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School Social Work as a career

The history of school social work can be traced to the early 1900s. Building on this long tradition of service, the School Social Work Association of America was formed as a national organization of School Social Workers dedicated to the promotion of the profession. The best school social work services are provided by School Social Workers employed by local education agencies. Those agencies include local school districts, regional school agencies and special education agencies.

Role & Function

School Social Workers provide a vital link among the school, home and community. Most School Social Workers are involved in providing services to all students. Most provide direct services to students and their families including casework, group work and classroom presentations as well as providing crisis intervention and consultation and making referrals to community agencies. School Social Workers are part of the assessment process for special education students as well as often providing direct and indirect services to those students. School Social Workers consult with teachers and administrators and frequently participate on teams within the schools.

Certification and Regulation

The regulation of school social work is a state educational issue. Certification requirements are developed by each state and vary accordingly. S.S.W.A.A. maintains a directory of state information.

Educational Requirements

The majority of School Social Workers hold a master's Degree in Social Work, which is the prescribed entry level in most states. Some states, however, do allow entry level at the bachelor's level.


Salary ranges from $25,000 to $90,000 depending on educational level and years of experience. Many School Social Workers work the traditional school year. Others work additional weeks,months or year-round. Many are paid according to the teachers salary schedule. Tenure is offered to many School Social Workers.


Many states have reciprocal agreements regarding the transfer of certification from one state to another. Specific information can be obtained from each state educational agency. S.S.W.A.A. can furnish the address for each state educational agency.


School social work is currently growing in many states. Funding for school social work positions can be tied to federal dollars and federal mandates. Any changes at the federal level could affect school social work positions. Changes in state funding could also affect school social work positions. The Midwestern portion of the country is currently the strongest area for school social work, but many other states across the country have strong programs. Within states, the level of services provided from school to school varies. A few states make very limited use of school social workers.



Membership in the School Social Work Association of America is open to all school social workers. The membership fee is $120 and student membership is $30. Over half the states have state school social work associations. SSWAA maintains a list of state associations and contact information for those associations on the web site



School Social Work Journal
P O Box 634
Algonquin, IL 60102

Journal of School Social Work (Archive Only)
Univ. of Northern Iowa
Dept. of Social Work
Cedar Falls IA 50614

Children & Schools
750 1st St. NE Suite 700
Washington, DC 20002



A SSWAA School Social Work National Conference is held each spring. Monitor the SSWAA web site for information.

School Social Work Association of America. (1999, April 1, 2003). School social work as a career. © This copyrighted document can be reproduced as long as credit is given to S.S.W.A.A.

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