Social Work Jobs in the Army

by Ashley Miller

Social workers play important roles in serving the armed forces and their country. Army social workers perform a variety of functions, including research, supervision, administration and counseling, that ultimately serve to help servicemen and women cope and deal with the stress of Army life. According to the Partnership for Public Service, Army social workers are employed around the world and throughout the nation. The salary for Army social workers can range from $50,287 to $123,334 per year.

What They Do

The Army employs civilian and military social workers in medical, clinical, research and administrative capacities. Clinical and medical social workers provide behavioral health services like assessment, crisis intervention, counseling and psychotherapy to Army officers and their families in the areas such as substance abuse, mental health, adjustment issues and relationship problems. They also may hold supervisory roles, such as clinical director or chief of social work service. They work in hospitals, on the battlefield and in treatment programs. Administrative and research social workers are engaged in professional research and policy development related to mental health and other relevant topics. They develop policies and conduct research at various Army research institutes. Army social workers may be active duty or reserve officers -- meaning they are employed part-time while also working in civilian settings.


Army social workers must have at least a master's degree in social work, or MSW, from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Some social workers also hold the DSW, or doctor of social work, or Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy in social work. The master's degree program is usually a two-year program of study if completed on a full-time basis. Army social workers also must hold a state license to practice. The requirements for licensure vary by state but generally include passing an examination and submitting proof of education and experience.

Educational Opportunities

The Army offers a variety of educational opportunities to its employees. In 2008, Fayetteville State University partnered with the Army to offer an accelerated MSW degree program to Army officers, enlisted soldiers and Army civilians. Additionally, active Army doctoral-level social workers may apply for an advanced clinical fellowship through the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Army social workers who wish to obtain a Ph.D. in social work may also apply for the chance to attend any public or private university of their choice while receiving duty pay. (see ref. 2)

Additional Requirements

Army social workers must be between the ages of 21 and 42, although it may be possible to request a waiver. They must be current U.S. citizens; permanent U.S. residency is required for social workers who are also reserve duty officers. Army social workers must undergo regular training and participate in seminars on a periodic basis. They also are eligible to participate in a variety of military and civilian-related social work continuing education courses and webinars on a duty -- or paid -- status.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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