Will Alabama have enough social workers?

Will Alabama have enough social workers?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - When you think about social work, what comes to mind? Long hours, low pay, and hazardous conditions?

UAB’s Director of Field Education for its social work program knows her field is fighting that stigma.

“While it’s true we may not have the highest salaries, we don’t work for free,” says Maryjacque Carroll. “But I know students are concerned about paying back student loans and being able to live comfortably.”

A new Bureau of Labor Statistics report predicts social work will be one of the fastest growing fields in the next decade, but convincing college students to choose it as their major will require hard work.

“We will need more going forward,” Carroll admits.

UAB is recruiting students to its masters program from other majors like sociology and pyschology, and widening that focus helped them increase the number of students by 25-30 percent in the last three years. Part of that increase comes from highlighting all of the different fields where social workers can help, including the one projected to grow the fastest: healthcare.

“You’re not going to be bored, and if you work in a certain setting with a certain population, and you decide this may not be the best fit for you, there are a lot of other options out there,” Carroll says. “You will always be in demand there will always be a job for you, yes.”

In fact, an Alabama Department of Labor study shows healthcare and social assistance is the second most popular career in Alabama right now.

Healthcare and Social Assistance are the 2nd-most popular job in Alabama. Source: AL Dept. of Labor
Healthcare and Social Assistance are the 2nd-most popular job in Alabama. Source: AL Dept. of Labor (Source: WBRC-TV)

A projection of the most in-demand jobs in our state over the next 10 years shows healthcare and social assistance at or near the top.

“I believe we will find a way to solve this crisis because in social work. We believe in the importance of human relationships and we understand the importance of working together to solve a problem,” Carroll insists.

Here is the new Department of Labor outlook for social workers and how much you can expect to make.

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