School Social Worker

What is School Social Work?

School social workers serve students, families, schools, and communities. These specialized social workers provide evidence-based mental health, behavioral, social and emotional services and interventions to foster positive academic and behavioral outcomes. Their ultimate goal is to empower students to reach their full potential, and to ensure that schools foster a safe and positive environment for students.

School social workers differ from school psychologists and counselors in their approach by focusing on family and social factors that may impact a student’s academic experience and outcomes.

The role of a school social worker may involve diverse tasks such as accessing resources for students who require additional support, providing direct services for families, students and administrators, offering one-on-one or group counseling sessions, and making home visits. School social workers also often coordinate school programs for peer counseling and mentoring. They additionally may provide staff and parent-training opportunities, contribute to school policy development, and develop crisis intervention strategies.

Many of the issues addressed by school social workers are unique to educational settings, such as school attendance, bullying, school violence, and support for students with multiple learning problems or risk factors. Other issues, such as substance abuse and teen pregnancy, are also found in the community at large.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
School Program Description
University of Denver
  • Research-driven faculty dedicated to making an impact on social problems
  • Prepares you to apply social work skills across practice settings
Fordham University
  • Four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy
Simmons University
  • Four Clinical Specializations: Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health and Aging
  • Three program tracks: Traditional, Accelerated, and Extended
Case Western Reserve University
  • From Case Western Reserve University’s top-10 ranked School of social work
  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks available
University of Southern California (USC)
  • Offered by USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, a top-ranked graduate School by U.S. News and World Report
  • Features virtual and in-person field education in or near student's own communities
Baylor University
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Specialize in clinical practice or community practice

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs


School Social Worker Jobs

The employment prospects for school social workers are bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that an additional 45,000 jobs for school social workers will become available between 2016 and 2026. This represents the largest source of growth within the field of social work, and is driven in part by rising student enrolments.

As of September 2019, the annual median pay for a child, family, and school social worker was $46,270.

Become a School Social Worker

Careers in social work require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Twenty-three percent of school social worker positions require the employee to hold a license, and 21 % of positions require a minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited school of social work along with completion of a relevant practicum, internship or supervised field experience. You can learn more about school social workers, and necessary licenses and certification from the School Social Work Association of America.

Some universities now provide a concentration in school social work as part of a two-year masters program. These concentrations build on general social work knowledge obtained in the first year of the program and include special courses in families, children and school settings.

Masters students typically also complete a required number of field experience hours in a local school. Certification programs in school social work are also available for holders of MSW degrees who are interested in continuing education opportunities.

Further Reading