Social work is one of the most satisfying careers in the world. You get to work with different communities, help them, educate them, and more. You’ll see that social work is one of the top careers in the U.S and is always among the top jobs. The benefits of social work are pretty obvious. That is the reason why a lot of people opt for it.
The only thing that they don’t understand is how to go about becoming a social worker. There are many types of social work, and you have to choose your specialty. You also have to complete your education and acquire your license before you can start to practice. The term ‘social work’ is a broad term, and there are quite a few types of social work that you can do. When you get down to it, all these social work types are related to helping people, enhancing their quality of life, and more. But it is never the same. You can be doing one thing one day, and another day you can be doing something else. You could help some organization with crisis management or assist a family in adjusting to the U.S. after migration and everything in between.
Social workers work at all levels of the government. They work at the federal level, state level, and even local level. Their responsibilities include:
- Recommending resources
- Case management
- Legislative advocacy
- Community organization
- Reviewing and implementing policies
- Helping people with Social Security or welfare
Depending on what specialty you choose, your path to becoming a social worker might change a little. But you must have a degree and a license.
If you want to become a social worker, you need some degree. It could be a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare (BASW). Most people tend to get a master’s degree before going for it. You can easily opt for a CSWE online MSW (Masters in Social Work) and complete it to start your incredible social work journey. If you are going for a job involving clinical work, you will need a master’s degree. Suppose you want to teach other social workers. In that case, you will need a doctorate like a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in social work.
Getting A License
No matter what degree you get, you cannot become a social worker anywhere in the United States without a proper license. Depending on the state where you want to work, the requirements change, ensuring that you learn all about the requirements earlier. You will need to work under a supervisor for some time, and you will also be required to pass a written exam.
For example, in California, you need to have an MSW degree from an accredited university and some required courses and need around 3000 hours of work under a licensed supervisor. When you go for the license, they will also check your past to see if there is any criminal activity or not. Once you have fulfilled all the license requirements, you will be the proud owner of your social worker’s license.
One thing that you have to remember that some states have a continuing education requirement. If you want to keep your license, you will have to be open to learning. This way, you stay up to date on all the relevant practices and use them whenever you need to.
Your First Social Worker Job
So, you have got your MSW degree, you have worked with your supervisor, and now you are ready to step out into the field. One of the things that you must do is to network with other like-minded people. You will meet a lot of social workers while you are doing your internship with the supervisor. You can also ask for your supervisor’s help in looking for a job. Most of the time, they will recommend the jobs that they think will be right for you.
You can also go to a professional association for guidance. There is the National Association of Social Workers and more. If you are looking for an organization that caters to your specialty, you can go for that too. Various organizations work in specific fields like the American Clinical Social Work Organization or else the School Social Work Association of America, and more. There is no shortage of such organizations, and they help new social workers as much as possible.
You can also search for jobs online, no matter where they are from, and start building a list of skills that employers are mostly looking for. Make sure that you mention those skills on your resume when you apply for any position. These skills are, among others, communications, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, problem-solving, and more.
Social work is a very satisfying field. Most people get into it to help others in their communities, raise their quality of life, remove any problems they face, and light their way. You can do that too. Just keep the steps mentioned above in mind, and you will be out there in no time, spreading joy and happiness.