When you decide to follow a career in social work, you will be entering a profession that, at its heart, aims to help people have better lives. Whichever direction you take, you will be taking on a role that provides meaning and satisfaction throughout your working life.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of social workers is projected to grow by approximately 9 percent between 2021 and 2031, faster than the average for all occupations, with about 74,700 openings each year, on average over those ten years.
Social workers focus on individuals and their environment, dealing with factors that can impact a person’s life, and assisting every age and background.
Social workers can be found in many organizations, according to socialworkers.org, such as working with older adults, linking them with relevant services, and helping them to live independently, maximizing their quality of life. You could be dealing with the psychological, social, and economic aspects of their day-to-day life in order to offer the right support.
Working within child welfare means you will be assisting some of the most vulnerable children, young adults, and their families within society to live in safe and nurturing environments. There will also be instances when support needs to be given to those who are experiencing neglect or abuse to connect them with the correct services.
You could be helping parents of children with developmental disabilities around issues such as helping them to understand their legal rights, or you could be involved in advocacy and community organizing, where you would be championing the rights of people and their communities with the overall goal of improvement, equality, and social justice.
Working as a social worker within healthcare facilities would enable you to help people deal with the factors that affect their health and well-being in direct services, planning, administration, or research.
There are also opportunities to work within the justice system in areas including courts, police departments, and correctional facilities, as a clinical social work professional within mental health services, assisting individuals in dealing with their recovery from substance abuse and Occupational and Employee Assistance Programs.
Wherever you decide to work, whether it be within public welfare, the school system, or politics, there are long-term prospects for a rewarding career.
Characteristics of a good social worker
Social work is about people, so some of the main soft skills that make a good social worker are to do with communication. You must be able to talk to the people you are helping, who will be from a range of backgrounds and ages, as well as colleagues, other organizations, and agencies. Listening, mirroring, and actively showing understanding, as well as professionalism, will ensure your interactions, some of which may be quite difficult, are effective.
Empathy is another beneficial tool for anyone working within the industry. Understanding what others experience in some way can help improve relatability with the people you are dealing with and may improve patient outcomes. Being aware of the world in which your clients live, the popular culture they relate to, and the kinds of magazines they may read can help you deal with people not only as a social worker but as an equal.
Developing your ability to solve problems is a crucial skill, as you will be dealing with the issues your clients are having to cope with and navigating those resulting from the agencies you may be dealing with. The ability to research, analyze, advocate, and think creatively to devise viable solutions is vital within your day-to-day routines. Time management is crucial, given the demands of the role, and an understanding of the ethical standards you must adhere to is essential.
How to become a social worker
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum qualification to work as a social worker, although most states require a Master of Social Work degree. Finding the best online MSW program to suit your needs is essential. If you have a bachelor’s degree in any field, you can pursue your master’s degree online at Spalding University, which prepares you for various roles within social services.
Once you have embarked on your studies, if you haven’t already decided which area to focus on, you will be able to evaluate your options and take the right steps toward a career that will help those who most need it within society.