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International Social Worker: A Career Profile

From child protection to disaster relief, international social workers make a difference in all parts of the world.

Poverty and hunger. Human rights. Mental health and well-being. Natural disasters. People around the world are struggling with these big issues, and they need passionate social workers who are qualified to help. If you want to address social injustices and change lives across borders, think about a career as an international social worker.


What Is International Social Work?

According to the International Federation of Social Workers, social work “promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people.”1 For international social workers, this means working across boundaries to address social justice issues, advance human rights, and help disadvantaged children and families overcome life’s challenges so they can lead better, healthier lives.

What Does an International Social Worker Do?

International social worker jobs vary greatly. The types of work—and where you work—depend on your college degree and career interests, as well as things like current global events, international funding, and foreign policy.

Here are three examples of the important work you could do as an international social worker:

1. Child welfare and protection: International social workers in this area focus on helping vulnerable children and families overcome challenges often associated with poverty. International social workers educate families, connect them to support and resources, and advocate for policy and social change to improve the well-being of children and families in disadvantaged communities.

2. Gender equality: Many international social workers dedicate their careers to empowering and protecting women. This includes raising global awareness about important topics like domestic violence, family planning, and women’s health as well as connecting women to support services and education and job opportunities. International social workers strive to advance women’s rights in countries around the world and also work to address pressing issues such as sex trafficking.

3. Crisis and disaster relief: When a region experiences a devastating hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster, international social workers are among the first to arrive to help out. Sometimes they work for humanitarian organizations that coordinate disaster relief efforts globally, such as the Red Cross network. International social workers are also found in refugee camps, doing everything from providing emotional support to helping refugees get basic needs like food and shelter.

International social workers often work closely, as either employees or partners, with charities, humanitarian groups, governmental agencies, NGOs, the United Nations, and other international organizations.

How Much Can I Earn as an International Social Worker?

Salaries of international social workers vary greatly, ranging anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000 a year, depending on the hiring organization.2 Salaries of international social workers also depend on years of experience, work location, and type of work.

Many international social workers begin their careers domestically. Generally, social work professionals in healthcare, mental health, child and family services, education, and other services earn median salaries between $44,000 and $63,000 per year in the United States.3

There are many types of social workers, and there’s a growing need for them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for social work professionals is expected to increase 11% by 2028—much faster than the national average for all occupations.3

Get Started With an Online Education

You may be wondering how to become a social worker. Earning a degree online is a great step toward a social worker career. Explore how Walden University’s CSWE-accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) programs can open doors to exciting and rewarding career opportunities, such as international social work.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degree programs in social work. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University’s Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing accreditation standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,