Social Worker

How to Become a Social Worker
Social Worker Job Description
Skills and Qualities of Social Workers
Social Worker Salary
Influential Social Workers
Leading Organizations for Social Workers
Top Cities for Social Worker Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Social Worker

Social workers are an integral part of society that helps those who are in the greatest amount of need. In order to become a social worker, a college degree and perhaps a master's or doctorate degree is required. In addition to this, some degree programs may require students to complete an internship.

What does a Social Worker do?

A social worker assists people at all stages of their life with things such as medical care, food, shelter, clothing, and relationships. Other areas in which a social worker may be needed include addressing domestic violence, securing foster care, assisting in adoptions, dealing with substance abuse, and handling unemployment. Social workers who work for government agencies will usually be required to make home visits in which they connect with their clients and get a better feel for the client's circumstances.

Social workers can also be found in retirement homes, nursing homes, and assisted living centers. Here the social worker's main job is assisting the family, helping the family and patient maintain relationships, and assisting with financial issues that may arise. The last place that social workers may be found is within a school. These social workers usually serve as liaisons between the school and the parent, and their primary job functions focus on putting the child's academic and personal growth first. Social workers may also deal with truancy, teen pregnancy, and assist teachers with uncooperative students.

Other social workers will step away from client based service and serve more in the research and advocacy portion of social work. Within this area of the job field, social workers will work with government agencies and others in order to improve the conditions in which people live. Typically, social workers will specialize in one field but may move from one to another as experience grows.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Social Worker?

Social workers at a minimum need a four-year degree. Usually the preferred degree will be social work, although degrees in psychology and sociology may be accepted. Despite this, more and more organizations are requiring applicants to have a master's degree in social work. Those who wish to engage in the research aspect of social work will be required to have a doctorate in social work. In addition to degree programs, many organizations require employees to complete continuing education courses.

Besides having a degree, every state and the District of Columbia have licensing, certification, and registration requirements. Standards for obtaining a license vary by state, and most require applications to have completed a minimum of 3,000 supervised hours of clinical experience before gaining a clinical license.

On a personal level, social workers need to be emotionally mature, responsible, sensitive, and have the ability to maintain relationships. The situations that social workers are privy to are delicate and require a great deal of understanding as well as care. Social workers often see situations that hard and, to some people, unbearable. Therefore, it is imperative that anyone wishing to go into social work be prepared for this.

Those wishing to go into social work as a career must also be prepared to work long shifts and to be on call at times outside of regular working hours. Some jobs, especially those who work with children and families, may require weeknight and weekend visitation. Furthermore, social workers may be required to attend to emergencies as they arise.

How much does a Social Worker make?

Social workers who deal with child and family welfare as well as work in the schools can expect to make from about $24,000 to $62,000. However, fifty percent of all social workers in these fields make between $29,590 and $49,000.

Within the medical social work field, employees can make from $34,000 to $53,700. The top ten percent of all social workers in this field make over $64,000, and general medical/surgical hospitals paid employees the most.

Those who choose to go into the mental health/substance abuse field may make from $32,000 to $56,000 with local governments paying the highest salary.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

James K. Kelly and Elizabeth J. Clark are two individuals who continually promote social work. Kelly is the President of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) while Clark has served as the organization's Executive Director since 2001.

Together the two work with local and national government to shed light on some of the toughest situations in social work and work toward making improvements in the lives of people. Some of Clark's most impressive accomplishments since joining the NASW include the construction of the Social Work Congress. This Congress is made up professionals within the social work field, and together, they come up with provisions that will help guide the field of social work.

Other accomplishments include the National Social Work Public Education Campaign, a campaign designed to highlight the importance of social work and to increase public interest. Clark is also responsible for the design and implementation of the Center for Workforce Studies. This is NASW's research division, and they have recently completed a study of licensed social workers.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The National Association of Social Workers, located in Washington, D.C., is a leading organization in the world of social work. It is the largest professional membership for social work in the world, and it has a total of 150,000 members. NASW works with its members as well as other agencies to maintain standards and improve social policies.

The National Association of Black Social Workers is another leading organization in the field of social work. This organization was founded in 1968 to help promote the needs of the black community and has spread to include student chapters across the nation.

What are the top cities for Social Worker jobs?

Large cities such as New York and Los Angeles offer the highest amount of jobs; therefore, social workers will also find more competition for positions in these areas. More rural areas may have fewer opportunities.

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