Social work is all about advocating and caring for people in need. There are numerous problems that plague a community, from homelessness to poverty, which is why there is always a need for professionals who can help in controlling and eventually finding possible solutions to these persisting issues. As a social worker, you’ll get the opportunity to work with children, older adults, and veterans. You’ll also get to meet people from different walks of life who look up to you to help in their crises.

There’s no denying that social work can be emotionally draining, but the rewards of choosing to look after a community and advocating for them are immense. But, like any field, you must dig deeper to find your calling as a social worker. What part of this sector beckons you, and what careers are in store for you? Here’s what you need to know:

How to Become a Social Worker?

Like any career, you must follow a series of steps before joining a particular workforce, and social work is no exception. On the surface, every state has its own set of requirements for social workers. While some states may emphasize degrees, others ask for work experience. However, it would help if you started by getting your bachelor of science in social work. From there, it’s highly recommended to go for a postgraduate degree. There are many ways you can do this, and if you’re looking for a self-paced method to study, look into acquiring a master of social work online to enhance your career opportunities.

Additionally, once you have the degrees under your belt, your next step should be to get the relevant license to practice as a social worker. Depending on the type of license you’re going for, you may need to get substantial work experience before you can start practicing independently. It would help to look into state regulations to confirm your next steps.

What Careers Can You Choose?

As a social worker, there are numerous career paths you can choose to pursue depending on your interest and experience. On a rudimentary level, a master’s degree is enough to start working in these various institutions. Still, if you plan to work in a specialized field, you may need further credentials and accreditations to practice. Here are some of these careers:

  • School Counselor

If you enjoy working with schoolchildren, consider becoming a counselor. However, you will need to pursue a degree in counseling and work supervised hours before you can start working with students one-on-one. Your primary role will be to help pupils develop socially, address problems like anxiety, trouble making friends, and if they’re experiencing bullying.

Likewise, you will also be essential in guiding students about their careers, helping them map out their college goals, and addressing areas of weakness in their current academic endeavors. You can work as a school counselor in the public or private educational sectors. This includes all categories from elementary to high school level.

  • Medical Social Worker

As a medical social worker, your expertise will include working with patients and families to cope with all types of losses and health issues. This includes supporting families, guiding them through social, financial, and emotional hardships, and facilitating them through severe illnesses. As your work involves educating, teaching, and advocating for patients, you may need to acquire a license in psychology, as you must counsel patients with the rightful accreditation.

Your job will also involve discussing community resources, walking patients through the details of adequate health coverage, and providing them with therapy if needed. Therefore, given the sensitivity of your job, you will need to know how to carry out both group and individual therapy so that you’re able to help patients move out of their current predicament. According to the BLS, medical social workers are also in demand, and the sector will grow by 14% until the next decade.

  • Probation Officer

The criminal justice system also has worked for you. As a social worker, you can extend your services by working alongside those convicted of a crime. As a probation officer, your role is to supervise and guide offenders who, given the nature of their crime, are expected to carry out community work instead of serving time in jail.

So, given these circumstances, you’re responsible for ensuring that the offender is doing their job, attending all the mandated meetings you have highlighted for them, and contributing actively to community service. Your job gives you enough authority to report the offender and ensure they’re penalized accordingly, which may include jail time. You are also vital in testifying in court to ensure that an offender did what was asked of them and carried out the terms of their probation.

  • Social Work Teacher

If you have a knack for teaching and want to contribute to helping future social workers with their careers, consider becoming a social work teacher. Your primary purpose is to develop curriculums, teach classes and help students with their research projects. This involves guiding them on how to conduct research, write dissertations, and identify the hypothesis. You’re also crucial in managing other professors and, with time, integral in overseeing other departments that impact social work.

Being a social work teacher is an incredible feat. You must be well-versed in the subject matter, understand the fundamentals of clinical research, and, when needed, be a leader. Furthermore, you have to be articulate in explaining case studies and help students understand different social issues that can be complicated to tackle. Most social case studies are not linear and require analysis to deduce them appropriately.

Final Thoughts

Social work is an ever-growing sector. As a social worker, you’ll be responsible for the community’s welfare in several ways. Social work is not limited to rescuing and rehabilitating children from troubled homes. But it also involves educating, counseling, and connecting families to relevant resources that can help them improve their current standing.