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Social Worker

Odds of Getting In

Here's the short answer: The odds are way beyond good. In fact, social workers' employment was expected to jump by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020. Your odds will go up or down depending on your social work specialty.

Health care-based social workers will see the best prospects. Think about it: the United States population (for our purposes, that means the baby boomers) is getting older fast, which means they'll likely need more health care services, such as home care. Many boomers, and frequently their children, will seek health care social workers' help to navigate the increasingly complex maze of agencies and services.

On the other end of the spectrum, social workers who assist children and families are also expected to see better-than-average employment prospects. More social workers will be needed to oversee child abuse investigations, foster care placements, and possible adoptions. In addition, population increases will mean more kids in school, which means more demand for school-based social workers. Of course, budget constraints rear their ugly little heads here. To put it simply: If federal, state, or local governments don't appropriate the money for these positions, all the demand in the world won't create them.

Finally, note that social workers who handle substance abuse and mental health cases should see a whopping 30 percent employment growth. As the stigma around mental health and addiction issues continues to subside, more people seek professional treatment for these challenges. Social workers will also see increased numbers of drug offenders, who are more likely to be sent to treatment programs instead of jail.