Social work is an emotionally rewarding career, and social workers choose this field because they want to improve people's lives and society. These professionals often face challenging situations where they help people struggling with mental health issues and emotional and physical abuse. So the living situation of the vulnerable members of society is improved, and they can thrive. Besides the charitable nature of the job, it also offers flexible hours with various job opportunities due to increased demand. As of September 2022, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job market will increase by 9 percent from 2021 to 2031, meaning 74,700 new jobs each year. With the upcoming demographic changes, it is assumed that social workers will remain in demand.
To be a social worker, you must fulfill some educational requirements. You can start your career with an accredited bachelor's or master's degree in social work. But if you want to pursue more career advancement and leadership opportunities, you require a master's degree. With a social work master's degree, you can get acquainted with knowledge about versatile social work and learn hands-on clinical treatment skills. These skills will help make you viable for various generalist roles in multiple fields, from mental health and drug abuse to childcare. Alongside the educational degree, you also must be an empathetic, compassionate person and have a strong commitment to helping people. If you already have a bachelor's and are working, you can pursue a social work masters online to further your career. Depending on the type of clients you want to serve and the environment you feel most comfortable working in, you can choose to specialize in gerontology, clinical social work, or school social work.
If you want to pursue a social work career, we have listed some reasons for pursuing a social work career and tips to help you start successfully.
Table of Contents
1. Professional Challenges and personal growth
It is a part of a social worker's job to identify issues, analyze them and find creative solutions. Social workers must constantly find out-of-the-box solutions which help them develop professionally and become better supporters of their client's issues. Besides professional development, social work also helps to grow and develop personally. This growth stems from the challenges you face during your job; these challenges force you to meet your limitations, reflect and work on them. As a social worker, you must learn continuously and examine the beliefs, biases, and values you hold throughout your career to grow personally and professionally.
2. A wide array of job opportunities
Social work opens the possibility for various jobs in different workplaces across industries. The responsibilities of social workers are diverse and depend upon the associated work environment, people, and communities. Social workers can work in various workplaces, from schools, universities, and rehabilitation centers to government or private organizations, and work with children, university students, senior citizens to abuse survivors. Social workers can even pursue a career in research. With a career in social work, you will be given various options to work on new challenging tasks and develop skills as you move further in your career. You don't have to worry about being bored on the job; every day at the job will be different and exciting.
3. Advocate for people and community
A social worker supports and guides people through mental health problems, abusive environments, and drug addictions. They help them first identify the source of the problem and then find solutions. Social workers help people in different ways, either through counseling sessions or rehabilitation. The positive influence on people's lives can cause a change in the system. Helping the vulnerable members of society, social workers touch on different social injustices, poverty, racial injustice, disability, and inequality, and, therefore, have developed insight into the system. They can use this knowledge to change the system. Either by suggesting amendments in law or providing recommendations to judges and lawyers based on their learning.
4. Develop different skillsets
Through their education and career, social workers develop skillsets that can be applied to numerous career paths. If you switch careers, your skill set will enable you to transition to a different role in another field efficiently. For example, a social worker can take on the part of a researcher or educator because of their unique capabilities.
5. Income and benefits
Social workers can earn a stable income for their services. A social worker's salary depends on various factors like levels of education, specialties, work experience, certification, occupational responsibility, and additional skills. However, a social worker's median annual income as of May 2021 is $50390. People who start this career without formal education may struggle to make a decent living. Therefore, to increase their income, they should pursue advanced education as it will open up opportunities for career advancement. Besides the salary, social workers' student loans are forgiven. In addition, the employers give the social workers dental and health insurance and provide retirement plans to secure the employees' future.
6. Career advancement opportunities
There are many advancement opportunities with advanced degrees or certifications. With advanced education, they can take on more complicated responsibilities. For example, a person can become a therapist, medical social worker, or researcher or be appointed a manager, supervisor, or director.
Social workers are the voice of underprivileged people in society. By pursuing a career in social work, you play an essential part in how society will treat its most vulnerable people. In addition, you can bring change to the community as well. However, dealing with and witnessing these social injustices can be emotionally taxing for social workers. Therefore, it is necessary before choosing social work as a career not only to look at the increasing demand and the rewarding nature of the work but also to consider how much perseverance, dedication, passion, compassion, and hard work you would need to be successful.