How To Become A Social Worker – Social work is the professional practice of helping people improve their individual and collective well-being by maximizing personal skills and community resources. It is based on the principles of human rights, social justice and mutual responsibility. Social workers require a deep understanding of human behavior and development as well as the functions of social, cultural and economic institutions. Social work can be used by individuals, families, non-family groups, organizations and even entire communities.
Social workers can function as part of a team or provide services individually. The type of services provided will largely depend on the environment in which they operate, as well as whether they work in private practice or in public offices. For example, social workers may work in places such as:
How To Become A Social Worker
Social workers play a key role in mental health around the world. In the US, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) reports that most mental health services offered in the US are provided by social workers. According to NASW, of all mental health professionals in the country, 60% are clinically trained social workers, 23% are psychologists, 10% are psychiatrists, and 5% are psychiatric nurses.
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Clinical social workers are trained to educate people about their mental health experiences and help them reduce, eliminate or manage sources of distress that affect their daily lives. They help adults and children solve problems such as:
Social workers can provide assistance in facilitating personal development and development of people at risk, in solving serious family problems and in implementing important organizational programs.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of people employed as social workers in the United States is expected to increase from 649,300 in 2014 to 724,100 in 2024 – an estimated growth rate of 12%. By comparison, the average growth rate for all US jobs is 7%.
However, BLS assumes that there will be differences in employment growth among people performing different types of social work. For example, the number of social workers specializing in children, families and schools is expected to increase by 6%; a 19% increase in the number of social workers in the health sector is expected; The number of social workers dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues is expected to increase by 19%; and all other social worker fields are projected to grow by 4% from 2014 to 2024.
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In 2014, social workers earned an average of $45,500. The top 10% earned over $75,850 and the bottom 10% earning less than $28,240. The median salary for child, family, and school social workers was $42,120; health care social workers earned $51,930; mental health and substance abuse social workers earned $41,380; and all other social workers earned an average annual salary of $59,100.
Most entry-level social work positions require applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) being the typical requirement. The BSW study program educates people in the basic principles of human behavior, population diversity, ethics and social policy. Internships or supervised fieldwork are a typical requirement for BSW programs.
A bachelor’s degree in social work can prepare individuals for a career as a mental health or case assistant. However, some institutions may choose to hire people who have earned degrees in closely related fields, such as sociology, political science, or psychology.
More advanced social work positions may require applicants to earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. Candidates do not need to obtain a BSW degree before applying as students with degrees in fields such as psychology, sociology, economics and political science may be admitted. However, BSW applicants may be allowed to complete their master’s studies in less time. Depending on the institution, there may also be opportunities to conduct MSW online. Master’s degree programs help students improve their clinical judgment and management skills in their chosen specialty. A typical requirement for successful completion of most master’s degree programs is an internship or supervised practice. Some educational institutions also offer PhD programs in social work. In these cases, interested individuals may opt for a PhD or a Doctorate in Social Work (DSW).
How To Become An Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
While most states require non-clinical social worker licensing, all states require clinical social worker licensing. However, since the exact requirements for obtaining a license vary from state to state, it is recommended that applicants contact the Association of Social Work Boards for more information on what is required to obtain a license in their state.
There are many social work organizations in the United States where qualified individuals can seek employment or volunteer opportunities. Some of them include:
If you are considering becoming a social worker, you can start by learning all about the field. Some ways to find out more about what social workers do include searching the internet, visiting your local library, talking to a college recruiter, or watching a licensed social worker for a day. Then test your professional skills. An effective social worker typically has a high level of compassion and empathy, strong interpersonal and listening skills, well-developed organizational and problem-solving skills, and good time management. While it is not necessary to decide on an area of interest right away, it can be helpful to explore different specialties within social work. Some of them include:
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When choosing a social work program, it can be helpful to visualize your career path. Want to work at a hospital, public school or non-profit organization? Do you see yourself more in advocacy or policy change, mental health care, private practice or the military? The right program for you will depend on the path you choose. For example, if you are interested in clinical work, a program with a clinical concentration may be the best fit. Most entry-level positions will require a bachelor’s degree in social work, although some will accept a related field such as psychology or sociology. A master’s degree is required to work in the clinical field. In some states, social workers with a bachelor’s degree can be licensed, but most require a master’s degree. In addition to licensing requirements, there are other benefits to earning a social work degree. Master’s level social workers (MSW) often have higher salaries and greater career opportunities.
Once you’ve decided on a program and school, fully understanding and adhering to the admissions requirements can make you a competitive candidate. You will need letters of recommendation from people who have known you for at least six months and can easily talk about your skills and qualities. Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate your commitment and willingness to social work. Many human services agencies have opportunities to gain valuable experience as volunteers. Some students interested in social work choose to volunteer with AmeriCorps, a national community organization that provides small scholarships and educational rewards in exchange for service.
An accredited bachelor’s degree in social work is not required for admission to a postgraduate program in social work. Any bachelor’s degree may be sufficient, but a related field may be preferred. The Directory of Council for Education in Social Work accredited social work programs can be viewed here.
Education can be an expensive investment. Considering financial aid options well in advance of starting a program can help put your finances in order. You may qualify for scholarships, scholarships or student loans, and some employers may even provide study assistance. The government also has a student loan forgiveness program for people working in the public service.
How To Become A Social Worker?
In most cases, you will need to work under board-approved supervision for two to three years or 3,000 hours after graduation before applying for a state license. After earning a master’s degree, all states require some form of experience for independent clinical licensure if you intend to eventually work in private practice. Many states also require a period of supervised work in non-clinical positions, such as administrative work. You may need to check your state’s licensing requirements and accepted program to make sure what your requirements will be.
If you want to become a licensed social worker, the key step is to know the licensing requirements in your state. Many jurisdictions have done so in the past
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