texas Hunger Initiative. This program exists to end food insecurity in Texas and promote awareness of the issue throughout the state. This unique career option embraces the heart of social work, which is responding to critical social issues that threaten vulnerable populations, with the goal of improving the quality of life for everyone through changes in public policy.

How an MSW Sets You Apart

If you are interested in pursuing one of these social work careers, or any social work position, a master’s in social work opens up more professional doors than a bachelor's degree alone. An MSW will help equip students for a more specialized form of practice, allowing students to move beyond generalist practice and into specializations and concentrations that focus on their specific area of interest.

Additionally, field internship placements provide students with stronger skills and hands-on experience. Students have access to social work internship options in a variety of local settings. These include more mainstream agencies such as Child and Protective Services (CPS), clinical social work at Providence and Hillcrest Hospital, and working with addiction recovery services in a faith-based setting with Grace House and Mercy House through Antioch Community Church. There are also several nontraditional field placement options available to students who are looking to practice in a unique setting.

MSW graduates from the Garland School of Social Work regularly earn high scores on competency and licensure exams and possess a specialized skill set that sets them apart from BSW job applicants. Therefore, MSW students are more likely to have a deep set of practice tools and skills in their area of interest which affords them higher paying jobs in the field.

Get Started Today

If you are passionate about helping others and bettering the lives of individuals and communities, start by investing in your education. With the training, knowledge base, and skill set a Master of Social Work provides, you will be prepared to meaningfully contribute to any social work career of your choosing. Contact us today to get started!

Looking to switch into a career in social work? Find out how by exploring our digital resource guide — How and Why You Should Switch to a Career in Social Work.

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Posted by Ambree Meek, Najeeah Smith, Amalia Fuentes

Ambree is a current BSW student graduating with her bachelors in May 2019 and her MSW in May 2020. She is passionate about congregational social work and incorporating her Christian faith into social work practice. She hopes to work with youth and families in the future through a congregational or community setting.

Najeeah is an MSW candidate graduating in May 2020. She is passionate about achieving economic equality for impoverished individuals and families. She hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and establish her own private practice.

Amalia is an MSW candidate graduating in May 2020. She is passionate about advocating for first-generation students to have equal access to higher education. She hopes to receive her LMSW and work in Austin in a nonprofit or hospital setting for a few years, then obtain her LCSW and one day have her own private practice.

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