The practice of Social Work involves understanding individual human behavior, how society functions, and the ability to connect with people to find solutions to problems. Many describe the field as a blend of Psychology, Sociology, and Counseling. Social Workers assist people with solving problems in their daily lives. These professionals work across multiple industries and in a range of settings. Social Work is a practice-based profession that promotes social change and the empowerment of individuals and communities
Why Is Social Work Important?
Social Workers help individuals overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life. A career in Social Work can be challenging at times. But, 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 connect individuals with the resources they need. For instance, if a student has trouble, their School Social Worker will help them find a tutor and learning disability expert. Many of these people, if not most, would not be able to obtain these vital resources on their own.
What Does Social Work Mean To Social Workers?
Social Workers assist people with solving problems in their daily lives. Therefore, all Social Workers commit to the same common ideas.
- social and economic justice for all community members
- assistance for anyone who needs it, regardless of background
- abiding by the professional code of ethics
- promote social welfare for all
What Do Social Workers Do?
A day in a Social Worker’s life can vary dramatically based on the industry, organization, and general focus. Social work professionals assess client support networks, strengths, situations, and overall needs to define goals. They also help clients adjust to significant challenges or changes in their lives like unemployment, divorce, illness, or death. Additionally, Social Workers regularly refer, research, and advocate for community resources like healthcare, childcare, and food stamps.
It is not uncommon for a Social Worker to respond to a mental health crisis or a child abuse emergency. They later follow-up with clients to determine if the situation has improved. Also, they can provide psychotherapy services while creating and assessing programs to ensure basic human needs are met. While performing all or most of these functions, a Social Worker must maintain records and files of every client that passes through their office.
Where Are Social Workers Employed?
Social Workers find employment in a wide range of industries and at private and public companies. Some of the most common places of work include private practices, community development corporations, settlement homes, hospitals, human service and child welfare agencies, schools, and mental health clinics. Additionally, you can find Social Workers in correctional facilities, police departments, rape crisis centers, courts, refugee camps, orphanages, policy and planning departments, politics, and research functions.
Although many work in offices, Social Work is not confined to an office setting working nine to five. Many work in the field and travel to clients. Others work nights or weekends. As a result, 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.
Child, Family, and School Social Work
Social Workers in this group do several 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.
Medical Social Work
Social Workers in healthcare settings help the sick, whether they are temporarily ill or have a chronic condition. They advise these clients and their families on how to handle emotionally and cope with their illness. They also help find valuable services such as nursing care or nutritional aid.
Clinical Social Work
The field of mental health social work is also known as Clinical Social Work. Employees of this area help people who struggle with mental illness, behavior problems, and 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 essential life skills like dealing with anger.
What are the Required Qualifications To Become a Social Worker?
If you are interested in this field, then there are common steps to becoming a Social Worker.
1. Complete a Social Work Degree
2. Complete Fieldwork Requirements
Fieldwork is like an internship where you engage in real-world projects under the supervision of a licensed social worker. During this experience, you want to learn and observe from those currently in the field and leave the fieldwork with an excellent understanding of various processes and how to manage specific situations.
3. Obtain State Licensure
Applying for state licensure is the best way to demonstrate your credibility in the field, strengthen your expertise, and advance your learning. Although not every position requires a license, you will likely need one when working with individuals. To be licensed, you must pass one of the ASWB examinations.
4. Select a Career Path
Social workers have many career paths, including clinical, across, medical, and school, depending on which area you intend to focus.
5. Engage in Continued Learning
The National Association of Social Workers maintains that social workers should engage in 48-hours of continued learning before every licensure renewal. While continuing education varies, some options include formally organized learning events, individual professional activities, and professional meetings.
What Is The Employment Outlook For Social Workers?
In 2020, there were 715,600 Social Worker jobs in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase of twelve percent (12%) from 2020 to 2030. So, it is an excellent time to jump on board in this field, especially if you enjoy helping others and impacting the community. The BLS predicts over 78,000 job openings each year for Social Workers in the US.
The average yearly salary for Social Workers in May 2020 was $51,760. Social Worker salaries ranged from $33,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $85,820. Due to the wide range of social work jobs, pay rates vary a good deal. Though some are private practitioners, a majority of Social Workers work for healthcare or government agencies.