If a person wants to enter into the field of social work, he or she will benefit the most from obtaining a social work degree. To be successful in this line of work, a person will need to have top-notch interpersonal and communication skills. Many times, people who have encountered circumstances in which they sought services through social work organizations end up working in the social work industry.
Social work degrees are available online; however, the field work that is required to be completed cannot be completed via the Internet. Being able to complete the coursework online is beneficial to those students who are already working professionals as well as those who have children.
No matter the type of degree a student earns to enter into the social work field, he or she will have to obtain licensure after the degree program has been completed. To do this, the student will have to take and pass a licensure exam.
For the most part, a person will need at least bachelor’s degree in social work to become a social worker. A bachelor’s social work degree can be earned in about four years. Core courses studied during a bachelor program include those relating to diversity, social policy, substance abuse, statistics and human behavior. During the final year of study, a student will take part in field work.
For those students who wish to continue their education, it is possible to earn a master’s degree in social work. With this type of credential, a person will be more likely to secure a position as a social work department supervisor or professor. To complete a master’s program, a social work student will have to complete many courses that focus on research. In addition, the student will be required to take part in intensive field work.
How to Select the Right Social Work Degree Program
To enroll in a social work program, a student will need a high school diploma as well as complete a variety of general education courses, including English, college algebra and history. To enter into a master’s program, a student will first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Earning a social work degree will require much time and effort from a student. It is of the utmost importance for a student to complete his or her education through an accredited school that is ranked highly as being a top social work college. When searching for a school, it is important to keep the following factors in mind:
- Cost of the Program
If a student is going to be paying for his or her education out of pocket, it is important to make sure that the schooling expenses can be paid for. If an expensive program is chosen and the student finds it impossible to pay the school, he or she may not be awarded the earned degree. When it comes to paying for school, students need to keep in mind that all accredited programs will accept several forms of financial aid including Pell Grants and federal student loans.
- Degree Programs Offered
If a master’s degree in social work is desired, a student will need to take part in a school that offers such a degree.
- Small Class Size
It is very important to complete a social work program that offers small class sizes. In doing this, a student can rest assured he or she will receive the individualized attention that will be needed to excel in the program.
Careers and Salaries in Social Work
Medical/Public Health: A career in the medical/public health field is an excellent path for social work degree holders to pursue. In this line of work, a person can find employment through rehabilitation centers, hospitals, assisted living centers, medical clinics, nursing homes and more. The overall goal found in this occupation is to ensure patients are receiving the care they are in need of. The average salary of a medical/public health social worker tends to be anywhere between $40,000 to $60,000 a year.
Mental Health: A mental health social worker will need to earn at least a master’s degree, with some employers preferring a doctorate. Those working in this profession will provide clients and patients with a variety of mental health services and can find employment in mental health centers, hospitals, private doctors’ offices and more. As a mental health social worker, a person will likely make upwards of $40,000 a year.
School Social Work: Those who want to work in school social work will have a wide variety of professions to choose from. One of the more popular professions includes being a guidance counselor. The guidance provided may relate to substance abuse, vocations, family issues and much more. Many times, when working in school social work, a person will work to create and carry out crisis intervention plans. Depending on how much education a school social worker has, he or she will make anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 a year.
Substance Abuse: If a person is looking to enter into the field of substance abuse, with a social work degree he or she will have the opportunity to gain employment in rehabilitation centers, prisons, detention centers, mental health clinics and more. In this line of work, a person will usually work directly with clients, assessing them, creating treatment plans and conducting follow up appointments to make sure that proper treatment is being obtained. Those entering into the field of substance abuse tend to make between $30,000 to $60,000 a year.
Child Welfare: Many people earn a social work degree with hopes of working for child protective services. This occupation is one that often sees a great deal of worker turnover because people readily choose to enter into a different profession after working in the child welfare industry for a couple of years. Child welfare social workers work directly with families and children, helping them obtain the services they need that are appropriate for their unique situations. Many times, the social workers will make the call as to whether or not children need to be removed from their homes due to physical or substance abuse problems occurring with the parents. The average salary of those working in this profession is between $30,000 to $50,000 a year.