Work Experiences of Rural Social Workers in the United States

Jayme E. Walters, Aubrey E. Jones, Aaron R. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Rural social workers face unique challenges and opportunities as they seek to address the needs of rural Americans. Using social media, rural social workers in the U.S. were recruited to describe their characteristics and explore factors related to their job satisfaction, burnout, and organizational commitment. Analyses included univariate descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations, and multiple regression. The sample (N = 192) represented 146 counties in 36 states. Participants tended to be White, female, MSW-degreed direct-service providers. Participants were moderately satisfied with their organizational environments and workloads. Age, being Black, and working in settings other than child welfare were most strongly related to satisfaction with workload. Personal burnout scores were highest followed by work-related and client-related burnout. Age and not working in child welfare were most strongly related to lower burnout scores. Being Black and having more tenure in one’s current job were associated with less client-related burnout. Participants indicated moderate levels of commitment to their organizations, with higher salaries and more tenure being the most strongly associated factors. Future research is necessary to examine more closely the work experiences of rural social workers who are younger, identify as racial or ethnic minorities, and employed in child welfare settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-788
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Rural social work
  • burnout
  • job satisfaction
  • organizational commitment
  • work experiences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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