Oncology Social Worker

Get patients through the challenges of fighting cancer.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$29,000 – $72,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Oncology Social Workers do?

A cancer diagnosis can be transformative. Patients are pulled from their comfortable lives into a world of Doctors, treatments, and hospitals. Working, talking, playing, eating, and sleeping can all become difficult, and the patient can grow angry, frightened, and isolated. For these patients, an Oncology Social Worker can provide immense relief.

When you’re an Oncology Social Worker, patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer may schedule meetings with you while they’re still in the hospital. Some patients may have questions about their diagnosis and treatment plans, and as the Oncology Social Worker, you meet with these patient and their Doctors to clear up those questions. Other patients may have questions about the emotional aspects of the diagnosis, and you allow these patients to talk about their fears.

The patient’s Caregivers may also have questions about the disease, the burdens they face as Caregivers, and the fears they have about the patient’s death. Once again, you act as a supportive presence for these Caregivers, and you sometimes facilitate discussions between them and the patient.

Handling small tasks — such as crafting a living will, grabbing more blankets out of the closet, or calling the patient on the day after therapy — can help the patient feel loved and cared for. Taking on larger tasks, such as scheduling pickups for treatments and advocating for experimental therapies, may also be part of the Oncology Social Worker’s job description.

Group counseling sessions can help patients and Caregivers break out of their isolation and feel a sense of community. You hold these sessions many times per week, and you encourage your clients to attend by posting fancy announcements all over your hospital. Some clients prefer to meet with you alone, however, so you keep time open for those appointments.

Should I be an Oncology Social Worker?

You should have a master's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Helpful: You always keep an eye out for what other people need.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • Also known as: Director of Social Work, Older Adult Social Work Specialist, Oncology Social Work See More

    How to become an Oncology Social Worker

    Most Oncology Social Workers have a Master's degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaai9c&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2811%25%29|master%27s+%2885%25%29|doctorate+%284%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,85
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