What Is Social Work?

socialwork def To put it shortly, social workers help individuals overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life. Social work can be tough at times, but it is absolutely vital for a community’s well-being. After all, social workers have a direct influence in shaping people’s lives for the better. Workers in this field interact with people from all walks of life, be it the homeless, sick, troubled, or even students. They help connect or create invaluable resources for individuals in need of assistance. For instance, if a student is having trouble, their social worker will help them find a tutor and/or learning disability expert. Many of these people, if not most, would not be able to obtain these vital resources on their own.

Social work is not necessarily confined to an office working nine to five, many are out “in the field”, others work nights or weekends. There is a lot of variety in the type of work available for social workers. Still, in general their work falls under three main categories. The first is child/family/school social work. Individuals in this group do a number of different tasks. Some act as teachers, helping parents learn to give better childcare or eldercare. Others help children find new homes, including foster care and adoption. Many work at schools, helping students and teachers with learning issues, social troubles, or behavioral problems. Another group is medical/health workers. These social workers help the sick, be they temporarily ill or with a chronic condition. They advise the ill and their families on how to handle and cope with their problem. They also help find useful services such as nursing care or a nutritional aid. Third, there is the field of mental health and addiction social work. This is also known as clinical social work. Employees of this area help people who struggle with mental illness and/or addiction problems. They can provide talk therapy to help their clients work through their struggles. Some reach out to the general community, teaching classes on important life skills not normally taught in a class, such as dealing with anger.

What are the Required Qualifications?

In order to become a social worker, potential employees must have at least a four-year college degree. Their focus of study must be either specifically social work or something similar, such as psychology or sociology. In some cases a master’s degree, or even a doctorate, may be needed.

After completion of a degree, social workers need to be properly certified by their state government. This may mean obtaining a license, certificate, or registration as each state has its own set of rules.

What is the Employment Outlook for Social Workers?

As of 2008, the average yearly income for social work was around $43,000. It should be noted that this is a very rough estimate. Due to the wide range of social work out there, pay rates vary a good deal. Social workers can make anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 a year. Though some are private practitioners, approximately 80% of social workers are employed in healthcare or by a government agency. It is expected that through 2018, social work will grow at an above average rate, especially for jobs involved with elderly care. Job competition can be quite strong in urban areas, while rural locations typically have more job openings