Land of the sand hills and the coastal plains, South Carolina is known for its marshes, estuaries, dunes, river deltas and beautiful beaches. South Carolina is located in the Southeastern part of the United States with its eastern border on the Atlantic Ocean (1).
South Carolina is the 24th most populous and the 40th largest state in the nation (2). Known for beautiful historic towns and Southern hospitality, it’s a great place to get a bowl of she-crab bisque or a plate of shrimp and grits. Tourists flock to South Carolina’s beautiful beaches and historic cities, enjoying the surf at Hilton Head Island and the charm of Charleston.
A Mostly Rural State
The South Carolina Office of Rural Health reports that 53 percent of South Carolina is rural, and most of those rural parts of the state qualify as “Health Professional Shortage Areas,” meaning they do not have adequate healthcare professionals, including social workers (3).
South Carolina has a larger than average percentage of the population living in poverty with 17.6 percent of the population living in poverty, compared to the national average of 14.9 percent. The median household income is also low – $44,623, compared to the national average of $53,046 (4).
South Carolina has a low rate of high school graduation – only 68.2 percent graduated in four years as of 2013 (5). Teen pregnancy is also a concern. While the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has been somewhat effective, the state is still in the top fifteen states (highest rate of teen pregnancy being a one on a scale of one to fifty) (6).
The University of South Carolina, in conjunction with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, surveyed a portion of the youth in transition from foster care in the state. One in five of the youths who were interviewed (all of which had been in the South Carolina foster care system at one point or another) reported being homeless at one point in their lives, and reported that worries about future housing and employment (as young adults) was a primary concern (7).
If you would like to work with underserved youths and families dealing with poverty, you will find opportunities to do so in the state.
Studying Social Work
Are you thinking of pursuing your master’s of social work in state? According to the 2014 US News & World Report school rankings, the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work is ranked number 60 in the nation. Winthrop University’s Department of Social Work is ranked 130th in the nation (8).
The University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work prides itself on its international connections. For example, the college recently partnered with Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA) to co-sponsor a conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, fostering the exchange of ideas about social work, with an emphasis on mental health (9).
If you are willing to work in an underserved community, you should look into student loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps loan forgiveness program (NHSC). If you find a job working in a “Health Professional Shortage Area” (HPSA), which most of the state qualifies as, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness up to $20,000 per year.
Opportunities on the Rise
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, job opportunities for social workers in South Carolina are on the rise. In particular, healthcare social workers are in demand, with job growth predicted to increase at a rate of 37 percent. Currently 2,370 healthcare social workers are employed by the state, making a median salary of $42,200 (10).
Mental health and substance abuse social work positions are also on the rise. This job sector is predicted to grow at a rate of 27 percent (11).
Most of the people employed in South Carolina as social workers are working as child, family or school social workers (5,740 out of the 9,500 working in the state). The average social worker in this sector makes a median wage of $34,200. Even this sector is experiencing job growth – at a rate of 12 percent (12).
Licensure and Professional Development Resources
- National Association of Social Workers, South Carolina Chapter
- South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners
- South Carolina Association of School Social Workers
- South Carolina Society of Clinical Social Work
Colleges and Universities that have Master’s in Social Work Programs in South Carolina
- States Which Seceded, 2014. EHistory.com. http://ehistory.osu.edu/world/articles/articleview.cfm?AID=34
- South Carolina Population, 2014. World Population Review. http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/south-carolina-population/
- Rural Recruitment Services, 2014. Sout Carolina Office of Rural Health. http://scorh.net/our-services/rural-recruitment-services/
- State and County QuickFacts, 2014. United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/45000.html
- State Data: South Carolina, 2014. America’s Health Rankings. http://www.americashealthrankings.org/SC
- Teen Pregnancy Rates Decline, But SC Still in Top 15 Nationally, 2013. WISTV. http://www.wistv.com/story/20611639/teen-pregnancy-rates-decline-but-sc-still-in-top-15-nationally
- Voices and Visions of SC Youth in Transition, 2011. National Youth in Transition Database. http://www.nytdstayconnected.com/images/pdfs/voicesandvisionsbrochure.pdf
- Graduate School Search – Social Work Programs, 2014. US News and World Report. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/search?spp=10&program=top-social-work-schools&name=&zip=south+carolina&program_rank=Any&sort=&sortdir=
- America’s Career InfoNet – Career Profile, 2014. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211022&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=45&search=Go
- America’s Career InfoNet – Career Profile, 2014. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211023&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=45&search=Go
- America’s Career InfoNet – Career Profile, 2014. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211021&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=45&search=Go