Are you searching for a career where you can help people and make a real difference in their lives?
Becoming a social worker gives you the opportunity to make a real impact every single day. This role involves working closely with families and children in a number of different ways.
While social work can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. However, you need to complete special training and licensing, which takes dedication and commitment.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become a social worker and what this career involves.
- What Does A Social Worker Do?
- Essential Skills And Attributes
- The Types Of Social Workers
- Steps To Becoming A Social Worker
- The Different Courses
- Social Worker Professional Organizations
- Studying To Become A Social Worker?
- Final Thoughts
What Does A Social Worker Do?
This role mainly involves helping groups and individuals manage problems in their daily lives. These issues are often serious and prevent people from being active members of society. Daily tasks include conducting assessments of clients, providing counseling, and recommending different services and coping mechanisms.
There is a wide range of career paths that you can follow if you choose this profession. Some take place in clinic settings, while others involve working in schools or making home visits. It is also possible to provide counseling over the phone or online.
Essential Skills And Attributes
While you need to be qualified and licensed to do this job, you also need to have certain personality traits. These aspects of your character need to be developed to help you relate to the people you work with. Here are the main skills and personal attributes you should possess to do this job well.
This is the ability to identify with the feelings or needs of another person. During your daily work, you will need to put yourself in the place of your clients to relate to them. This helps you to determine the best way to help them both emotionally and physically.
It is important to be able to recognize what can be achieved within a particular time frame. Some issues are very complex and are simply beyond the resources and abilities of a single professional. Setting boundaries for yourself helps to prevent you from being overly consumed by your work.
You need to be able to listen carefully to your clients and ask the appropriate questions. This helps you to connect with your clients and establish a rapport. Active listening helps you build trust with clients so you can help them more effectively.
A lot of the important information clients provide about how they think and feel is through body language. You need to be able to recognize and interpret nonverbal cues to read between the lines. This will help you understand your clients better and provide them with the best possible advice.
It is important to constantly evaluate your performance in different situations. You need to be able to take criticism and feedback on board and adapt your strategy accordingly. This helps to make sure you are always improving and offering the best care and treatment.
You are likely to interact with several clients and other people within a single workday. You need to be able to keep each case file separate and well organized and create appointment schedules. This includes prioritizing tasks to make sure that everything is taken care of on time.
You need to work closely with your clients as well as their guardians and other healthcare providers. It is necessary to be able to compromise and collaborate to find the best holistic solutions for clients. You need to know when to take a backseat and follow the treatment plans of other professionals.
This profession can be very stressful, and seeing clients in pain and distress can be upsetting. It is important to be able to detach from your work at the end of the day and unwind. During your free time, you have to be able to focus on your personal needs, so you are balanced and refreshed.
The Types Of Social Workers
Before you start working on getting qualified, you need to figure out what type of social worker you want to be. Keeping this firmly in mind will help make sure you choose a course that provides the required skills. Here are the main types of social workers and details of what each role involves.
Child and Family Social Worker
This is the most common type of social work, and it involves helping children and working with whole families. When children appear to be at risk at their home or in school, it will be your job to assess the situation. You may also work closely with families to help resolve issues so that families are happier and healthier.
School Social Work
This job involves working closely with students as well as their families and school staff. When students are displaying behavioral issues at school, your job is to get to the root of the issue. You provide students with strategies for managing stress, anxiety, and other issues they are facing. While you will usually talk one-on-one with students, you may also work with groups occasionally.
Medical Social Work
These professionals usually work in a community health care center, clinic, or hospital. They work with people who are experiencing emotional and physical issues that are affecting their health. They may work with patients over long periods to help them deal with emotional issues caused by medical conditions.
The focus of this role is helping people to improve their quality of life by dealing with ongoing issues. This can include helping people overcome substance abuse and helping former conflicts to reenter society and the workforce. This role includes creating special treatment plans, providing employment resources, and locating the right support groups.
Licensed Clinical Social Work
These trained professionals provide special therapy and counseling services to help clients. This role often takes place in a private practice or rehabilitation center. They work closely with other healthcare workers to provide clients with targeted and personalized care.
Mental Health Therapist
This specialized area of social work is perfect for people who have a deep understanding of mental health and conditions. They work closely with people who are exhibiting behavioral issues and help them get to the root of the problem. Mental health therapists often work in schools and organizations, while they may run a private practice.
Social Services Director
This leadership role involves overseeing and coordinating different healthcare workers to create treatment plans. Directors usually head a medical facility and oversee the admission and transfers processes. They also create special care strategies for residents, maintain detailed records, and implement treatment plans.
Steps To Becoming A Social Worker
Before you can start work, you need to complete formal education and gain a license. Choosing your career path as early as possible will help make sure you gain the right skills and knowledge. Here is an overview of the steps you should take on your road to success.
Complete a bachelor’s degree
After graduating high school, your first step to becoming qualified is earning a bachelor’s degree. You need to choose a degree that offers courses in social services and case management and includes social work practice. Take the time to choose a degree that matches your interests and specialist skills.
Specializing in a particular area of social work helps you hone your skills and earn a higher salary. It is important to choose a specialization as early as possible to make sure your training supports it. In some cases, you may need to complete additional coursework to support your specialization.
Complete an internship
You will often need to complete an internship before you are qualified to work independently. Make sure you choose an internship that supports your specialization and will give you hands-on experience in the field. Internships can also help you make valuable connections in the industry and lead to full-time work once you are qualified.
Earn a master’s degree
Completing a master of social work will help you take your career to the next level and gain additional skills. This special program takes two years to complete and combines coursework with hands-on training. There are several programs to choose from that focus on particular social work specialties.
Gain professional certification
You need to obtain a state-issued license before you can start practicing your trade. This usually involves completing an accredited bachelor’s degree, completing supervised practice hours, and passing a test. The exact requirements vary from state to state, and you need to check carefully to make sure you qualify.
Find a job
Once you are fully licensed, it is time to start applying for social work jobs. Make sure you update your resume and cover letter to reflect your most desirable skills, knowledge, and qualifications. Making connections within the industry can help you secure a rewarding and interesting job.
The Different Courses
One of the most important decisions you need to make during your journey is which bachelor’s degree to complete. There are several popular options for budding social workers, and each course offers something different. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options and their key features.
Foundations of Social Work
This is an introductory course that includes an overview of the field. It teaches students about social services, social welfare organizations, major social issues, and vulnerable populations. The set coursework includes social work practices such as choosing and using evidence-based methods.
Social Work Practice
This course provides students with valuable hands-on practice so they can hone their skills. This includes working closely with communities, groups, and individuals. The course allows students to explore the ethical principles in social work, core concepts, and social work theories. Depending on the course structure, there may also be lab or experimental components.
School Social Work
This course provides an introduction to practical social work in educational settings. It covers the role of social workers in schools and when interacting with vulnerable populations. Potential topics include school social work applications and designing care programs.
This course is designed to provide students with the leadership skills they need to successfully manage client cases. Among the topics covered are care planning, the client assessment process, and service delivery coordination. Students also learn how to evaluate client outcomes and select the most effective team-based approach to client care.
Social Worker Professional Organizations
Joining an organization provides you with valuable resources that you can use while developing your career. Members of a professional organization also can gain access to networking events and conferences. Here are some of the professional organizations you can join and an overview of what they offer.
This association was founded in 1955 and boasts more than 120,000 members throughout the United States. Members are provided with professional development resources and information on social policies. There are also regular conferences to attend, as well as members having access to the association’s career center.
American Clinical Social Work Association
This is a good place to find information on the latest trends and research in the field. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with other members through conferences and networking events. Members are also provided with access to online directories and forums.
Clinical Social Work Association
This association is open to social work students, early career professionals, and experienced clinical social workers. The Clinical Social Work Association offers a job board for members to make use of as well as clinical practice resources.
School Social Work Association of America
This association is designed to provide school social workers with special evidence-informed resources. Members gain access to research on school social work and online continuing education options. The School Social Work Association of America also hosts local events, conferences, and national networking opportunities.
Studying To Become A Social Worker?
That’s great news! Helping people for a living is amazing, so let’s make sure you pass those exams with the Bachelors Social Work Exam Secrets Study Guide: ASWB Test Review for the Association of Social Work Boards Exam, the Social Work Licensing Clinical Exam Guide: A Comprehensive Guide for Success, and the Social Work Licensing Clinical Exam Guide and Practice Test Set: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success to begin with.
Perhaps you’re moving on to your Master’s Degree, for that we have the Social Work Licensing Masters Exam Guide: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success, the Social Work Licensing Masters Exam Guide and Practice Test Set: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success, and the Social Work Licensing Masters Practice Test: 170-Question Full-Length Exam all available online in 2023.
I’ve also put together a few articles on the matter, such as my Social Worker Job Description and my Companies That Hire For Online Social Work Jobs, and finally is my list of the Best Jobs For Helping People in case you’d like some alternatives to choose from.
Becoming a Social Worker can be very rewarding and allows you to help people in a range of different ways. While it takes time to gain the necessary education, skills, and license, it is possible to continue working while studying. Once you are fully qualified, your hard work will be rewarded with a competitive salary and other benefits.
The average entry-level salary for a social worker is around $40,000 per year. After a few years, you can expect your salary to climb to around $60,000 annually. Gaining an advanced degree and specializing in a particular area can help you boost your salary even more.
All the very best in your rewarding career as a Social Worker!