Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Disability Policy Social Workers

Disability Policy Social WorkerThe American Disabilities Act of 1990 states,

“The Congress finds that physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person’s right to fully participate in all aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded from doing so because of discrimination … the Nation's proper goals regarding individuals with disabilities are to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for such individuals…”

People with disabilities have the right to opportunity, independent living, participation, and economic self-sufficiency. However, people with disabilities have not always enjoyed these rights.

To read the entire act see - https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/history/35th/1990s/ada.html

Disability policy social workers advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities.

Disability Policy Social Workers Career Options

Disbilitystatistics.org reports that in 2013, as many as 12.6 percent or one-fifth of all people in the US were classified as having a hearing, visual, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, or independent-living disability.  Disability policy social workers must consider the changes necessitated by The American Disabilities Act, and the growing activism of disability rights groups.

Disability policy social workers lobby legislative representatives to pass laws that are beneficial to people with disabilities. They also work to increase public awareness about the many problems plaguing people with disabilities by writing and publishing articles about the civil rights of all disabled individuals.

Depending on the employer, disability policy social workers may work on the federal, state, or local level for non-profit organizations, such as the Civil Liberties Union or the Disability Rights Advocates.  Disability policy social workers may work with other government or state agencies to file a lawsuit against a company, for instance, which is discriminating against disabled employees. Some disability policy social workers promote the rights of individuals with disabilities in grocery stores, manufacturing plants, hospitals, or even grocery stores.

Disability policy social workers:

  • Protect the rights of disabled people throughout all sectors of society
  • Encourage politicians to pass laws to improve working conditions and the treatment of disabled people.
  • Mandate the creation of specialized education programs
  • Develop policies in the workplace
  • Affect change on a large-scale level, which often takes years to implement

Typical Employment Settings for a Disability Policy Social Worker

Disability policy social workers might be employed in areas/sectors. However, as a disability policy social worker advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities, most individuals work for government agencies at the state, local and national level.  Other employment settings, include:

  • Non-profit organizations and agencies
  • Public and private organizations that cater to individuals with disabilities
  • Businesses and corporations to create or update handbooks regarding the treatment of disabled individuals in the workplace
  • Social Service Organizations
  • Disability Service Providers
  • Public Interest Groups

Learn more about how to become a disability policy social worker.

Ways a Disability Policy Social Worker Can Increase Desirability as a Job Candidate and Increase His or Her Salary

A disability policy social worker with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) may find employment in many entry-level positions. However, to increase desirability in this competitive field and gain employment at a more experienced level, individuals should consider earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW).

A BSW will prepare individuals for direct-service positions, and teach students about diverse populations, social welfare policies, and human behavior. All bachelor’s degree programs require students complete supervised fieldwork and an internship.

All states require some form of licensure or certification to practice as a disability policy social worker.  Individuals interested in employment as a disability policy social worker should contact their state board (Association of Social Work Boards) for information regarding regulatory licensure requirements.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, disability policy social workers, which fall under the broad category of all social workers, earned a median annual salary of approximately $54,000 in 2012.  The lowest 10 percent earned just less than $27,500, and the top 10 percent earned more than $72,000.

There is no specific information regarding job growth for disability policy social workers. However, because of the American Disabilities Act of 1990, companies, organizations, advocacy groups, and other agencies are now required to meet the needs of disabled individuals.  Unquestionably, this will lead to additional employment opportunities for disabled policy social workers in the years to come.

Related Social Work Education Guides

Attributes Employers Often Look for When Hiring a Disability Policy Social Worker

  • Problem-solving skills:  Disability policy social workers must develop solutions to a client’s problems
  • Compassion: Disability policy social workers work with people in difficult and stressful situations.   To develop strong relationships, which are imperative to this job, a disability policy social worker must have compassion.
  • Organizational and time management skills: Managing multiple clients, assisting with paperwork and documenting treatment or job options requires good organizational and time management skills.
  • Interpersonal skills: Disability policy social workers must be able to work with different and diverse groups of people.  They need strong interpersonal skills to foster healthy relationships with their clients.
  • Listening skills: As advocates, disability policy social workers must be able to listen to their client’s needs in order to perform their job successfully.

Networking Opportunities and Organizations for Disability Policy Social Workers

Advocacy Groups: