10 Things You Can Do With a Degree in Social Work
One of the rapidly growing fields in the world is social work. It promises a lot of challenges and experiences you would be glad to encounter. As one of the jobs whose employees record high job satisfaction, it is one place everyone would want to be.
Social workers do not just sprout up from nowhere and assume their duties. They undergo years of training and education. This involves, at least, earning a bachelors degree from an accredited institution.
To become a social worker, it would be great if you have previous work experience in areas relating to social work. To easily gain your experience, looking around for a paid job or voluntary tasks in any community care center or charity organization that is involved with children, vulnerable adults, or youths could be the solution.
You have to understand that your role is going to require a mountain of empathy due to the nature of the people involved. You must have a genuine desire to impact lives and improve the quality of their well-being. Doing this will be very helpful in the lives of your clients.
Basic Requirements to Become a Social Worker
For those looking to promote the health and development of vulnerable members of society, becoming a social worker could be the license you need. The following steps would help you navigate the process to launch your career in social work.
- Complete a bachelor’s degree: It is good to pursue your BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) in your undergraduate studies if social work is your goal.
- Obtain a master’s degree in social work: It is necessary to pursue your Master’s in Social Work to obtain your license. Here, you would need a BSW to further. However, with the first degree in related fields like psychology, sociology, political science, human development, early childhood development, peace, and social justice, among others, you can still go for your master’s degree. While you could get a job with a bachelor’s degree, pursuing your master’s will give you more flexible career options as well as more opportunities for financial growth.
- Complete your internship: The internship program helps you to put into practice, what you have learned and also learn more about social work from experienced social workers.
- Apply for your license: Obtaining licensure is one way to advance in your career, and prove your credibility in the field.
- Select a career in social work: There are different career options in social work. You can make a choice based on your passion and experience.
- Advance your practice through continued learning: There is no ending to acquiring knowledge. Doing this before renewing each licensure will help you to keep abreast with the current trends in the field.
Your degree as a social worker is meant to equip you with practical skills to carry out your professional duties. You could also gain many skills through placements carried out while at school or after your program.
Above all, you need to bear in mind that your job is a stressful and highly emotional one. This is why strong professional skills are very necessary for you to develop in order to manage tough situations and handle difficult clients. You are going to address a range of needs and certain skills are non-negotiable. You must possess them.
Some of the transferable skills you need include:
- Communication skills: Due to the nature of your job, you need communication skills to be able to relate well with your employers and clients. You will need to understand them clearly in order to act according to their needs.
- Analytic and problem-solving skills: There are times you meet people who cannot express themselves due to their vulnerability. You would put your intuition at work to recognize and analyze the situation so as to get to solve their problems, even without their uttering any word to you. If possible, you might find yourself researching some practical and innovative methods to help your client solve their problems.
- Conflict or case management: In carrying out your duty, conflicts may arise. You do not need to panic or find ways to jump the fence. This is why you need to build conflict management skills so as to know how to put the situation under control. With strong conflict management skills, you would be able to facilitate communication at all levels of interactions.
- Counseling: Counselling is a vital skill you need because your clients have diverse issues that only you can solve. You could help them cope with life issues, set realistic goals, and make sure they meet them.
- Time management: Managing your time is non-negotiable. You need to understand your duties and spread your time to accommodate every role. You are not expected to run helter-skelter due to lack of time. Your scale of preference should be such that you tackle the urgent situation immediately and look into frivolous ones at a time when you have less work to do.
- Advocacy: Social work requires that you represent your clients and ensure they have access to the care and resources necessary for their well-being. You would act as a liaison between your clients and different sources of aids, ensuring their rights are not trampled upon.
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Your typical employers as a social worker are going to revolve around the children and vulnerable members of society. However, the following settings could provide great opportunities for you to showcase your skills.
- Correction homes
- Children homes
- Nursing homes
- Charities or voluntary organisations
- Healthcare institutions
- Primary care trust.
You know what? You can actually do freelance work for agencies involved in social work. You could also work as an independent practitioner in social work settings.
Careers Available to Social Workers
Social workers could be found in different work settings like hospitals, schools, correction homes, children’s homes, and others. You would find yourself working with children, victims of drug abuse, elderly people, mentally retarded people, or maybe, a whole community.
There are a wide array of jobs available to social workers. You can make your choice based on your preferences, of which finding out more about some of the numerous areas of specialization and what they entail could be very helpful. That is not all. You need to find out about their future trends to know if you would still be in a job in the next couple of years.
The truth is that there would always be people with diverse needs where skilled social workers could be the only solution. People undergo challenging situations and empathetic individuals would be very much needed. As industries and fields outside the traditional social work begin to tap into their resources, there may be need for more job openings in the future that are yet to be discovered now.
Here’s what I mean:
- Counselor: Counseling is all about listening to people and helping them. you should be able to create a safe and trusting environment where your clients would feel free to confide in you. Encouraging them to discuss their emotional needs, while empathizing with them would be of great importance. Relationship building and communication skills would help you scale through as a counselor. You will also provide structured and realistic ways to handle issues. This could take place in one-on-one or group sessions.
- Education consultant: An education consultant is a major contact when you need to assist parents, students, or organizations with their educational needs. Your duties also include helping with planning curriculums or helping individuals with some issues in their schools. Assisting parents and students in choosing the right school, as well as matching students with special educational needs with suitable programmes are also part of your duty. This is a rewarding job because you are going to help in shaping the academic lives of the members of society. You could work with schools on a regular 9 – 5 job or be involved in weekend and evening programmes.
- Community development worker: You will work in a non-profit organization or a government agency and are likely to liaise between the organization and members of the community. You would engage with the community members and bring out a social change by helping them to live a positive life. You are going to meet issues surrounding homelessness and unemployment. Developing and implementing policies that would help in solving issues would be of help. Creating awareness of issues within the community is also part of your duty.
- Equality diversion and inclusion officer: You will cover a variety of cases surrounding race, religion, sex, gender, age, disability, as well as sexual orientation. You would make sure that those in minority groups are not marginalized. You will help in raising awareness against discrimination, promoting fair play and equity. Writing assessments and reports, while helping the community or organizations develop policies to run effectively will be highly needed.
- Health administrator: Working in a hospital environment is not new to the social worker. You are going to find yourself working with doctors, nurses, and patients. You would ensure their lives are smoothly run. Not just the people, you will also ensure that the healthcare equipment is in good condition. The organization, care, and coordination are required of you as you would manage different departments and services. Here, everyone, and everything is your responsibility.
- Detective: Detectives have been envisioned to be doing thrill-seeking jobs as found in movies. This may not always be the case in real-life scenarios. However, you need to devise means in carrying out investigations strategically, conduct interviews, and be involved in search operations. You will need to understand how communities function and look for ways to deal with different types of people. Not only that. You would write reports and keep accurate evidence on the investigations carried out as they may be required in the court.
- Substance abuse counselor: A substance abuse counselor helps those who struggle with addictions. Addiction is very dangerous, not only in the life of the victim but people surrounding him or her. You will work with these victims, helping them through the dark spiral, while coming up with treatments that would tackle the issue. In the process of carrying out this duty, addressing the reasons for the addiction would help them to snap out of their situation, as well as get back on a positive track.
- Children and family: A social worker focuses on helping vulnerable children who are at risk as a result of different circumstances. Risk management, conflict management, and counseling skills would be applied here in order to improve the quality of your client’s home or the school you work in.
- Mental health. You would examine emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders in your patients in order to help them develop better-coping strategies. You would assess factors that led to or affect your client’s conditions such as trauma, depression, loss of loved ones or job, grief, addiction problems, health problems, and so on. This will help you to facilitate the right treatment and help your client get back on track.
- Gerontological social worker: Here, you would work with elderly people and their families. Providing information and guidance on their healthcare, meal plan, living facilities, potential health issues, and so on. You will need to help them make the right adjustment to lifestyle and adjust where necessary.
Certifications and Licenses
As a social worker, you need licensing or certifications in order to carry out your job professionally. It may vary from state to state, though there may be statutory requirements across all states. You need to find out what is involved.
In case you’ve been wondering if earning a degree in social work is worth it, you might have to make up your mind now because you are already on the right track.