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What is Social Work?

Social Work is a profession dedicated to helping people in a social context. It is unique and challenging because of the complexity of human behavior and because of the continuing and varied needs of individuals and populations. As professionals educated in a body of specialized knowledge and skills, social workers are committed in their efforts to develop and maintain the highest standards of social work and to help people realize a better life. The social work profession is set apart from other human-related disciplines by its "person-in-environment" focus. This means that social workers have a dual orientation at all times - the individual and the environment.

The profession of social work has a set of core values that guide our work with all people. While these values may be expressed a little differently by different people, they all share the same basic principles. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) identifies and defines six core values as follows:

Social work faculty and students and Texas Tech University adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics.

Professional social workers work in a great variety of different practice settings. Some of these include the broad areas of health, politics and policy, child welfare, school social work, mental health, aging, addictions, disabilities, justice and corrections, advocacy and community organization, homelessness, and many, many others. Social workers work for both public and private organizations.

Choosing a career in social work does not mean that you are taking a vow of poverty. While most social workers choose the profession for its intrinsic rewards, financial benefits also exist. According to a survey conducted by NASW in 2002, the median salary of NASW members working full-time was $49,500. Only 6% reported earning less than $30,000 per year and 11% reported making more htan $80,000.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the social work profession is expected to grow by 25% between 2010 and 2020, this is a faster rate than the average rate for all occupations. Several areas of social work are expected to see most of the growth inculding "aging, criminal justice, services for veterans and military personnel and health" (NASW News, June 2012, Volume 57, Number 6).

To further explore the social work profession, you may find the following links helpful.

Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy

The New Social Worker

National Association of Social Workers

Council on Social Work Education

International Federal of Social Workers

Social Welfare Action Alliance

Latino Social Workers Organization

National Association of Black Social Workers

National Organization of Forensic Social Work

Association of Oncology Social Work

Social Work Access Network

Society for Social Work and Research