Child welfare is more than a job—it’s a career that presents a lifetime of opportunities. And you don’t need an advanced degree in social work to get started; the most important qualities are commitment, empathy, and heart.

Read on to learn more about why you should apply for a job in child welfare, including an FAQ below that shares how you will fit into the child welfare profession.

Apply now to be a child welfare professional.
To find opportunities in your area, check with your local state, county or tribal child welfare department.

Who do we need in child welfare?

People who want to serve their communities by supporting the families who live there.

What do child welfare professionals do?

They play a crucial role in building upon the strengths within a family, helping them create a stable and nurturing home that children need to thrive. Their main goal is to safeguard the well-being of children and ensure their healthy development.


family situations


when children are at risk


and provide resources for families

“I am amazed at how a family can open their door to a stranger and share some of the hardest moments in their life…there is nothing more humbling than to be the listener in those brave conversations.”

Josie Berry
Child welfare professional in Colorado

Hear from a child welfare professional

“I want to positively impact the system and be part of the solution. By sharing my experience and ideas, I have the power to dispel stigma and shift bias.”

Heather Cantamessa Child welfare professional in Washington

How do I fit into the child welfare profession?

Child welfare opens up many opportunities for personal and professional growth, both within the profession and beyond. Here are a few different career paths that you can pursue:

  • Case workers/case managers work with children and families to identify their strengths and needs. They then co-create a plan that best meets those needs, so they can best support the children’s healthy development.
  • Child Protective investigators look into child abuse and maltreatment reports, gather evidence, and provide intervention recommendations. They work closely with families, law enforcement, courts, and other agencies to assess risks, develop safety plans, and coordinate the interventions necessary to keep families together.
  • Social work assistants and case aids work with social workers and caseworkers to help families access needed services and resources within their communities. Often they have specialized expertise such as parents and youth with lived experience, survivors of intimate partner violence, and experience with mental illness or substance use. They may also help with paperwork and administrative tasks.
  • Adoption and foster care workers work with families to place children in foster or adoptive homes, ensuring their well-being. In some cases, they are also tasked with finding permanent homes for children or ensuring youth who can live independently do so in a supportive environment.

Depending on their skills, interests, and qualifications, child welfare professionals can choose a path that aligns with their passion for supporting and advocating for the well-being of children and families. These are hands-on careers where you will often see the tangible impact of the work.

  Here are some important steps you can take to ensure you grow with your career:

  • Participate in training: Take advantage of ongoing training that provides up-to-date information, knowledge, research, and insights about child welfare. This helps you stay current with changing regulations and best practices to provide children and families with the highest quality of care.
  • Get advanced degrees/certifications: To increase your knowledge and employment options, consider getting an advanced degree like a Master of Social Work or certifications. Many jurisdictions provide financial support for advanced degrees through Title IV-E. Additionally, earning relevant certifications in child welfare or similar professions can demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to the profession.
  • Specialize in child welfare: Work on developing your specific expertise in child welfare, such as child protection, foster care, adoption, or family support. Becoming an expert in child welfare will equip you with the tools needed to make a significant impact and will open doors for you to advance in your career and take on leadership roles.
  • Seek leadership positions: Leadership positions in child welfare organizations provide several career advancement opportunities. Take training to enhance your leadership and organizational skills to qualify for managerial or supervisory roles where you can influence policy, manage teams, and shape the future of child welfare services.
  • Gain real-world experience: Nothing is more valuable than a real-world experience in the child welfare profession. Look for opportunities to volunteer, intern, or work in a child welfare setting to learn real-world skills, develop practical knowledge, and grow your professional network.
  • Develop your power skills: As a child welfare professional, you need a comprehensive set of skills. Here are just a few that will be helpful in this career: active listening, cultural humility, critical thinking and problem-solving, time management, self-care, advocacy, boundary setting, communication, empathy, social perceptiveness, and self-awareness.

A combination of these strategies will help you create a solid professional foundation for your career in child welfare.

The average child welfare professional salary in the United States is $59,740 as of July 25, 2023. However, the salary typically ranges between $52,627 and $67,989. The salary ranges can vary depending on factors from education, training, certifications, and years of experience. New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York are the top-paying states for child welfare professionals, with salary ranges of $75,590, $71,970, and $70,690 respectively. Professionals with over 15 years of experience can earn $79,414 annually.

Child welfare is always actively hiring caring, tenacious and passionate individuals—and the need is only rising. Zippia predicts an 11% job growth for child welfare caseworkers between 2018 and 2028. And social work job growth is expected to be at 9% from 2021 to 2031, accounting for around 74,700 new job openings yearly. A third of child welfare caseworkers work in the private sector, while the government employs more than half. Furthermore, a career in social work may lead to several other distinct paths, like clinical practice, government policy, community organizing, research, advocacy, and education.

Ready to apply?

To learn more about opportunities in your community, check out your local state, county, or tribal child welfare department’s careers page.