Social Work As A Career

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What is Social work?

Social workers (SW) are people who like to help people and communities and empower them to find solutions to life’s problems.

What do social workers do?

They work in a number of different settings such as hospitals, schools, community organizations, rehabilitation centers, military bases and their hospitals. They also work in government agencies which includes child welfare and departments of health services.Some social workers work in community, government and advocacy groups to address and reduce problems of poverty and social injustice on a systems level by breaking down barriers and drive reform.Thus, they advocate for people who need their help. The social workers play an important role in betterment of the society

There are two types of social workers; direct SW and clinical SW. The first type works and interacts with the community, while the second type helps people in clinical settings.
They serve people of all ages. Children, older adults, people with disabilities, patients with chronic, acute or terminal diagnoses and people struggling with mental illness or addiction.
They work directly with individuals, couples, families and small groups. They are involved in different types of work as follows:

  • They identify people who require help, such as children struggling with problems such as disability, educational problems, child abuse, poverty or mental illness.
  • They counsel people to manage challenges in their lives such as unemployment, illness, trauma or family problems.
  • They assess client’s needs and develop their strengths by planning to support the individuals and their families.
  • They help them by providing government help in form of food assistance, child care and medical care.
  • They define issues, collect and assess data, develop treatment plans and monitor outcomes.

To give few examples of the different work profiles

  • Clinical social worker (CSW):
    These professionals diagnose and treat various health conditions. They work in collaboration with doctors to provide best medical help to the needy patients. They provide individual and family therapy, couple counselling and group treatment.
  • Child and Family social worker:
    These workers work to support children by providing common services such as basic education, job placement, medical help, family therapy and financial support.
  • Community social worker:
    They work towards improving community or neighborhood by working closely with community leaders and residents to understand their problems by undertaking surveys, analyzing their neighborhoods and devise plans with an objective to solve problems and improve quality of life.

The work of social worker is varied since they serve people young and old, in a number of different settings. They help people to overcome challenges of life, strive for social justice and help them improve their lives.

Skills required in social worker

During process of education and while working as interns, they have to develop certain skills. The foremost important thing to become successful social worker is to like people and have an urge to work for their betterment. They need to be patient, show empathy and have good communication skills, good leadership qualities, be good listener. Further they need to be compassionate, resourceful, have high ethical standards and be tenacious. Many a times they need to be thick skinned while facing challenges. Besides they should be able to go through the technically and lengthy sets of regulations and paperwork. Since they have to meet many clients per day hence they should be able to manage time. Having right skill sets makes one effective worker as well as gives increased salaries and better positions.

How to become a Social worker

The required starting education is three to four year bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) which gives an entry level in social service work positions. After BSW one can volunteer to work at different places as an intern. Getting an advanced degree such as Masters in social work (MSW) is considered important, since it offers both classroom training and field work to ensure that students are properly prepared for positions in the field. In addition, many employers prefer MSW for jobs. Generally, before taking up a job one works under a supervisor to understand social work and tactics required to handle the challenges in this field. In European and US countries,before MSW start working, they are required to be licensed or certified, hence they need to clear the state level exam. With MSW degree students can get into supervisory roles. After MSW, some even pursue PhD and perform research in a specific social service topic. These research scholars come up with theories and solutions to solve the problem for improving life of people.

Income earned

Income of social workers varies depending on the nature of work, organization of employment and which place (city or countryside) they are employed. In the beginning it is important to gain experience and become skillful in problem solving. More the years of experience, there is proportional increase in the salary. Overall, they get paid well although they are not rich in salaries.

Job prospects

The job prospects for this field are good. Different types of social workers are required such
Clinical social worker (CSW), Psychiatric social worker, Child and Family social worker, Healthcare social worker, Medical social worker, Geriatric social worker, Substance Use social worker, Public Policy social worker, Administrative social worker, Research social worker. Due to their varied roles there is always need of social workers. Thus, there has always been growth in this field. In future too there will be increase in the job opportunities in this field.

Why become a social worker?

There are many reasons why one chooses to become a social worker. A person just likes to work and serve people and helps them solve their different problems. Some people chose this as a career since in past they have been helped by a good social worker to overcome their problems and they would like to help others too. At times the social injustice meted to a community drives a person to take up social service.

Overall this is one of the profession which offers diversity, meaning and satisfaction of work to a person who likes to work for the betterment of society.

Find Your State Licensing Requirements

Whether you need to complete an internship or a doctoral degree, licensing requirements may vary from state to state. Click name of state below to find licensing requirement for that particular state.

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