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Social Workers


The military needs close cooperation and a spirit of teamwork among its men and women. Social workers focus on improving conditions that cause social problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse, racism, and sexism.

What They Do

Social workers in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

Physical Demands

Social workers need to be able to speak clearly and distinctly to work with clients.

Special Requirements

A four-year college degree in social work or related social sciences is required to enter this career. Some specialties require a master's degree.

Helpful Attributes

Helpful attributes include:

Helpful School Subjects

No information available.

Helpful Fields of Study

No information available.

Work Environment

Social workers in the military usually work in offices or clinics.

Services offering this career:

Hiring Practices

To serve in the military, a person must be at least 17; the maximum age for enlistment varies. To enlist, a person must pass a physical exam and an aptitude test. An enlistee must also meet military standards of discipline and be a US citizen or permanent resident alien.

This position is for officers.


The military is competitive with the civilian world when it comes to pay and benefits. All branches offer the same basic pay and benefits.

Pay depends mainly on rank or grade as well as length of service. Bonuses and the situation in which the person is serving (for example: flight duty, sea duty, hazardous duty) also affect pay. 

Cost-of-living increases usually occur every year, based on inflation. The military also pays allowances for food, clothing, and housing. All these factors combined are called Regular Military Compensation (RMC). They should all be considered when comparing military pay to civilian pay.

There are two main parts to RMC: basic pay and allowances. There are also additional incentives for special abilities, training, or hazardous duty.

Check out the RMC Calculator to calculate your RMC based on your inputs.

Training Provided

Job training consists of 16 to 24 weeks of instruction.

Course content typically includes:

Civilian Counterparts

Civilian social workers work for hospitals, human service agencies, and federal, state, county, and city governments. They perform duties similar to those performed by military social workers. However, civilian social workers usually specialize in a particular field, such as family services, child welfare, or medical services. They may also be called social group workers, medical social workers, psychiatric social workers, and social welfare administrators.

Related Civilian Careers

Employment and Outlook

In peace time the services have about 300 social workers. In times of military action the number may be different, depending on the type of specialties required. Each year the services need new social workers due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. After job training, social workers are assigned to counseling or assistance centers. With experience, they may advance to senior management positions.