Social work is a perfect career for someone passionate about others’ well-being and rights. It’s a career that involves finding solutions in the best interest of the individual, community, or group by assisting to access certain facilities and care. In most cases, when it comes to this career, lives are changed for the better.
We could look at a social worker as a trained professional that deals with the most needy and those affected by unfair systems amongst us. If you’re an individual that enjoys giving back to the community and changing lives, then this could be your calling. This can be a fulfilling career especially when you see all the lives you change for the better.
Below you’ll find a more detailed look at what social workers do and what it takes for you to become a social worker.
Defining Social Work
The first thing to note when defining social work is that it’s about changing people’s lives for the best. This career won’t work if you struggle to engage and communicate with challenged and disadvantaged individuals, groups, or communities.
It’s an engaging profession through physical and non-physical contact with individuals, groups, and communities to promote development, change, and democracy.
Your role as a social worker also varies based on your field, interest, and expertise. As a social worker, you could practise in social development, family development, community development, social policy, family development and guidance, violence and abuse, foster care and adoption, gerontology (old age challenges and the ageing process), statutory services, and crime prevention.
Qualifying For Your Social Worker Career
Here are the typical steps to take to become a social worker:
Select and complete a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field.
If you’ve decided that social work is what you want from the start, pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in your undergraduate studies is highly recommended. You can also consult MSW programs New York for more information on your degree.
You could also consider a non-BSW Pathway, which comes highly recommended if you’re unsure that social work is what you want. You could have a different undergrad degree, such as sociology, political science, or psychology, and then later pursue a Master’s in Social Work (MSW).
Pursue an MSW
Earn your MSW from an accredited Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) program. You can find multiple MSW programs either online or on campus. Finding a CSWE-accredited program also simplifies licensing and practising as a social worker. This also means the program follows the desired curriculum to prepare you for your career after graduation.
Do Your Fieldwork
Do this by completing the required hours. This is also known as a practicum or internship. You will observe and learn from social workers already in the field during this time. Most MSW programs require that you complete at least 900 hours as part of the experience.
Complete Your ASWB Exam
To become a licensed social worker, you must complete the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Social Work Licensing exam and any other required exams. You’ll also need to check with the necessary board for any specific examination requirements.
Apply for Your Social Work Licence
Getting your social work licence is another way to advance your learning. This also demonstrates credibility and strengthens your expertise in the field. It’s important to note that not all social work roles require you to have a licence. All positions where you work directly with individuals require a licence. The standard of licensing typically differs from one country to another.
Select Your Social Work Career
Here you could select a career in micro social work, clinical social work, medical social work, or school social work.
Continued learning can be pursued through workshops, staff development, distance education, courses, practice-oriented seminars, and other training offered by accredited programs in social work.
You could also do individual professional activities such as writing papers or books, reading professional books or journals, and pursuing independent study tutorials and research.
Essential Skills and Knowledge to Possess as a Social Worker
Depending on where you work, you must acquire specific skills and knowledge relevant to the people you work with. You can advance your career by having the following interpersonal skills :
- Empathy helps in understanding another person’s feelings about a situation.
- Communication skills.
- Critical thinking.
- Organisational and time management skills.
- Self-care techniques.
- Interviewing and counselling techniques.
- Reflective and practical listening skills.
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Featured image: SeventyFour, iStock.