A bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) opens a lot of professional doors on its own. With this degree, you can obtain positions in the following areas: behavioral and case management aide, community outreach, court liaison, probation, rehabilitation, benefits eligibility, and human services. The BSW is also a great platform to build on by earning social work certifications. You can expand your professional horizons and pursue careers in specific areas you care about most.
The following are certifications available for people with a BSW looking to specialize in these areas:
- Hospice and Palliative Care: supporting patients and their families in terminal illness end of life care.
- Gerontology: supporting the unique needs of aging individuals.
- Children, Youth, and Families: helping families build healthy relationships and promote healthy childhood and adolescent development.
- Case Management: helping individuals seek needs of daily living navigate their legal situations.
Each of these certifications requires hours of continuing education and experience within the area of specialization. Gather experience and test the waters before committing time and money to the certification by volunteering, seeking internships, and networking with social workers already certified in your area of interest.
The following social work certifications open up if you earn a master's degree in social work (MSW):
- Advanced Hospice and Palliative Care, Gerontology, Case Management, and Children, Youth, and Families
- Health Care: helping individuals receive the best health care services
- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs: helping those battling addiction and striving for recovery.
- School Specialist: building healthy communication between students, families, and schools in order to achieve academic success.
Earning a master's degree is in and of itself another way to build on your bachelor's degree in social work, in a way that allows you more diverse and lucrative career paths and freedom of specialization. A master's degree in social work provides you more in-depth knowledge and experience within social work specifically. If you would like to broaden social work into other areas, consider earning a master's degree in psychology, sociology, child development, or gerontology.
Do Your Research
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your amount of options, you are not alone, and there is a simple solution: work in reverse. Start by considering the end goal, the position you want to be working in at the end of your degree education and certification. Then conduct searches for those positions in your area, and find out exactly which degrees and certifications you need to qualify for them. Visit this page of the National Association of Social Workers for a complete guide and explanation of the wide variety of academic and career paths available to you, including your BSW if that is as far as you wish to take your schooling.
Social work is a valuable and rewarding field. It puts you right in the line of action, working with individuals to help them live their best lives. Social work is most effective when people receive specific services tailored to their unique needs. In turn, you will be most successful and fulfilled in your career when you tailor it to your deepest passions. Begin considering which social work certifications you want to purse.