It’s easy for some people to decide what career they want to pursue. They may have the ambition to be a doctor or an actor, for example, from an early age, and so spend their time at school researching what qualifications they need to get there. For others, the decision on what job to do comes later. However, there are opportunities for everyone, and guidance on what to do next is out there.
You may have already done a bachelor’s degree in one subject and then decided that a career in social work is for you. Once that decision is made, it’s up to you to make it happen.
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Jobs in social work
If you have decided that a career in social work is for you, it’s important to research not only the types of roles available but also the qualifications required and the places you can work. This way, you can plan the next few years.
There are opportunities to work in a wide variety of settings if you want to pursue a career in social work. Some of the tasks you could be expected to do include researching, referring, and advocating for community resources such as nutrition assistance or childcare; advocating for policy changes on the local, state and federal levels; or providing psychotherapy services to individuals. Social workers can be found in the police department, in government, in libraries, and in many other places.
Research qualifications for a career in social work
It’s important that you have the correct qualifications to pursue a career in social work and to find out what each state or province requires as far as licensing is concerned.
To be a social worker in the US, you must have a degree from a college or university program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is the minimum requirement for most positions and requires a minimum of 400 hours of supervised field experience. A Master of Social Work (MSW) prepares graduates for work within their chosen field of specialization and requires a minimum of 900 hours of supervised field instruction. Those who are more interested in research and academic degree could pursue a doctorate degree in social work.
Social work licensure
Licensing exists to provide state and provisional governments with a way to verify that social workers have the right levels of skills and knowledge in order to provide a safe level of practice. In most states, you can be licensed with a BSW, and those with an MSW can also get a license. Clinical work usually requires an MSW, completion of a licensing exam and supervised hours.
Develop your soft skills
It’s not only vital to get the right qualification but also key to finding out what soft skills you will need to develop in order to get the right experience. For example, empathy is important when you are dealing with vulnerable people. This ability to identify and understand another person’s experience and viewpoint will help you work with them more effectively. Good communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, are crucial, as are critical thinking, excellent organizational abilities, patience and commitment. Seek out opportunities that utilize these skills and try to improve them.
Choose the right course
Once you have decided on the career path you want to take, research the educational establishments that offer the qualifications you need. Talk to admissions advisors and career counsellors to ensure that you have all the information you need to make the right decision.
If you decide to enrol on the Spalding online Master of Social Work program, you will be able to benefit from the free placement service to help you secure local fieldwork. This will give you the opportunity to experience the realities of social work while also studying either full-time or part-time.
While you are studying, keep abreast of the job opportunities available so that you can get a sense of the types of positions you may want to apply for. Get advice from career professionals, talk to other students about what they are experiencing, follow news websites and professional organizations, and generally think past graduation day and look to the future.