With many states moving to require graduate-level education and licensure for social workers, it can be hard to find entry level social work jobs immediately after graduation. The key to success in this pursuit is to be creative and to pursue a wide range of positions that don't necessarily contain the words "social work" or "social service" in their position title. Though this might seem like a deal-breaker, the truth is that social workers can put their skills to good use in these fields, and get relevant experience necessary to fulfill the licensing requirements for social workers, while earning further degrees and honing in on their occupational strengths. For those looking to get in on the "ground floor," consider the following positions.
1. Group Home Worker
Group homes are a great opportunity for entry-level social workers with a bachelor's degree in the field. Because they're don't specifically involve social work, they're often open to those without licensure or with only a state-granted provisional social work license. On the job, social workers will offer assistance to those residing in the group home. This can range from helping with daily interactions to arranging for transportation and providing some counseling services based on the nature of the group home itself.
2. Substance Abuse Counselor
Social workers make excellent substance abuse counselors, and that's for good reason. Most BSW degree programs actually require their students to take courses in addiction counseling and group therapy, and they educate students about the unique factors that enable or encourage addiction. These positions provide excellent work experience for social workers looking to gain a more hands-on role in helping those with a history of substance abuse or related problems.
3. Mental Health Workers
Like substance abuse counseling, the unique set of skills learned by social workers at the bachelor's degree level prepares them to work in mental health positions right after graduation. In this capacity, social work graduates would find themselves assisting mental health social workers or performing daily tasks within counseling centers and group homes for those with significant mental health struggles. This position would serve not only as an entry-level opportunity for social workers, but also as a way to build experience that might prove useful for clinical work and master's degree programs in the future.
4. Program Coordinators and Directors
Entry-level employment is certainly possible within social work organizations, often with new hires coordinating programs and serving in a director's capacity. For those who are considering leadership roles within the broader social work industry, these positions have the potential to serve as a starting point for real career advancement. When combined with the eventual receipt of a MSW degree and full state licensure, starting off as an entry-level program coordinator or director might just be the best option for aspiring leaders in this field.
Entry Level Social Work Jobs Provide Great Ways to Get a Foot in the Door
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes that social work is growing at roughly a 19 percent rate through the end of the decade. That's faster than the average rate of growth for all professions combined, and it equates to real opportunity for those who are willing to consider al of their options and seek a number of unique opportunities wherever they're available. Getting entry level social work jobs right after graduation should be relatively easy for social workers who consider a diverse number of options.