Being a social worker is undoubtedly one of the most challenging jobs there is, that’s why only a few are considering this career option. If you go out there and ask students what they want to become, the common answer that you’ll receive is that they want to be an accountant, an expert in payroll services, a scientist, or a business owner. It’s so rare to find students who will say that they want to be a social worker. But while it’s considered a challenging career, being a social worker is also considered one of the most rewarding professions out there. If you’re someone who has a passion in helping other people, then this job might be the right career choice for you. In this post, you will learn how to start your career in the social work field.
What is a social worker?
Social workers are individuals who help people deal with various issues in their lives. They may help them by giving them advice, support, and encouragement, and/or assisting them to get access to the service they need, such as health care, child care, food stamps, and many others. Depending on their specialty or work duties, social workers may work with children, homeless people, people with disabilities, and patients with serious illness or injuries. Social workers can also work in a variety of environment, including in school, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, government agencies, and correctional facilities.
To become a social worker, you would need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or related studies, such as psychology and sociology. These programs usually take 4 years to complete, which can equip you with skills that are necessary for the profession that you’re pursuing, including assisting patients with disabilities, dealing with people with mental illness, and taking care of children who are victims of child abuse. Once you graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work, you will be eligible to apply for internships and other entry-level working positions to get some experience.
But of course, if you want to develop your knowledge and obtain a better position in the field, you would need to further your education by taking a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Programs like these usually take 2 years of full-time study to complete, and prepare students for an advanced practice in the field. Getting a master’s degree also gives you an opportunity to specialize; you may choose to focus on child care, mental health, adults and retirees, and people with disabilities.
Keep in mind that before you can practice as a social worker, anywhere in the U.S., you are required first to be certified or licensed. The requirements for this may vary from state to state, so check your local department what you should need to apply for licensing exams. Also, be aware that some states require you to get continuing education to maintain your licensure; so familiarize yourself with state regulations before you begin your practice.
Get Your First Job
While the process may seem very long, you’ll eventually complete your education, get your license, and start your career as a social worker. But of course, you should be aware that in addition to your degree and license, prospective employers will usually require you to meet certain qualifications for you to get considered. These things may vary from employers to employers, but to give you an idea, here are some qualifications that you would need to have when applying for a social work position:
- Excellent communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Good time manage and organizational skills
- Patience, understanding, and empathy
- Ability to work in a team
- Computer and administrative skills