3 Benefits of a Career in Social Work
Having a career in the field of social work can be deeply fulfilling. After all, the primary task of any social worker is to help people cope with hardships and struggles. If you aspire to improve people's lives and do some good in the world, you'd be wise to consider a career in social work. And with the extraordinary diversity of the field, it shouldn't be difficult to find a niche that appeals to you.
Check out three of the major benefits of a social work career:
1. Meaningful and satisfying work
Social work attracts those who are driven by a desire to better the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. As a social worker, you get to help people cope with and overcome challenges. For example, you could counsel a patient who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, help someone struggling with addiction to connect with support groups, or intervene to protect a child from abuse or neglect. So it's no wonder that more than 80 percent of social workers believe that their jobs make the world a better place.
In short, social workers can have a positive impact on the lives of people in need and help ease human suffering. This kind of work offers fantastic personal rewards—you get to touch people's lives in a very real way.
2. Plenty of training options
There are a number of ways to get a social worker education. The route you take depends on the type of work you want to do. The field is incredibly varied; you can specialize in children and families, mental health, criminal justice, gerontology, and many other areas. It's important to narrow your focus so that you can look for the best social work programs that align with your particular interests.
You can get a social work degree at either the bachelor's or master's levels. In a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program, you'll learn about human behavior, ethics, and social policy development. You'll also be required to complete a period of supervised work experience through fieldwork or an internship.
BSW programs are designed to give you a solid foundation for entry-level roles in counseling, case management, and administration. They can also be excellent preparation for graduate studies.
Social work graduate programs lead to a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. You'll need an MSW if you want to provide clinical services or advance to higher-level positions in the field. In a master's program, most of your courses will relate to the specialty you choose. Your training will also include a practicum or internship.
It's important to note that, although most MSW students have a BSW, you can be accepted into a master's program with a bachelor's degree in a related area such as psychology. If you do have a BSW, you can complete the master's program more quickly.
Schools with good social work programs can be found all across the country. The Council on Social Work Education maintains a list of accredited social work schools; online programs are also included.
Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to pursue a degree in social work in order to help disadvantaged people. You can also pursue training in human services (also called community services), which might be faster and allow you to begin your career sooner.
3. Growing demand
No matter what facet of social work you choose to focus on, you're likely to find abundant job opportunities. Data from the Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates that employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than average between 2016 and 2026. Tens of thousands of jobs are expected to become available over that 10-year time frame. Check out the projected rates of job growth and the number of new job openings for each of the following occupations:
- Healthcare social workers—20 percent / 35,400 new jobs
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers—19 percent / 23,900 new jobs
- Social and human services assistants—16 percent / 63,900 new jobs
- Child, family, and school social workers—14 percent / 45,000 new jobs
Start Shaping a Better Future
Take the first step toward a rewarding career as a social worker. Degree programs that can get you started are widely available. Perhaps you're wondering, "How can I find social work schools near me?" That's easy. Simply enter your zip code into the school finder below to get a list of convenient options in your area!