Social work vs psychology: which career is right for you?

Do you want a career that means making a difference every single day? Then a career in social work or psychology is perfect for you.

  • Both are careers that help people
  • Both improve people’s lives by helping them navigate challenges.
  • Both lead to in-demand jobs.

As a social worker you’ll be a force for social change in your community. Resolve social problems. Provide care, support and justice to your community. Develop new insights into culture, and society. Find solutions to social, behavioural, economic or health problems. What’s more, the government predicts very strong growth in demand for social workers, so you’ll have a secure career too.

Choose psychology and you could work in so many different industries, including counselling, social policy, human resources, market research, social welfare, and educational or correctional facilities. In each one, you’d investigate what makes people tick, and find ways to make their lives better. The government’s national skills forecast shows lots of different types of psychology professionals will be in demand in the future.

And when you start your career in social work or psychology with an undergraduate degree from Charles Sturt, you’re putting yourself in the best position for success. After all, more Charles Sturt undergrads get jobs after they complete their degree than any other uni in Australia.

So weighing up social work vs psychology, which path should you take?

Top social work careers

Mental health and addictions

Having a mental illness or managing substance misuse should not mean individuals can’t strive to live their best life. You could help people access the services they need, or develop strategies with them to navigate things like working or finding housing, managing stress or even developing healthy relationships. Help people build their resilience so they can survive – and thrive.

Eco social worker

This field – also referred to as ‘green social work’ – is concerned with how environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and climate change, affect the wellbeing of people and communities.

In Australia specifically, devastating bushfires have become more frequent in recent years. So there’s an increased need for social workers who have the knowledge to help in these particular circumstances.

Child, school and family

Social workers play an essential role in helping to provide children and families with the support they need to ensure that everyone is safe and well. This can involve working with children who are at risk, and their families. In some situations it involves helping provide out of home care, such as foster care or kinship care for kids who can’t continue to stay at home. Or work in a school to help kids get the most out of their learning.

Community social work

Community social workers manage support programs. That may be as part of a non-profit, a charity or a government agency. In community social work, you’ll play a key role in advocacy or devising and delivering outreach programs in the community – whether that’s providing aid in the wake of a tragedy, tackling inequality, or making essential daily services more effective.

Top psychology careers

Psychological wellbeing

Assess and support adults who are experiencing common mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety and low mood.

You’ll also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as therapists and employment advisers to devise holistic treatment plans for your clients.

Counselling

Use your psychological theory and practical skills to undertake therapeutic work to help clients understand, address and manage a range of life issues or mental health conditions.

From helping children deal with bereavement or families cope with trauma, to assisting adults manage anxiety, PTSD, an eating disorder or depression, you’ll be helping people every day.

Human resources

At the heart of every organisation is its people. And understanding how and why people behave as they do is a very valuable tool if you want to work in human resources.

Your psychological expertise will help you devise and deliver programs to keep a company’s workforce happy, healthy and motivated. You’ll be involved in organisational practice and policy.

Psychologist

A Charles Sturt undergraduate degree is the perfect first step to becoming a registered psychologist. When you graduate from your bachelor’s, you’ll apply for provisional registration as a psychologist. Then you’ll need to undertake postgrad study and/or relevant work experience to gain full registration as a psychologist. You can then treat clients across a range of settings, and get involved in public policy or the justice system.

Choose your path

When it comes to social work vs psychology, whatever career you choose to start in, a degree with us means you graduate with the skills, knowledge and confidence you need to succeed. After all, we’re…