Social workers are crucial to a functioning society, allowing vital services and support to people on the social fringes. Training is rigorous and can take several years. This article provides information about the education and training required to become a professional social worker.
What is a Social Worker?
The job of a social worker is to address and improve the stress and hardships of your clients. Graduates in social work will work with individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations in settings such as health care, mental health, children services, churches, and even international service organizations. In most state and private agencies, you'll need to be licensed and certified in order to be a social worker. Each state or jurisdiction has its own laws governing the requirements. There are four categories of social work practice 'that jurisdictions may legally regulate'.
Bachelor's Level: Requires a baccalaureate social work degree upon graduation
Master's Level: Requires a master's degree in social work with no post-degree experience
Advanced Generalist Level: Requires a master's degree with two years post-master's supervised experience
Clinical Level: Requires a master's degree with two years post-master's direct clinical social work experience.
Educational Requirements for Social Workers
As stated above, a bachelor's degree is the minimum credential for entry-level employment in the field of social work, and advanced education and experience is necessary for licensure at more and more advanced levels in the field. With a bachelor's degree, you will be qualified for entry-level generalist social work practice, and you'll have the foundation you need to enter a master's in social work program. With a bachelor's degree, you will also be ready to initiate the process toward licensure as a professional social worker in the United States.
Coursework in a social work degree program may include:
Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Social and Organizational Change
Research Methods in Social Work
Oppression and Diversity in the Social Setting
Assessment of Mental Disorders
Families in Transition
Reasons for Obtaining Career Training
You will study such topics as human behavior and culturally diverse environments, social policy, procedures and practices.
You will learn theoretical approaches and practical applications to social work concepts, and you will gain facility with cultural competence and empowerment of client systems. *You may study grant writing, policy-making, group dynamics, diversity issues, and issues in the current social welfare system.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts positions for social workers to increase through 2014, especially in the areas of substance abuse social work, and school social work, both of which have received closer scrutiny in recent years, resulting in increased emphasis on their development. Salaries vary, but as an example, medical and public health social workers earned an average of about $40,000 in 2004.