How to become a social worker

How to Become a Social Worker

Nowadays we hear about social work quite often, the goal of equality and proper humane living for everyone being on the frontlines of news outlets, general media, and independent individuals alike. But what does social work encompass? 

Social work is a career where the professionals in this field aim to make the lives and well-being of communities better overall.

This means social workers work with all types of communities that vary in size, but tend to focus on the oppressed, vulnerable, and less fortunate.

The goal of this area of industry is to promote social change and development, as well as empower the people and communities.

They do this through understanding human development and behavior, as well as cultural, social, and economic aspects of families and institutions. 

Social workers working on various social issues have made tons of changes so far.

To date, their efforts have reduced stigma on mental health, enforced child abuse and neglect prevention, civil rights, insurance on unemployment, medical aid, worker’s compensation, and the list keep going. 

How Do You Become a Social Worker?

Let’s discuss social worker job prospects.

The first thing to start your journey into social work is to learn more about the profession while also analyzing your aptitude for it.

You can do this by shadowing a licensed social worker for a period of time, researching online or at the library, joining online groups, or talking to recruiters. 

As for your ability, it is preferred if social workers are extremely compassionate with strong empathy for others, have good interpersonal and listening abilities, proper problem-solving skills, as well as developed organizational and time-management skills.

You also have the option of finishing a degree in Bachelor of Social Work, finishing a program called Master of Social Work after your bachelor’s, or if you wish to pursue a clinical/medical route, you must also complete a course for licensed clinical social work.

There are many different areas in social work, meaning it will take some focused self-assessment to decide on one.

It isn’t necessary to pick one immediately though.

The main different areas are child and family, clinical, health care, medical, mental health and substance abuse, hospice and palliative care, geriatric, and lastly, school social workers.

When it comes to choosing the right path for you, you must reflect on where you envision your career going in the future, as well as your interests and unique abilities.

Ask yourself whether diversity and culture are common drivers in your life, whether you already spend a lot of your time with children and adolescents.

Do you want to work in the military, or join a non-profit? It is up to you to decide where you think you will succeed the most. 

Your role as a social worker will depend on the area of expertise you choose, so let’s break those down.

If you decide to become a child, family, and school social worker, your task will be to help children, school staff, and families resolve their problems regarding placing children in foster care, guiding them to the adequate resources for better care and raising of children, as well as working with students and teachers in everything.

Being a medical or a public health social worker means helping chronically or seriously ill individuals access public resources to aid them.

These resources include in-home nursing care, client support, and helping coordinate their healthcare services.

As a mental health and substance abuse social worker, your job is to support individuals with mental health or substance abuse problems.

You do this through intervention, aid in finding financially accessible rehabilitative programs, or mental healthcare.

Preventative programs are also widely used.

Military social workers collaborate with individuals working in the armed forces including their families to aid in the unique challenges they may face, for example, counseling and support to ease their ability to resolve any challenge they may face in working active-duty or as civilian clients.

Community social workers work with groups of people instead of individuals.

Your duty is to assess a group as a whole and bring adequate measures for the betterment of the community in question, through new programs or work and resource allocation. 

Justice and corrections workers function in courts, police departments, correctional facilities, and rape crisis centers.

In this field, you need to be a mental health professional advocating for custody, parole and parental rights, reproduction rights, and working with inmates to coordinate communication with their families, etc. 

There are tons of other specialized fields to choose from, so focus on what you would like to do. 

As for legally becoming one, you must take a state or country licensing exam.

You must know the requirements depending on your area, including knowing what bachelor’s degree you will need for the area of expertise you wish to pursue. 

To achieve a job in social work, you must have an accredited degree through the Council on Social Work Education or a similar equivalent for your license. 

Social work also includes advocacy, focusing on social change through the enabling of larger groups to alleviate their social and economic situation.

Examples of this would be advocating for women’s reproduction rights, trans rights, and so on.

You may be wondering about the salary of a social worker, but it truly depends on the field and the education achieved.

The average yearly wage for a social worker was around $50,000 US. 

Why choose social work?

The answer is simple, if you are looking for a career that has meaning, action, strength through diversity, satisfaction from helping others, and is full of options, it is for you.

With social work, you are living in the name of other people, helping them through struggles others wouldn’t help them with.