My journey to social work began with an interest in performance improvement and practice transformation. In my first health care position as a data analyst for an acute care medical center, I was fortunate to work closely with clinician leaders and clinical informatics personnel on performance outcome measures. This role introduced me to the unique positions social workers possess, in their ability to improve patient care (through direct patient care, policy and advocacy work, and hospital leadership roles), igniting my pursuit to integrate a social work lens within my career in data analytics.
Although it is possible to be a social worker with a bachelor's degree in the United States, some fields of practice require a master's degree.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the profession will grow by 25% between 2010 and 2020.  Social workers' earnings vary according to their area of specialization and work environment.  The growing elderly population is resulting in accelerated job growth among gerontology social workers. Social workers with a focus on mental health and substance abuse are in high demand when offenders are directed to treatment instead of jail time, a trend that is expected to continue.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment projection  shows that those with higher levels of education in the field tend to earn more than those with a bachelor's degree, so a master's degree could help job applicants compete in the job market.