Macro Social Work Careers: 2023 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary

Many communities across the globe are far from becoming the safe spaces modern society intends them to be. While many social norms have changed, crime, abuse, and injustice are still prevalent within these spheres. In the United States, the crime index is at 47.7, meaning over 47 crimes occur per 100,000 people (World Population Review, 2023), which is high. To make matters worse, gun violence is on the rise, and concerns like poverty, workplace abuse, and substance abuse continue to prevail.

This underscores the need for macro social work. Macro social workers engage in policy research, lobbying, program development, and community organizing to help solve systemic problems, advance social justice, and bring about long-lasting change in societies and communities. Upon finishing a college degree in social work, aspirants can become professional social workers and explore a wide range of career options.

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This article explores the various career paths of macro social workers, including details on social work degrees and courses. Our team of researchers has compiled the macro social work jobs per path, along with their corresponding mean or median salaries, as well as the academic journeys to advance one’s career.

Macro Social Work Table of Contents

  1. Why pursue a career in macro social work?
  2. Macro Social Worker Career Outlook
  3. Required Skills for Macro Social Work
  4. How to Start Your Career in Macro Social Work
  5. How can I advance my career in macro social work?
  6. Alternative Career Options for Macro Social Work

Why pursue a career in macro social work?

Macro social work allows one to work on a larger scale and have a greater influence. As such, macro social workers can help create long-term social change by addressing systemic challenges and pushing for policy changes that benefit entire communities and populations. And these initiatives have largely worked in U.S. communities. According to the National Association of Social Workers (2023), 81% of Americans who received help from social workers say that their situations improved.

Macro social workers work closely with government units and concerned organizations as they play an important role in developing policies and initiatives to address social concerns. They have the potential to influence legislation, advocate for policy changes, and participate in the development and implementation of programs that benefit communities in need of assistance and interventions.

Macro-level intervention samples include policy, community organizing, applying system theory in social work, community research and analysis, social program development and evaluation, strategic planning, coalition building, leadership and capacity building, and systems analysis and plan execution. These enable macro social workers to promote equity and social justice, allowing them to challenge oppressive systems and policies and uplift the welfare of marginalized communities.

In terms of personal growth, a career in macro social work leads aspirants to work in different settings and empowers them to develop multiple skills that go beyond the limits of their job titles. This means professionals will not have too much trouble advancing or shifting careers, given their competencies. Moreover, there will always be a demand for macro social workers since communities worldwide perpetually deal with numerous concerns.

81% - Percentage of Americans who say their situations improved after receiving help from social workers

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Macro Social Worker Career Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a projected 9% employment growth for all types of social workers, including those in macro social work, from 2021 to 2031 (BLS, 2022). This is slightly higher than the average for all occupations in the U.S., which is at 5%, underscoring the high demand for social services in this day and age.

After all, macro level social work is diverse and touches on a wide variety of challenges and concerns. Macro level intervention examples include systems change, community organization, policy advocacy, and program development. Each of these initiatives calls for various skills and jobs that social workers can undertake. Moreover, social workers can be professionals in other fields, leading to more career opportunities for them. And some of these professions have even higher demand than social work.

RoleMedian SalaryProjected Job Growth (2021-2031)
Social and Community Service Manager$74,00012%
School and Career Counselor$60,51010%
Probation Officer$60,2500%
Social Worker$50,3909%
Marriage and Family Therapist$49,88014%
Community Health Worker$48,86012%
Behavioral Disorder Counselor$48,52022%
Rehabilitation Counselor$38,56011%
Social and Human Service Assistant$37,61012%

Source: BLS, 2022

Required Skills for Macro Social Work

What is social work but accumulating diverse competencies. So, what is macro social work in terms of skillset? According to Zippia (2022), the most common skills on the resumes of social workers are social work (30.1%), patients (14.8%), patient care (5%), MSW (4.4%), discharge planning (4.3%), home health (4.1%), and crisis intervention (4.1%).

Similar to forensic psychology requirements, the actual skills that will be used for the job are composed of a set of essential skills that are crucial for the tasks at hand, combined with soft skills that help with communications, collaborations, analysis, and program planning.

Essential Skills for Macro Social Work

  • Policy Analysis. Macro social workers must be skilled in policy analysis to comprehend and assess the influence of policies on communities and populations. This includes evaluating policy objectives, examining laws, and identifying potential gaps or places for improvement.
  • Community Advocacy. For macro social workers, effective advocacy abilities are essential. They must be able to explain their points of view, engage in persuasive communication, and advocate for social justice and policy reforms with a variety of stakeholders, including legislators, community members, and organizational leaders.
  • Community Organization. Macro social workers aim to empower communities and promote collective action through community organizing. Building relationships, managing group processes, conducting community assessments, and encouraging community engagement are all required abilities.
  • Project Planning. Macro social workers must be able to think strategically and plan effectively in order to conduct effective interventions and solve systemic challenges. Assessing the larger context, creating goals, building action plans, and discovering resources and partnerships to create social change are all part of this process.
  • Cultural Competence. To operate effectively with varied people and communities, macro social workers must be culturally competent. They should be able to integrate cultural issues into their work and understand and appreciate other cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions.

General Skills for Macro Social Work

  • Critical Thinking. Macrosocial workers must be able to assess complex social problems, comprehend the underlying causes of these issues, and think critically about policy and institutional remedies. They must have a thorough understanding of social, political, and economic systems, as well as the ability to analyze data, research, and other information in order to make sound judgments.
  • Leadership Skills. To excel at the macro level, macro social workers must have notable leadership and management abilities. They must be able to create and implement strategies, lead teams, allocate resources, and effectively manage initiatives. They must also possess strong organizational and project management abilities.
  • Communication Skills. Macro social workers must have strong communication skills. They must be able to convey complicated concepts and policy proposals to a diverse group of people, including politicians, community members, stakeholders, and colleagues. They must also be able to effectively interact with diverse groups and negotiate disagreements.
  • Collaboration Skills. Macro social workers frequently collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including lawmakers, community leaders, advocacy groups, and service providers. They must have good teamwork and networking abilities in order to develop contacts, facilitate partnerships, and leverage resources to address social concerns.
  • Ethical Practice. Macro social workers must follow ethical and professional guidelines in their work. They must have a thorough awareness of social work values, ethics, and beliefs, as well as a strong commitment to upholding them. They must also be able to practice honesty at all times, keep confidential information, and prevent conflicts of interest.

Source: Zippia, 2022

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How to Start Your Career in Macro Social Work

Before aspirants can become macro social workers, they have to accomplish the job’s requisite education, a similar process for those who ask, “How do I become a counselor?” They need to learn and hone their skills on the typical social work research topics in a postsecondary institution. In the course of their studies, they are also expected to know about the different macro level social work examples and their vast array of applications to holistically uplift marginalized communities.

In many cases, macro social workers need to obtain at least an associate’s degree to gain access to a lot of entry-level employment opportunities. As for the required college major, data from Zippia (2023) shows that 51% of social workers have a social work degree, 15% are psychology majors, 6% earned a degree in sociology, and 4% are criminology majors.

Moreover, when picking an on-ground or online advanced degree for social work, learners are advised to opt for one that explicitly centers on the macro-level aspect of social work. In a 2021 study published in the International Social Work journal, it was found that “a number of significant knowledge and skills gaps between the training provided in MSW programs across North America and that expected by international social work employers. Most notably, knowledge and skills related to macro practice were both sorely missing and highly valued for international work. As a result, the unique social work lens which prioritizes reflexivity and social justice was rendered invisible by prospective employers who instead thought of social work as a largely micro-based profession” (Kim, Sussman, Khan, & Kahn, 2021). Reading through the fine print before deciding to enroll matters.

What Jobs Can Macro Social Workers Get?

Macro Social Work Path
Policy Analysis Path
Program Development Path
The practice of addressing social issues and creating systemic change at a broader levelThe process of examining and evaluating the impact and effectiveness of policies on the well-being of a communityDesigning and implementing initiatives to address the needs and enhance the quality of life within a specific community
Entry Level JobsSocial and Human Service Assistant
Case Manager Assistant
Community Outreach Worker
Junior Management JobsMacro Social Worker
Policy Analyst
Program Development Specialist
Middle Management JobsSocial and Community Service Manager
Community Policy Manager
Social Service Program Manager
Senior Management JobsDirector of Social Work
Public Policy Director
Community Program Director
*Values are estimates and may vary per industry.

What can I do with an Associate’s Degree in Macro Social Work?

Case Manager Assistant

Case manager assistants assist case managers in social service agencies or organizations. They assist with administrative activities such as maintaining customer information, organizing appointments, and completing paperwork. Additionally, they may assist clients in gaining access to resources, communicating with service providers, and ensuring the proper coordination of services.

Median Salary: $49,545

Social and Human Service Assistant

Social and human service assistants aid social workers and other professionals in the field. They help customers gain access to resources and services, complete paperwork, and negotiate social service systems. They may also give basic counseling, assess client progress, and lead group activities or workshops.

Median Salary: $37,610

Community Outreach Worker

Community outreach workers connect members of the community with important resources and services. They actively engage with community members and groups to increase awareness, give information, and promote community projects or activities. To effectively address community needs, they may plan events, undertake outreach initiatives, and develop relationships with community stakeholders.

Median Salary: $46,982

What can I do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Macro Social Work?

Macro Social Worker

Macro social workers are concerned with addressing systemic challenges and bringing about positive change on a larger scale. They may advocate for legislative reforms, conduct research to inform social policies, plan and implement community programs, and collaborate with community organizations to improve social services. Their work strives to alleviate socioeconomic inequities, promote social justice, and increase community and population well-being.

Median Salary: $50,390

Policy Analyst

Policy analysts are tasked to investigate and assess social policies and their effects on individuals and communities. These professionals gather and analyze data, conduct research, and discover gaps in policy or areas for change. They also give recommendations and provide insights to legislators, organizations, and advocacy groups to help mold policy decisions and promote positive change in communities.

Median Salary: $63,802

Program Development Specialist

Program development specialists are in charge of creating, administering, and assessing programs that fulfill specific social needs or goals. They assess needs, investigate evidence-based techniques, and create program plans and strategies. They work with stakeholders to get financing and manage program implementation to ensure the program accomplishes its goals and effectively serves the target audience.

Average Salary: $64,651

Can you get a macro social worker job with just a certificate?

Although the opportunities are not as common with a bachelor’s degree or a Master’s in Social Work (MSW), there are macro social work jobs available. With a certificate, aspirants can drive advocacy in social work as assistants of social workers or find minor roles in organizations like research institutions, advocacy groups, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. However, it is ideal to leverage a certificate as an addition to one’s qualifications rather than making it the apex of one’s educational attainment. After all, only 1% of social workers exclusively hold a high school diploma (Zippia, 2023).

How can I advance my career in macro social work?

Graduate degrees pave the way for the mastery of macro practice in social work, thus granting students access to prestigious leadership roles in large organizations. This explains why 33% of social workers hold a master’s degree, a larger share than that of associate degrees (5%) (Zippia, 2023). After all, some certifications require professionals to have an MSW.

Doctorate degrees in social work foster high proficiency in macro social work examples and applications, opening up some of the industry’s highest positions available for graduates.

So, exactly what jobs can you get with a human services degree like social work after completing your post-graduate education? Our team of researchers collated several rewarding options.

What can I do with a Master’s in Macro Social Work?

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers direct and coordinate programs and services that benefit individuals and communities. They create program goals, policies, and processes, manage budgets and resources, and supervise workers. They also work with community stakeholders, government agencies, and other groups to ensure the delivery of successful social and community services.

Median Salary: $74,000

Social Service Program Manager

Social service program managers are in charge of developing, administering, and assessing programs that fulfill specific community needs or goals. They work with community residents, organizations, and stakeholders to determine program priorities and build program success strategies. Additionally, these professionals manage funds, oversee program operations, and analyze program outcomes to guarantee the program’s success and connection with community objectives.

Median Salary: $78,628

Community Policy Manager

Community policy managers are in charge of creating, implementing, and assessing policies that affect a specific community or population. They do research, evaluate data, and consult with members of the community to identify policy needs and goals. They collaborate with stakeholders, government agencies, and advocacy organizations to lobby for policy reforms that address neighborhood issues and improve social fairness.

Median Salary: $112,919

What kind of job can I get with a Doctorate in Macro Social Work?

Director of Social Work

Directors of social work are in charge of the day-to-day operations of social service departments or agencies. They create and carry out policies, programs, and initiatives to suit the requirements of their clients and communities. They manage employees, allocate resources, and assure excellent service delivery while also cooperating with external partners such as government bodies and community organizations to successfully solve social concerns.

Average Salary: $92,756

Public Policy Director

Policy directors are in charge of directing and leading policy activities inside a particular community or organization. To generate policy goals and recommendations, they conduct research, analyze data, and assess community needs. They work with stakeholders to advocate for policy changes and to execute policies that address social issues and increase community well-being.

Median Salary: $209,600

Community Program Director

Community program directors are in charge of coordinating and implementing community programs that are designed to meet specific needs or achieve specified goals. They create program strategies, organize program activities, and guarantee that programs are implemented and evaluated effectively. They work with members of the community, organizations, and stakeholders to analyze community needs, plan program interventions, and measure program outcomes in order to have a positive impact on the community.

Median Salary: $103,900

Which certification is best for Macro Social Work?

There are various macro social work certifications available, and the appropriate certification for aspirants will depend on their unique professional goals, interests, and the area of macro social work in which they choose to concentrate. However, some certifications are more flexible and entail more applications than others.

  • Certified Forensic Social Worker (CFSW). The CFSW is a professional certificate that acknowledges expertise in the interface of social work and the judicial system. It denotes specific knowledge and skills in areas such as forensic evaluation, court testimony, risk assessment, and providing social work assistance to people involved in the criminal justice system.
  • Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP). The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance confers the CNP certification, which focuses on nonprofit administration and leadership. It provides individuals with the knowledge and abilities necessary to effectively manage and lead nonprofit organizations, which is useful for macro social work responsibilities in nonprofit contexts.
  • Certified Community Action Professional (CCAP). The CCAP certification, offered by the Community Action Partnership, is intended for professionals working in community action agencies and focuses on community development, poverty reduction, and advocacy. It recognizes expertise in the implementation and management of initiatives addressing poverty and improving community well-being.
  • Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE). The CFLE certification, which is administered by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR), is relevant to macro social workers who specialize in family systems and community-based interventions. It focuses on information and abilities such as family dynamics, parenting, family policy, and community development.

Besides these, other sought-after certifications are based on one’s specializations, which include the Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), and Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW).

Educational Attainment of Social Workers: 59% - Bachelor’s Degree, 33% - Master’s Degree, 5% - Associate Degree, 1% - High School Diploma

Alternative Career Options for Macro Social Work

Macro social work specialists have a wide range of competencies that are transferrable to similar lines of work. For instance, professionals and graduates of social work programs can pursue careers as family therapists and mental health counselors. Social workers assess the psychological effects of a community’s living conditions and design and execute interventions, which are also instrumental skills in therapy and counseling. Meanwhile, improving the welfare of communities is akin to rehabilitating prisoners and victims of substance abuse.

What else can a macro social worker do?

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists are mental health specialists who specialize in couples and family therapy. They assist clients in navigating and resolving relationship challenges, improving communication, and developing healthier connections. Moreover, they conduct assessments, create treatment plans, and facilitate therapeutic sessions in order to foster understanding, healing, and positive change in the context of relationships and family dynamics.

Median Salary: $49,880

Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors are in charge of aiding people with disabilities in achieving their personal, social, and vocational objectives. They examine the requirements, strengths, and limitations of their customers and create personalized rehabilitation strategies. Additionally, these professionals offer counseling, assistance, and support to clients to help them acquire skills, gain access to resources, and overcome hurdles to improve their independence, employment, and general well-being.

Median Salary: $38,560

Probation Officer

Probation officers work in the criminal justice system to supervise people who have been placed on probation. They supervise probationers’ behavior and compliance, ensuring they follow court-ordered conditions and complete assigned programs or therapies. They also offer counseling, assistance, and tools to assist probationers in reintegrating into the community, making good lifestyle choices, and lowering their chances of reoffending.

Median Salary: $60,250

Source: BLS, 2022

Creating Safe Spaces

Macro level social work, under the premise of providing support to the needy, is a deeply satisfying practice that enables concerned professionals to holistically address social problems and enforce social improvement at a systemic level. From advocating safe spaces for marginalized communities to influencing social policies, all the way to deploying fruitful community programs, macro social workers always put the best interests of the communities they serve forward.

As a line of work, being a macro social worker affords one a diverse set of skills that are applicable beyond the trappings of the job title, and competitive salaries to boot. Besides helping communities, these skills can be leveraged to advance a professional’s career goals, whether by pursuing higher positions through further education, like the various online MSW programs available today. Furthermore, there is a perpetually high demand for macro social workers not just in the United States but also in other parts of the world since many communities still need help in becoming the ideal safe spaces that they are supposed to be.

If you want to see more career options, you can investigate state-specific programs, for instance, how social worker license in Florida goes or where to take MSW Florida programs.



  • BLS (2022, September 8). Social Workers. BLS
  • Kim, H., Sussman, T., Khan, M., & Kahn, S. (2021, April 9). ‘All social work takes place in a macro context’: The gap between international social work training and practice. International Social Work, 66(2). DOI
  • National Association of Social Workers (2023, February 27). National Association of Social Workers turns to Ipsos for survey that shows Social Workers have a high favorability rating. PR Newswire
  • World Population Review (2023). Crime Rate by Country 2023. World Population Review
  • Zippia (2023, April 27). BEST COLLEGES AND MAJORS FOR SOCIAL WORKERS. Zippia
  • Zippia (2022, December 12). SOCIAL WORKER SKILLS FOR YOUR RESUME AND CAREER. Zippia

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