Family Social Workers: Job Duties and Employment Outlook
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Home > Articles > Family Social Workers Improve the Lives of Children, Parents, and Grandparents

Family Social Workers Improve the Lives of Children, Parents, and Grandparents

By Jane Greer
Published on December 7, 2009.

Job Duties

Family social workers provide a variety of social services for families and children. As a family social worker, you might work in a private or government social service agency or a school system. Family social workers can choose to work in a number of different fields.

  • Some family social workers arrange adoptions or find foster homes for children. Others work with single parents or families.
  • Family social workers known as child welfare workers help families where abuse takes place. They also work in the school system with pregnant, misbehaving, or truant children, advising teachers and administrators about the most effective way to help a particular child.
  • Family social workers known as gerontology social workers create support groups for caregivers of elderly people and advise senior citizens about housing, transportation, medical issues, and long-term care.
  • Family social workers known as occupational social workers offer vocational support and encouragement to employees experiencing job-related stress.

Job Skills

To be a family social worker, you'll need to be trustworthy, stable, and mature to deal calmly and responsibly with people and families in crisis. You should be able to work independently or as a team member, and to get along with a variety of people.


There are three levels of social work education: the bachelor's degree in social work (BSW), the master's degree (MSW), and the doctorate (DSW or PhD). Those who want to begin a career as a social worker can find a degree program through local education or online degree schools.

  • BSW. To be a family social worker, you'll need at least a BSW, which requires at least 400 hours of supervised fieldwork in addition to 4 years of classroom courses.
  • MSW. You'll need an MSW to work in health settings or to do clinical or private work. An MSW takes about 2 years of classes beyond your BSW and requires at least 900 hours of supervised internship.
  • DSW or PhD. To teach social work in a college or university, you'll need a DSW or PhD in social work. A DSW of PhD also allows you conduct research into problems or questions relating to family social work.

All states have license, certificate, or registration requirements, although requirements vary from state to state. As of 2006, there were 458 BSW and 181 MSW programs in the U.S. accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. There were also 74 doctoral programs accredited by the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, child, school, and family social workers held about 282,000 jobs in 2006.

Job Outlook

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of jobs for child, school, and family social workers is predicted to increase by 19 percent, which is higher than the average growth for all jobs. Your opportunities will be greatest in rural areas, where it's often difficult to attract and retain qualified social workers. Social workers who specialize in helping those with disabilities or want to work in public schools may have the best employment opportunities.

With the right education and certification, you can become a supervisor, manage a program, or direct a family social work agency or department.

About the Author
Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
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