Associate Degree in Social Work

associate degree in social work

Are you looking to make a difference in the world and help others? Earning an associate degree in social work could provide you with the educational foundation for working in this vital field. With the proper education, skills, and training, you can enter professional positions that allow for meaningful human contact, problem-solving, and service to those needing it most. This rewarding degree provides stable career paths with room for growth from hospitals to community centers. This article explores the primary information about AWS that you must know to make an informed decision about this career path.

What is an ASW?

An Associate Social Worker (ASW) is an entry-level position in social work practice. To be an ASW, you must pursue a two-year degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited institution.

Other than education qualification, an ASW needs the necessary skills, such as strong communication, organizational, time management, interpersonal and problem-solving skills, among others, to succeed in this career. These skills help the ASW to perform their duties effectively and efficiently.

Moreover, when employed as an Associate Social Worker (ASW), you will be required to work under the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Supervision helps the ASW to gain more experience and build their knowledge base before they can begin working independently.

What Can You Do with an Associate Degree in Social Work?

Are you wondering what you can do with the AWS? With this degree, you can pursue a variety of career paths. Whether looking for a career in social services, healthcare, education, or even business administration, an AWS can open new opportunities.


You can work as a health aide with an associate degree in the social sciences. Some of your roles could be to provide direct care and support for patients who are sick, injured, or suffering from mental illness. You can also offer educational resources for families on preventive health practices and how to access community services. As a health aide, you may have the opportunity to work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, outpatient clinics, private practices, and other settings.

Social work aide

You can also work as a social work aide in various settings, such as schools, hospitals, or government agencies. In this role, you’ll help individuals and families with their emotional and social needs by providing case management services. You may be responsible for conducting assessments of client’s needs and challenges, helping to develop service plans, connecting persons in need with community resources and services, monitoring progress, providing counseling and support, and advocating on their behalf.

Social service assistant

You could work as a social service assistant. As an assistant, you will support your supervisor and colleagues in various organizations such as schools, hospitals, non-profits, or government agencies. Your primary roles may include collecting data from clients, providing administrative assistance such as filing paperwork or scheduling appointments, maintaining databases and files of client information, and helping develop client programs and services.


Finally, you can engage in advocacy work. In this role, you will help ensure that individuals or groups are given their rights and access to the resources they need for success. You may go out in the field to research social issues, attend public meetings and hearings, write reports, speak at events, provide resources to vulnerable populations, create partnerships between organizations and groups in the community, or participate in legislative activities.

Can You Become a Social Worker with an ASW?

Have you ever wondered if becoming a Social Worker with an associate degree in social work is possible? By exploring the potential pathways and opportunities available to you, it may be possible for you to achieve your dream goal.

You can become a social worker with an ASW if the ASW is your first step. The qualifications and requirements for becoming a social worker may differ depending on your state. Most states will require that you have either a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or a Master of Social Work (MSW) to be licensed. However, an ASW is excellent to jumpstart your career.

This is because only a foundational knowledge of social work is obtained with an ASW. Having a BSW or MSW will give you greater credibility and a much broader range of career opportunities in social work. It also allows you to fill multiple professional roles, such as direct practice, case management, administration, advocacy, and research.

Depending on your state’s regulations, if you have an ASW degree but no BSW or MSW, you may be able to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Social Work Examination. The exam aims to test a person’s knowledge of the content they will need to succeed in their practice as a social worker.

Curriculum in an ASW

A curriculum for an associate degree in social work aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to become successful practitioners. While some schools may vary in course offerings, many ASW programs require around 60 credits to complete an ASW coursework. As such, here is an overview of the courses you can expect to take during an ASW program.

Introduction to Sociology

You will learn about the foundations of sociology, including how individuals interact in groups and communities. You’ll explore culture, socialization, prejudice, racism, and other social issues.

Social Problems

In this course, you will gain an understanding of various social problems that affect society today. This includes poverty, violence, crime, drugs, and homelessness. You’ll also learn how to analyze these issues from a sociological perspective.

Ethics for Social Services

You will be introduced to the ethical principles of social work and gain an understanding of the professional values social workers must uphold when providing services. You’ll explore boundaries, confidentiality, ethical decision-making, and how to handle difficult situations.

Social Welfare

This course provides an overview of the United States’ social welfare policies and programs. You will learn about the history of the welfare system, current programs available for those in need, and other related matters.

Introduction to Social Work

An introduction to the social work profession and the role of a social worker will be done. You will explore social workers’ values, roles, and responsibilities. In addition, you’ll learn about best practices for working with clients in various settings.


Understand the behavior of those charged with a crime and how to assess and treat them using evidence-based methods. You’ll explore topics such as the criminal justice system, psychological theories of crime, criminal rehabilitation approaches, and other related matters.

Introduction to Psychology

Know the basic psychology principles, including motivation, emotion, learning, memory, and perception. You’ll gain an understanding of how these concepts affect social interactions and behavior.

Group Intervention Techniques

Learn about the theories behind group counseling and how to facilitate one effectively. You will explore topics such as stages of group development, dynamics within a group, ethics in group work, and other related matters.

Family Intervention Strategies

This course provides an overview of the different approaches to family intervention strategies often used in social work practice. You will learn about topics such as communication patterns, family dynamics, and family conflict resolution.

Statistics in Psychology

Finally, statistics psychology will enable you to understand how to collect and analyze data in psychology. You’ll explore descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, correlation, probability, and other statistical methods.

Salary and Job Outlook for People with an ASW

Holding an associate degree in social work promises a better future for many. Along with the opportunity to help others, possessing such a degree could be your ticket to improved earning potential and career prospects. To give you a clearer insight into how you can benefit from an ASW, it’s vital to explore what salary and job outlook you might expect with this qualification.


The job and geographic location have an impact on the ASW’s pay. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 2021 the median annual salary for social and human services assistants was $37,610. The lowest 10% of earners took home less than $27,910, while the top 10% took in more than $59,490.

Apart from education and hospitals, local government has the highest salary for those with an associate degree in social work, according to the BLS, at $46,950. Individual and family services pay a median annual income of 37,370, while state government organizations pay a median yearly wage of $37,610. Nursing and residential care institutions pay $34,030, while community and vocational rehabilitation programs cost $36,160.

In addition, the BLS reported that the median annual pay for home health and personal care aides was $29,430 in May 2021. The bottom 10% made less than $22,290, while the top 10% made more than $37,010.

Depending on the duties you take on, home health and personal care assistant salaries might change. For instance, according to BLS data, the typical annual wage for people employed in individual and family services was $29,670. The median annual wage for aides working in residential institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities was $29,230, compared to $29,140 for those working in continuing-care retirement homes and senior assisted living facilities. The median annual pay for home healthcare services was 28,630

In addition, the BLS said that those who chose to use their ASW degree to work as social and human service assistants made a median annual salary of $37,610. The lowest 10% of earners took home less than $27,910, while the top 10% took in more than $59,490.

The best-paying sectors for social and human service assistants are local government (excluding education and hospitals), which pays a median annual wage of $46,950, state government (excluding education and hospitals), which pays a median yearly salary of 37,610, individual and family services, which pays a median annual wage of %37,370, and community and vocational rehabilitation services, which pays a median yearly salary of %36,160.

Job Outlook

Associate degree in social work holders have a generally favorable perspective on the job market, which is expected to expand by 12% between 2021 and 2031 for social and human services assistants. Moreover, there should be around 55,900 opportunities annually in the next ten years.

The job forecast for home health and personal care attendants is even better, with a predicted rise of 25% from 2021 to 2031. Over the next ten years, there will be around 711,700 positions yearly.

Additionally, most states have a favorable career outlook for assistants in social and human services. Between 2021 and 2031, employment is anticipated to increase by an average of 12 percent, with an annual average of around 55,900 positions.

With an anticipated rise of 11% from 2021 to 2031, the career envision is much better if you choose to enhance your ASW to become a licensed social worker. Over the next ten years, social worker employment is anticipated to increase by 9%, with an average of 74,700 opportunities yearly.

Additionally, with a typical annual salary of $50,390 for social workers in May 2021, earning potential is significantly better. Note that the lowest 10% of social workers earned less than $36,520, while the wealthiest 10% made more than $82,840.

Next Steps

Ultimately, an associate degree in social work allows you to pursue a social and human services career. You can expect excellent job prospects and a competitive salary for professionals with this qualification. You can look forward to a long, rewarding career with many opportunities to advance your capabilities. Remember that your salary depends on your area of expertise, your job responsibilities, and the employment industry.