Social work is a broad discipline that encompasses many jobs performed in various settings, and because of the depth of its activities, the field of social work is divided into three main categories called macro, mezzo and micro social work. While macro and mezzo social work pertain to professionals involved with setting high level, social welfare policies for large companies, political interests and even local neighborhoods, micro social work involves one-on-one counseling services for individuals in need.
Micro Social Work Activities
Micro social workers counsel low income individuals and advise them of special programs available to them often because of the efforts of the people working at the macro and mezzo levels of the social work hierarchy. These programs involve finding clients temporary housing, health care and mental health services. People who come from abusive backgrounds, have substance abuse issues and are somehow disabled are also served by micro social workers. Micro social workers are trained to help clients creatively solve problems using the available government authorized programs and tools.
Qualifications of Micro Social Workers
Micro social workers usually have an undergraduate degree in social work, sociology, or psychology from a state approved school at a minimum to practice social work in a particular state. While requirements vary by state, social workers usually require a state issued license to operate as well. As part of the licensing procedure, social worker candidates must sit for an exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. There are even varying levels of social worker licensing besides the initial one associated with the bachelors degree in social work. Social workers with advanced degrees often sit for master and clinical social work licensing. To annually renew their licenses in many states, social workers must also take continuing education courses.
Places of Employment for Micro Social Workers
A number of places including public health hospitals, schools and social services offices across the nation employ micro social workers. It is fair to assume that micro social workers are employed with any organization that has significant contact with low income people. Since helping clients locate housing is a key service that micro social workers offer, they are often positioned at homeless shelters to directly support displaced individuals and families.
Job Prospects For Micro Social Workers
As the gulf widens between the haves and the have-nots, the role of social worker remains a permanent fixture within society. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social worker career is poised to experience a 19% growth rate through 2022 which is faster than the average rates for all surveyed occupations. The key barrier to entry for people seeking to become social workers is the requirement for an undergraduate degree in social work. However, there are scholarships available to help qualified individuals finance their career in social work. For example, the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund offers students pursuing social work credentials up to $10,000 in scholarship funding. Although social workers typically do not choose their profession for the monetary compensation alone, their average yearly pay is a little under $45,000 according to the BLS.
Macro social work employs professionals who work for people, while those in the micro social work field work right alongside the people and families they were trained to serve.