School Social Worker: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a school social worker. Get a quick view of the degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

School social workers address the psychological and social well-being of students, ranging from elementary school to university students. They provide information and counseling and help students, parents and school staff work together to solve problems by communicating and providing referrals to other resources. Requirements for this position vary by state, but most employers prefer that candidates have a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, as well as the necessary licensure or certification for that particular state.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in social work
Other Requirements Licensure or certification for social work (varies by state)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 15% (child, family and school social workers)*
Mean Annual Salary (2013) $46,060 (child, family and school social workers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

Social workers are employed or contracted by school districts or other educational institutions to help students cope with personal and psychological issues that affect their school performance, behavior and socialization. Through one-on-one, classroom or school-wide sessions, school social workers address issues relevant to the student population they serve, such as school attendance, illegal drug or alcohol dangers, teen pregnancy and adjustment to the social setting of the school. They also might assist teachers and administrators in dealing with behavioral or attitude issues by communicating with students to find the causes of their distress.

When appropriate or necessary, school social workers might provide information for outside support services or agencies to help students deal with economic, emotional or physical challenges. School social workers sometimes focus on particular groups of students, such as those with disabilities or at-risk groups.

Job Duties

Because they are tasked with helping students function effectively in a school environment, school social workers interact with students to assess the areas in which they might need counseling or assistance. Communicating with parents, teachers and administrators is essential to provide a full view of the issues facing an individual student, group or entire district.

School social workers also maintain case files and reports to track student problems and progress and to recognize patterns in behavior. Once issues or behavior problems have been identified, school social workers assist in remediation by providing counseling, treatment plans or workshops. At the university level, school social workers often have faculty positions and counseling responsibilities.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers who assisted children, families and schools averaged $46,060 per year in salary in May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The bureau also notes that most of these professionals earned between $27,420 and $72,350 per year. Those employed in New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island earned the highest among all states, with salaries of $62,380, $61,800 and $60,170, respectively.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics