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“If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path” – Buddha


Building a career in the social sector is exciting as well as fulfilling. For humans, the real secret of happiness is helping others. Recall those inner voices from your childhood, that used to inspire you to change the world so that everyone can become happy. With time, we grow and so are our necessities. To fulfill our needs or dreams, we tend to change ourselves as we can’t change the world.


You may not change the world, but you can create a difference, and that too without compromising your career or dreams. Thanks to the technology, all of us are adequately empowered to make changes in the world. The extent of impact doesn’t matter as long as you can make a small positive difference in someone’s life.


Let us understand why the social sector is so critical for humanity’s survival and why an exciting career in social sector can change yours as well as others’ lives:


Consider following statistics from various sources:


  • Number of people who have no access to water – 2.5 billion (Source: Un Water)
  • Number of children (less than 18 years old) who are subject to some form of violence – 1.5 billion (Source: UN)
  • No of people who don’t have access to electricity – 1.4 billion (UNDP)
  • Number of people live in extreme poverty – 1.2 billion (Source: World Bank)
  • People who can’t access healthcare facility – 1 billion (UN)
  • No of people are starving – 842 million (UN)
  • Number of illiterate people – 774 million (UNESCO)
  • No of people affected by Natural Disasters every year – 218 million
  • 25% of the world population live in unhealthy/unsafe living conditions due to lack of access to shelter (UN)
  • 7 million are killed from air pollution annually (World Health Organization).
  • Bribe of worth $1 trillion is transacted every year, which is 5% of the Global GDP


Above figures have not included environmental, natural disaster, social, crime or terror-related casualties which leading causes of concern for the developing as well as the developed world.


Pause for a moment, and imagine the sheer number of people who are suffering for no fault of theirs. Thus, it is our collective responsibility to work for the betterment of the world.


Don’t get intimidated by these numbers. Recently, Bill Gates noted that the challenges are enormous and we need to keep working to address these concerns which are threatening the humanity. (https://www.gatesnotes.com/2017-Annual-Letter).


The Game Changer – Impact Investing


Until a few years back, if you wanted to work in the social sector, you had to join government or charities which work in the legal form of NGOs. Charities are mostly dependent on donations. Thus, they could neither create innovative, out of box solutions nor could provide excellent career opportunities to its people who have dedicated their time to help others. Although many professionals have joined NGOs and charities, they had to make other sacrifices to fulfill their dreams of helping others.


Things are changing now. Many social enterprises have built a profitable business model in the social sector. So they create and sell affordable products or services and address a particular social concern. In the process, they make a modest profit. Thus, they can provide sufficient return on investment to their investors. This is a self-sustainable business model where the entities don’t have to rely on donations or funding to operate. They generate sufficient profit to sustain their operations, invest in Research & Development and provide excellent career opportunities to their employees. Thus, the employees will not have to sacrifice their dreams to help others– they will have a sound career growth, earn a handsome salary, maintain work-life balance and at the same time make a positive difference to the society.


If you wish to help the underprivileged, it is the golden time join social sector and make a difference without sacrificing your lifestyle.


Here is how you can do it through Masters in Social Work degree


To build a great career in Social work or social sector you should have Masters Degree. Although you can start working even after your graduation, it is advisable to complete Post Graduate degree for faster growth and better compensation.


Science, commerce or law graduates are eligible for Masters in Social Work (MSW). However, Art Graduates with social science as an optional subject are preferred by many colleges.


Here are top colleges in India for Masters in Social Work:



You can also pursue Masters in Social Work from foreign institutions to get international exposure. Reputed institutions in the USA, Canada, UK, etc. offer one-year diploma programs in Masters in Social Work.


MSW Disciplines


Not all colleges offer specialization in MSW. However, various disciplines of MSW fall under following categories:


  • Medical/Public Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Mental Health
  • Child Welfare
  • School Social Work


Eligibility Criteria


Different colleges have different eligibility requirements. Many colleges shortlist candidates based on their score in graduation, professional work experience, and interviews. There are others such as TISS, which conducts an entrance exam and shortlisted candidates have to clear the interview round further.


Most of the colleges ask for at least 40-55% marks in Graduation to qualify for their MSW programs.  


The type of people you will serve


At the entry level, you spend most of your time working with people. The kind of work you will do depends on the organization you may join:


Some of the common groups are as follows:


  • Old Adults
  • Disabled people
  • Children
  • People with mental illness or some addiction
  • Individuals with acute, chronic, or terminal diagnoses
  • Environmental Professionals


Where You will Work


Most of the professionals in social sector work in an office setting. However, many spend significant time in the field on sales calls, visiting clients, schools, hospitals or the communities.


You may be working in following set up:


  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical clinics
  • Private Practices or Companies
  • Substance abuse clinics
  • Mental Health Agencies
  • Government departments or agencies
  • Schools
  • Veterans’ clinics
  • Military Bases
  • Environmental Agencies
  • NGOs
  • Community mental health agencies and substance misuse clinics
  • State and local governments including child welfare agencies and departments of health and human services
  • Schools and other youth-serving organizations
  • Military bases and veterans clinics
  • Correctional facilities
  • Private practices


Social Worker Job Description


It’s hard to explain all the jobs, as each job comes with unique challenges, opportunities and job requirements.


Here are some common tasks that you may have to perform:


  • Identifying people who need help
  • Counseling and helping people in need
  • Business Development/Sales for attracting donors
  • Needs assessment of clients (people whom you serve)
  • Assisting individuals in various ways like connecting them with child, food or healthcare as the need may be
  • Providing assistance in dealing with government and ensuring efficient delivery of government schemes and plans
  • Crisis Management
  • Activism


You may also get involved in general business functions such as sales and marketing, content writing, promotional activities, administrative functions, HR, people management, branch heads, etc.


How much salary social workers with MSW degree earn in 2017


The salary mainly depends on the college, work experience, and communication skills. A graduate from an average college may start their career with a salary of around INR 10,000-15,000 per month. The starting salary of a fresh Post Graduate from an average college could be around INR 30,000-40,000 per month. If you have done your Masters in Social Work from a premium college, you may start your career with an average compensation of around INR50,000-INR1,00,000 per month.


Although starting salary is important criteria, you should make your decision based on the long-term factors and not just salary. Passion, interests and job fulfilment should be the primary criteria for choosing a right sector or industry.




You should be passionate about helping others to succeed in the social sector. Degrees will help you land better job opportunities. However, you need to work long hours, stay out of home for many days, travel to rural areas and work in stressful situations continuously. Thus, before making a decision, you must do extensive research evaluate multiple choices you might have.