Start a Social Work Career
What Is Social Work?
Nobody’s life is perfect - nearly everyone realizes that. However, issues in some people’s lives may be extraordinarily difficult to straighten out, and these people may need help doing so.
Social workers are professionals that can help people resolve difficult issues, and improve their well-being and their quality of life. These professionals typically work with individuals and groups of individuals that are experiencing crises in their lives.
A few of the common situations social workers encounter include:
- Poverty & Unemployment
- Addiction & Substance Abuse
- Child Welfare
- Mental Health Disorders
- Unplanned Pregnancy
- Child Abuse & Neglect
- Behavioral Disorders
- Medical Problems
Since the main duty of social workers is to improve the quality of people’s lives, these professionals typically have several responsibilities. Primarily, though, social workers act as advocates for their clients, speaking for them in their time of need.
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Why Do We Need Social Workers?
In order to cope with life’s hard times, some people may need a little hand up. Thankfully, there are a number of programs and services that are designed to help those in need. Unfortunately, many people may have a difficult time accessing these programs and services, and some may not even know that they exist.
social workers, on the other hand, can help people during their times of need. These professionals offer a helping hand and support when people need it the most. As a social worker, you will have the rare opportunity to work out their issues and help them take steps to move in the right directions in their lives.
What Do Social Workers Do?
The exact duties of social workers may vary and will typically depend on what types of social workers they are. Here are just a few common examples.
- Pediatric Social Workers - Advocates for children who need protection and support due to neglect or abuse.
- Geriatric Social Workers - Help elderly clients with issues such as healthcare, disability, and emotional welfare.
- Mental Health Social Workers - Work with individuals to resolve mental issues that interfere with daily life.
- Addiction Social Workers - Assist individuals struggling with addictions by arranging for treatment and counseling.
Social workers interview clients to better understand their problems. This enables them to assess their situation and determine what needs to be done to make their lives better. Most social workers will also help develop goals and plans for their clients, outlining the steps that they need to take for this to happen. They will also help them find services and assistance that they may need. For instance, a family social worker trying to help a poverty stricken mother feed her children after a recent job loss may help her apply for welfare benefits, such as cash assistance, housing assistance, and food stamp benefits. The social worker will also help the woman take steps to find employment, so she can work toward becoming more self-sufficient.
Where Do Social Workers Find Employment?
Social workers are most frequently employed by government agencies, at the local, state and federal levels. They also work in medical hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, mental health clinics, child welfare agencies, assisted living home, and schools.
What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Social Worker?
Typically, most individuals pursuing social work careers will usually start by completing bachelor’s degrees in social work or human services. Most states also require social workers to be licensed as well, which involves completing a graduate degree program as well as several hours of supervised work experience. The exact amount of work experience required in your state may differ, but many states require social workers to complete roughly 3,000 hours of supervised fieldwork before they can become licensed.
What Is the Salary of a Social Worker?
For clarity, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics separates social workers into four categories. There are child, family and school psychologists, substance abuse psychologists, healthcare social workers and other social workers. In this case, because we are discussing just general social work, we chose to use the broadest category. Social workers, as of May of 2014, had a average annual salary of $58,410. However, salary as a social worker may depend on employer and location and education. The BLS estimates that the top 10 percent earn an annual average salary of $84,630 and the lowest 10 percent make less than $33,000.