A social worker helps an elderly woman put a puzzle together

7 Types of Social Workers

Social work is a professional and academic discipline that focuses on methods and practices that can improve the lives of individuals, families, and communities in tough circumstances. The social work field is in some ways very broad. If you’re thinking of becoming a social worker, you should understand that most social workers have a specialty. There are different types of social worker jobs available, so read through the different types and decide which type is the best career path for you.

Victim Advocate Social Worker

Victim advocates are social workers who specialize in guiding crime victims through the legal system and helping them to cope with emotional stress and trauma after a crime is committed. Victim advocates may work with a wide range of people who have suffered from child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, attempted murder, negligent homicide, assault, and battery.

School Social Worker

Public schools are often the first and only place where individuals are exposed to a diverse social community. Many public schools have a lot of socioeconomic and racial diversity, which can create social tensions when left unaddressed. School social workers are there to not only help guide students through these difficulties, but also to be there for students dealing with the pressures associated with education. School social workers also help students cope with familial issues.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker

Many people struggle with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia every day. Social workers help guide people with mental illnesses by providing therapy and referrals to medical services. They also help families to understand, accept, and cope with a family member’s mental illness. While mental illness and substance abuse are by no means the same, social workers do similar work for people who are struggling to overcome addiction.

Medical Social Worker

The medical field, like the legal system, can be complicated and confusing for many patients. Medical social workers help patients by helping them to navigate legal and financial systems, and they also help them cope with incorporating their illness or diagnosis into daily life. Medical social workers may also help patients and their families cope with terminal illnesses.

Public Health Social Worker

Public health social workers do their work on a community level rather than an individual level. Generally, public health issues are affected by social and physical environments. Public health social workers create programs and initiatives to improve the public health of communities. Many public health social workers work for nonprofits or city governments.

Family and Child Services Social Worker

When people think of social workers, they often think of family and child services social workers. The way a family functions affects children throughout their childhood and adult lives. Family and child services social workers work with families on a variety of problems to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of the child. Common problems to work with families on are financial issues, unhealthy relationships, domestic abuse, mental illness, medical issues, and economic stress.

Military Services and Veterans Social Worker

Military duty can be a stressful and traumatic experience for individuals. Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. Additionally, many families of veterans struggle with role adjustment and personality differences when a family member in the military returns home. Social workers help veterans and their families cope and navigate stressors that occur due to military duty. 

Last Updated: July 28, 2015