The majority of people (and readers as well) would definitely agree on the fact that all of us desire to lead a life without being under constant pressure and feeling constantly enable of reaching self-fulfillment that seems elusive to us. In addition to that, in contemporary society, in which money matters do really matter a lot, all of us would be glad to obtain a satisfying financial situation and to be able to afford not only what is included in our basic needs but also to afford ourselves pleasures such as travelling or going out.
However, sometimes not all of us manage to make that wish come true. There are people who struggle with getting by. Therefore, society invented a vocation called a social worker. This article aims to inform the readers about this working position. We will discuss points such as what a social worker is, what a social worker does, and, most importantly, how a person can become a social worker. We hope this article will appear interesting and useful to all the readers – the ones who simply want to get new information about this vocation as well as the ones who consider making it their future working position. So, sit back, relax, and find out something about the vocation of a social worker!
Who is a Social Worker?
Before we proceed to bring up the job details about the occupation of a social worker, let us first determine what this working position entails.
A social worker is a person supposed to obtain various skills in order to surmount the gaps between higher and lower levels of our society. Moreover, a social worker is the one who helps the people who struggle with getting by to improve their circumstances and provide themselves with a better quality of life. Social workers are the ones who connect and communicate with people in order to help them solve their financial problems and to go for a better quality of life, standard, and self-fulfillment. In order to give some more details about this position, we will include a few steps that may guide you on how to become a social worker. We hope they will be useful to the readers.
Why Is A Social Worker Essential in Our Contemporary Society?
Since our society is not always functioning in the fairest way that can be imagined, it is easy to conclude that not all of us live to see their dream of being able to afford themselves an easy living come true. It is actually another way around – large groups of people all over the world literally struggle just to make the ends meet. There is a wide gap between various social groups and that gap often seems insurmountable.
Social workers are the ones who are supposed to obtain great skills in order to approach the ones from risk social groups. Thus, social workers’ job is to help those people surmount the gap between them and the ones with a better living standard and to make a better quality of life for themselves. That is why the position of a social worker is essential nowadays, and in this article, we will present you this working position and let you know about the job details regarding social workers.
Fields of Social Work
Before we proceed to explain some details about this job, we must emphasize that there are a few types of social workers, who are engaged in various but interconnected fields. Therefore, we will create a list of those types since it is important to choose which one you prefer when deciding on your future career:
- Social Workers in Administration, Policy, and Research
- Child, Family and School Social Workers
- Community Social Workers
- Gerontological Social Workers
- Medical and Health Social Workers
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
- Military and Veterans Social Work
- Palliative and Hospice Social Work
- Psychiatric Social Workers
- Schools Social Workers
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Is your head already spinning from the list that shows an admirably broad range of various specialties of a social worker? If you are interested in further details about some of them and the working position of a social worker in general, stay tuned and continue with reading the article.
What Does A Social Worker Do?
Whatever working position may be at stake, people are always interested in getting to know more about what exactly that working position entails. In order to reach the expectations of our dear readers, we will bring up the responsibilities and duties of a social worker.
First of all, we have already mentioned that social workers are the ones who help with surmounting the gaps between various social groups. In addition to that, as it is obvious from the list in the paragraph above, social workers may specialize in various directions. Therefore, we will create a list of the possible target groups they may choose to work with:
- Children and Students
- People with Mental Issues and Those Who Struggle with Drug or Alcohol Abuse
- People Who Survived a PTSD, the Ones Who Are Experienced in War Actions
- People Who Belong to Various Minorities (Ethnical, Sexual, etc.)
- People Who Are Disabled or Terminally Ill and Who Are under Constant Treatment
It is obvious that social workers have various duties, most important of which is to help the people who belong to some of the groups mentioned above to obtain a better quality of life. If ones if interested in taking such a responsible working position up, one may find more pieces of useful information, further in this article. So, proceed with reading!
Work Environment of a Social Worker
If a person is interested in dedicating his or her life and career to social work, that person must be interested in where he or she might expect to find work once they start with their job. Therefore, we will provide you with a list of possible work environments of a social worker.
The following list was formed according to the survey made by a renowned School of Social Work, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck:
- Medical or Public Health
According to the list, becoming a medical social worker is one of the soundest opportunities when this vocation is at stake. Speaking of the work environment, medical social workers may work in any facility that provides care to patients, such as
- emergency rooms
- rehabilitation facilities
- nursing homes
- assisted living facilities
- home health agencies
- mental asylums.
- The next opportunity is to work with people struggling with substance abuse. In that case, a social worker may work in environments such as:
- rehabilitation facilities
- private practices
- non-profit organizations
- for-profit organizations
- juvenile detention facilities.
- Working With Children – In this case, a social worker may work in one of the following facilities:–
This particular specialty of a social worker is highly important and delicate since they appear as liaisons between the children, the educators, and the family.
How to Become a Social Worker?
This type of articles that bring certain working positions up must contain a section in which it will be thoroughly explained how one can start a career in a particular working position. In order to help you bail out of all the details and requirements regarding the career of a social worker, we decided to divide this part of the article into a few steps that will guide the ones interested in this job position on their way to start the most successful career.
Step 1 – Do I Have the Skills Required?
Whatever working position may be at stake and whenever any person is deciding on their future career, they must be true to themselves first and to determine whether they have the basic skills needed in the position they are getting ready to opt for. Therefore, here are some of the skills required of a social worker:
- social skills
- communication skills
- being reliable
- being responsible
- being approachable and willing to connect to people
- being helpful
- diligence in surviving the risky situations
If you do have most of the skills mentioned above, you may consider yourself appropriate for the working position of a social worker. But, that is just the beginning. Social work is, as we have already mentioned a few times, a highly responsible and a highly versatile vocation. Therefore, one needs to undergo a range of preparations in order to be able to start their career in this working position. Therefore, the next steps will show you the way to the beginning of a successful career as a social worker.
Step 2 – More Pieces of Information Means More Opportunities
Whatever working position may be at stake, before anyone decides in which direction they want to set their career, they must first obtain a few pieces of information about what that working position entails, what the job outlook and the salary is and so on. In addition, one may also need to know whether that working position is needed in the county or area they would like to live in and whether it suits their lifestyle and preferences. When it comes to social worker jobs, most of them are full-time and require utmost dedication. Therefore, people who are not so patient and hardworking and who do not like to have deep interactions with other people should maybe think over their decision to become social workers. But, if such requirements reach your preferences, you must now make sure to obtain information about social work, such as where social workers are most needed. As we have suggested in the article, those would be:
- various medical facilities
- non-profit organizations
- the facilities that deal with substance abuse, such as prisons and juvenile detention facilities.
Step 3 –Aim for the Right Education Program
Whatever working position may be at stake, we all know that simply obtaining a certain set of skills is definitely far from enough to be able to take up that working position. Everyone needs to undergo an educational program, whether formal or non-formal education, to study on campus or finish an online course, in order to start his or her career in a certain vocation such as the one of a social worker. Therefore, we will make a list of the universities that are considered, by the surveys conducted by renowned organizations, to offer the best educational programs in the field of social work, as well as clinical and medical social work.
Here is the list of the universities that offer the best programs in social work:
- Kaplan University
- Johns Hopkins University
- Capella University
- Saint Joseph’s University
- The University of the Rockies
- Baker College Online
- Colorado State University Global
- North Central University
- Grand Canyon University
- Southern New Hampshire University
We have just listed the best university programs in social work. As you can see, some of the programs, such as the one offered by Baker College, are even available online. Therefore, you do not have to study on campus, which is an advantage, especially for foreign students. However, a bachelor’s degree is sometimes not enough. Thus, we will proceed to the next step in how to become a social worker.
Step 4 – Pick a Specialty
We have already mentioned in this article that the position of a social worker is a highly versatile one, offering many opportunities in choosing the specialty that suits you the most and that you find most interesting. Therefore, one must choose a specialty in social work since some of them require further education. Employees will not give you the position of a clinical social worker, for example, if you provide them with your Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work only. Bachelor’s Degree is satisfactory proof of one’s knowledge and expertise only on the entry-level of the career in social work.
Therefore, if you have decided that you wish to become a licensed clinical social worker or to work with people who undergo issues of substance abuse, you will definitely need to enroll in a program of further education according to the specialty you have chosen. Thus, we will guide you in choosing the right master’s program and obtaining the degree needed.
Step 5 – Aim for the Right Master’s Degree
As we have already mentioned in the previous step, one who aims to pick a specialty such as one of a licensed clinical social worker or any of the similar specialties will have to go for a master’s degree since it is required in the field mentioned.
In order to help the readers interested in such a specialty direct their career and reach the requirements, we will create a shortlist of the best master’s programs and programs of further education, according to the results of the surveys made by renowned organizations dedicated to social work.
Here is the list:
- USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
This school is among the most renowned institutions, or in other words, a household name, in the field of social work. Since this school offers an online and accredited master’s program in social work, it will be one of the best choices.
- Capella University
Capella University appeared on our list of bachelor’s programs. However, they offer a master’s program in social work that is available online and appears to be in CSWE candidacy status. So, if you are interested in broadening your education in social work and aiming for a more successful career, you may decide to enroll in a master’s program at Capella University.
- The Warden School of Social Service, located in Our Lady of the Lake University also offers an online master’s program in social work. What is interesting is that this program is designed for both the people who have their bachelor’s degree and those who do not.
- Simons College School of Social Work is located in Boston and it provides the attendants with an option to earn Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited master of social work. If you are interested in this option, you may find the following link useful: https://requestinfo.socialwork.simmons.edu/index5-d.html?experimentid=8664306376
If you desire to find more information on the master’s programs in social work in general, you may find the following link useful: https://socialworklicensure.org/social-worker-education/social-work-degrees/
Step 6 – Get a Proper License
Various working positions do not only require a person to obtain proper education, but also to engage in internship or apprenticeship, to gain some experience in the future work field and earn a license accordingly. This definitely applies to the working position of a social worker. In order to get employed, a social worker must provide employees with a working license, especially in certain specialties such as clinical social work.
In order to become a clinical social worker or a medical social worker, you must complete more than a determined number of hours in a social work practicum, which is required for bachelor’s degree students.
There are four levels of social work:
- Advanced Generalist
All of the ones mentioned require a certain amount of practical work. When the specialties of the licensed clinical social worker and medical social worker, that have the most serious requirements, are at stake, the people engaged in them need to earn MSW and to complete the requirement for two years of work experience, either supervised or direct clinical. Since various states and jurisdictions may have various requirements when it comes to social work jobs, one is advised to graduate from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Step 7 – Never Cease to Broaden Your Knowledge and Experience
Practice makes perfect, or so they say. Therefore, if you have completed all the previous steps successfully, the last one is not the least. A person engaged in a social work job should never cease to broaden his or her knowledge and to gain more experience in the field. The more you work the more skillful and successful you will get, that is the rule of engagement. In addition to that, always keep in touch with the colleagues who are more experienced, in order to pick some tricks of the trade from them. One of the most useful things in every career is to be open to cooperate with people from your vocation and the similar occupations.
Social Worker Degree
When it comes to degree and certification of a social worker, we have pretty much covered that topic among the steps we have been through, especially steps four, five and six. However, emphasizing some crucial information will by no means hurt in this case.
Therefore, here is the list of the degrees one may earn in the field of social work:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
- Master’s Degree:
- in Social Work
- in Clinical Social Work
- in Medical Social Work
- Ph.D. in Social Work (and the specialties mentioned above)
In addition to those degrees, one may also earn various certificates in order to become an accredited social worker, such as:
- The Certificate Issued by CSWE (Council on Social Work Education)
Social workers can also obtain membership in the National Association of Social Worker Boards.
How Much Do Social Workers Earn?
When it comes to the salary of social workers, according to the results of the research conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of a social worker reaches the amount of approximately $41,820. For mental health and substance abuse workers, it reaches $44,840, whereas for the child, family, and schools social workers it reaches $46,270 and when it comes to healthcare social workers, it reaches $56,200.
Social Worker Jobs – Job Outlook
We have already mentioned a few specialties and social workers jobs. Thus, we will just create a shortlist:
- Child Welfare Social Workers
- Direct-Service Social Worker
- Gerontology Social Worker
- Medical or Public Health Social Worker
- Clinical Social Worker
- Substance Abuse Social Worker
- Mental Health Social Worker
When it comes to similar occupations, one of an occupational therapist is slightly similar to the vocation of a social worker.
We hope that this article was helpful to both the ones simply interested in social work and the ones who see it as their future job opportunity.