Social work is undeniably difficult, and considering the abysmally low pay and unending working hours, it should be no surprise that so many social workers abandon their posts for higher-paying, less-stressful careers in other fields. Fortunately, because social workers claim a diverse set of skills – from deep training in psychology and sociology to inherent personality traits like organization and empathy – social workers can easily transition into more rewarding positions in business.

Whether you entered the social work fray after undergrad or are interested in pursuing a master’s degree in social work online, you should rest easy knowing that there is more than one career available to someone with your credentials. Here are a few widely available, business-related positions that utilize skills gained through social work education:

Human Resources

Human resources, also variously called people operations, human capital management, people experience, talent management and employee success departments, assumes much of the responsibility for maintaining satisfaction and productivity amongst the workforce. HR professionals are often responsible for recruiting new talent, managing payroll and benefits, providing counseling and conflict resolution and directing administrative functions across an organization.

To accomplish these diverse and complex tasks, HR professionals must boast outstanding communication and organizational skills. Additionally, it is beneficial for HR workers to have compassion for their peers, so they can adequately address their needs. Fortunately, social workers have all these qualities in spades.

Professional Development

Usually, professional development experts work closely with – or inside – human resources departments. This field is responsible for training new employees or preparing workers for new, perhaps more advanced tasks. Sometimes, professional development teams will arrange in-office speakers and seminars available to entire workforces; sometimes, they will help individual employees attain enrollment in specific degree programs with company resources. Often, only large businesses have dedicated professional development teams, but there are also professional development firms or departments within PEOs and similar organizations.

Social workers with a history in professional development are best suited to this role because they have experience connecting people with the resources they need to excel in their careers. However, if you participated in another type of social work, you will likely find this career personally fulfilling and challenging.


Managers work to coordinate company efforts, ensuring that every employee is doing their part to contribute to overall success. Management comes in all shapes, colors and sizes; these professionals can oversee small teams on special projects or mastermind largescale works that require years to come to fruition.

Managers are the best, and upper-level management is the best of the best. Social workers already claim the communication, organization, motivation and decision-making skills necessary for effective management. You might consider returning to school for an advanced degree in business administration to better grasp hard skills like accounting and catapult yourself into leadership positions during the job hunt.

Labor Relations

Labor relations is complex field that navigates the ever-changing relationships amongst workers, businesses and the government. Often, professionals in this career link management, unions and individual employees, facilitating bargaining agreements and verifying that situations are fair and legal. Labor relations workers also work to reduce tensions, avoid strikes and similar disruptions and sometimes function in human resources roles, providing counseling and resolving employee concerns.

Labor relations is a natural transition for many social workers, who are accustomed to walking the line between individual and shared benefit. If you are particularly fascinated by labor law or else claim specializations in dispute resolution, you will find positions in labor relations ideal.


According to Forbes, more than half a million new businesses launch every month – why can’t you form one of them? Entrepreneurship is incredibly rewarding, providing a sense of accomplishment and authority difficult to obtain in traditional employment. Though starting a business can be risky, success as a small business owner promises wealth, power and the opportunity to follow your passion.

As a social worker, you are uniquely qualified to build a business that benefits more than just you. Already established are your organization and communication skills, but your experience with long working hours and your tireless attitude will also boost an entrepreneurial career. Likely, in your previous line of work, you recognized needs that are not being addressed, and you can develop a product or service that fills those needs, helping certain groups while providing you with a flexible, fulfilling career.