Job Outlook for Social Workers

The 2015-16 Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026 , adding more than 109,000 new social work jobs. This is faster growth than the 7 percent increase in total employment anticipated by the report.

Some social work specialties are projected to grow even faster. According to BLS predictions, employment of healthcare social workers and mental health and substance abuse social workers will grow 20 and 19 percent, respectively, in the same time period (plus 35,400 jobs and plus 23,900 jobs, respectively).

Projected New Social Work Jobs by 2026

The OOH notes that one factor behind the expected increase in demand for mental health and substance abuse social workers is a shift in policy toward sending drug offenders to treatment programs staffed by social workers instead of sending them to jail.