Social work in India: Courses, Scope, Jobs

It is no longer a matter of debate that we live in a system of chaos. Whether this chaos is the product of capitalist society or that of a related market economy, it is a terrifying fact that inequalities among people are increasing day by day. There are many sets of underprivileged people around all of us – the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the grievously ill, women, transgender, children without family and many more. It is indeed a fact that each of us is vested with the responsibility of offering them a better life. But yes, we lead busy and tedious lives ourselves. 

There are some of us, if not very few, who are genuinely keen about lending a helping hand for these needy. We might realise our social responsibility of being available for them, we might even feel that there is a part for us to play in making the system more inclusive. However, majoritarian perception says social service is not a thing we can take forward full-time. Is it really so? Well, not anymore. What if I tell you that you can be a part of this inclusiveness project, feel good about it, and actually get paid for doing that? It might seem a bit awkward that social work has now become a legit profession, but our chaos have taken us far ahead of this path. 

Shall we now examine how social work has become a corporate-backed profession with an amazing pay scale? You are about to be surprised positively.

What is Social Work?

People who take social work as a career do exactly what voluntary social workers did till now – identify the people who have been affected by poverty, unemployment, lack of education and health, drug abuse, etc, and alleviate their misery. All the resources necessary for the betterment of people’s lives are indeed available in the system. Social workers act as agents who locate, access and distribute these resources to the needy. They work among individuals, families, and communities to rectify any injustice or inequality experienced by them from the rest of the world.

Social workers had always been a necessity to make the interaction between the provider and receiver – here the state and the needy – easier. If earlier people got into the field of social work without any personal gain or return, now the scenario has changed for the better. Those who wish to help others and partake in the activity of national rebuilding can now do that, and make a successful career out of it. How is it possible?

Social work in India: How does it become a career?

Perceiving social work as a career might seem bizarre to many. But, give it a deep thought. How wonderful would it be to develop a career that would benefit not only you, but the entire society? Many multinational companies and corporates now hire social workers with a professional degree to guide them in their CSR projects. A part of the profit acquired by the corporates are spent on uplifting disadvantaged communities, and such projects are led by dedicated social workers.

Also, NGO’s require social workers to implement their projects among communities. Most of those who wish to develop a career as a social worker, work with some kind of NGO in India. Even government policy-making committees hire social workers permanently. It has been recognized that along with subject experts, policy-making agencies should also have social workers who can sensitize and productively reshape the tactics. Social workers are also hired in the health sector, educational sector, prisons, rehabilitation centres and in labor welfare sector, in large numbers.

Even when social work becomes a career, one core element remains unchanged – the sheer satisfaction enjoyed by the social worker.

Social work in India: What is BSW and MSW?

When social work becomes career with ample payment, it is necessary for the aspirant to be trained professionally. The basic qualification of a social worker in India is BSW (Bachelor of Social Work), or BA in Social Work. Both these undergraduate courses are equivalent and provide a very basic insight towards the various branches of social work. Anyone who has completed higher secondary education in 10+2 format in any stream can enroll for a BSW course.

Postgraduate courses are also provided by leading institutions. MSW (Master of Social Work) or MA in Social Work can be opted by those who seriously wish to develop a career out of social work. A BSW graduate can opt MSW for higher studies. Any graduate can get admitted to MSW course, quite often after qualifying the entrance examination. While BSW course provides a basic understanding of social work practices and ethics, MSW course helps aspirants to choose their field of specialisation and develop skills in it.

MSW is considered as a benchmark course in the field of social work. However, MPhil and PhD degrees can also be gained in the discipline, if you’d like to enter academia. NGOs and government agencies also prefer PhD holders. In any case, if you wish to become a social worker professionally, it is important to make sure that you are dedicated and keenly interested in working on the field, amidst any adversities. Compassion and tolerance are necessary for any person who desires to enter the field.  

Social Work in India – scope

After understanding the possibilities of a career in social work, I am sure many more questions might have sprung up in your mind. What kind of ‘job’ do they do? Who is going to hire them? Will they get paid decently? All these are relevant queries indeed. When a person decides to choose social work as a career, it is important to crosscheck if that career can feed him and his family well. Let us find answers to each of these questions one by one.

With the elevation in inequality status in India, it has become necessary for the government to tackle all adversities and create a state of wellbeing for all. The government would hire social workers as planners, administrators, and policymakers for various state-funded projects in this regard. Social workers can thus expect a pretty desirable number of vacancies in the government sector.

MNC’s, human rights agencies, HR departments of many corporate industries also hires social workers as part of their various social welfare projects. Many well-to-do social welfare platforms including the Rural Development department, CRY, CINI, HelpAge India, etc. have ample openings for MSW holders. Even UNESCO and UNICEF hires social workers frequently.

Apart from all these, BSW and MSW graduates are hired by counseling centres, clinics, mental health centres, old age homes, prisons, disaster management departments, natural resources management companies, etc. If these choices do not seem enough, following are another set of professions that can be taken up by a social work graduate:

  • Human Resource Manager
  • Public Welfare Manager
  • Consultant
  • Social Security Officer
  • Researcher 
  • Teacher
  • Criminologist
  • Labour Welfare Specialist 

Social work in India: Salary

Now comes the billion-dollar question. What could be the salary received by a social worker in this country? Be surprised again, an MSW graduate can earn up to 10 Lakhs per annum. Entry-level salaries can go as low as 2 lakh a year, but with more experience and reputation of the firm that hires you, you can easily earn more than any basic graduate. If you really have a desire to work for social welfare, then tell me – why should you think twice before opting BSW or MSW?

How to study social work?

Let us now see how a future social worker is trained in colleges. The entire curriculum of BSW and MSW is totally different from any other course since fieldwork is rather important. Every year, students shall mandatorily undergo months of fieldwork under an expert, and submit a detailed report. This report is one of the core elements of a social work course. BSW is an undergraduate course of 3 years, and MSW is a postgraduate course spanning 2 years. BSW is considered as an introductory course, which involves a lot of fieldwork and basics. On the other hand, while doing MSW, students can choose their area of specialization from any of the following:

  • Human Resource Management
  • Personnel Management
  • Criminology & Correction Administration
  • Family & Child Welfare
  • Urban and Rural Community Development
  • Industrial Relation and Labour Welfare

Social work in India: Best colleges for BSW/MSW

Many private institutions provide BSW and MSW courses throughout the country. However, it is important to choose the right place to get the right kind of exposure and guidance. Central universities like Pondicherry University provide MSW course, for which an entrance examination would be conducted. Almost all the prime institutions including the Tata Institute of Social Sciences conduct separate entrance examinations. Admission to bachelor’s degree, however, can be secured on the basis of higher secondary mark sheet as well.

The following are the leading institutions to approach for the best of BSW and MSW courses.

  • Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
  • Madras School of Social Work, Chennai
  • Madras Christian College, Chennai
  • Amity University, Lucknow
  • Osmania University, Hyderabad
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Loyola College, Chennai
  • University of Delhi, New Delhi
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Pondicherry University, Puducherry
  • Madras School of Social Work, Chennai
  • Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Kolkata
  • Amity University, Lucknow
  • Osmania University, Hyderabad
  • Madras Christian College, Chennai
  • Christ University, Bangalore

Institutes like Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Jamia Millia Islamia provide MPhil and PhD degrees in social work as well. Mahatma Gandhi College of Social Work in West Champaran also provides an integrated BSW-MSW degree in social work. However, the fee structure of these courses is not as high as that of other professional courses. A two-year MSW course in a central university can range from 10,000-30,000 in total. However, other institutions might charge a fee of upto 2 lakh in total for the same course. 


The major attraction of social work as a profession is what I have already stated – the joy of getting paid for helping the world become a better place. This idea might seem impossibly romantic, but it has already turned a reality. Social work has even transformed into a corporate job. If you can turn a philanthropic activity into a paid job, then what stops you from practicing it? Just like doctors and teachers who render an invaluable service as a job, social workers shall be the boom of tomorrow. So are you ready to build a corporate career with a humanitarian touch?

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