By SocialWorkDegreeGuide.com Staff
Last Updated: May 2020
Social work makes for an incredibly fulfilling yet emotionally taxing career choice. Professionals enter challenging work environments to aid people facing uphill battles and often find themselves helping with crisis situations, such as mental health or abuse emergencies.
Many social workers choose the field exactly for these reasons. They want to make a tangible difference in people's lives, and social work is one of the most effective professions in helping others. If you're considering becoming a social worker, this article outlines five reasons why social work might be the career for you.
#1. You will find many job opportunities.
Aspiring social workers do not need to worry about spending fruitless months in search of a job. The social work field offers many chances for employment in several different areas, according to Sterling Woods, a psychiatric social worker at the George J. Otlowski Sr. Center for Mental Health Care in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
"The field of social work has a variety of career opportunities based on your population of interest. The number of populations is vast and are based on ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexuality, disability, and location," Woods explained.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the social work field to grow by 11% from 2018-28, a much faster pace than average.
"Because of its sensitive nature, the world will continuously need social workers to address the world's issues," said Sojourner White, a second-year master of social work (MSW) student at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. "Social work is one of the more consistent careers with the flexibility to pivot and grow as you go."
#2. The social work career path is versatile.
People pursue social work careers because they want to help others. These professionals do not work merely as government employees. In their day-to-day work, they take on many other roles, too.
"We can be therapists, doulas, policy analysts, community health advocates, diversity trainers and facilitators, juvenile court liaisons, special needs teachers, and more," White said.
Social workers can also choose the type of work they prefer. "We can work domestically or internationally," White added. "We can do micro-, mezzo-, or macro-level work. There are so many possibilities that go unnoticed — and that's what makes it amazing."
Social work offers careers in which professionals can use their interests and strengths to mold their jobs productively.
"No matter your hobbies, interests, and life experiences, each can be used to help deliver unique and effective service to your clients," Woods said.
#3. Social work leads to self-improvement.
Social workers often possess a deeply ingrained sense of altruism, focusing on others without considering themselves. So it might come as a surprise when these professionals realize that their jobs can help them develop and grow, too.
"By supporting, advocating, empowering, and educating others, you inherently do the same for yourself," said Rumina Morris, social worker and diversity consultant.
Morris' advice might seem puzzling at first. After all, self-help books and gurus generally don't advise people to become social workers to find self-enlightenment. But the growth that social workers experience develops from the job's challenges. Those obstacles force social workers to confront their shortcomings.
"Not many careers will afford you this type of reflective practice by having you challenge your assumptions on a regular basis," Morris added. "As a child welfare worker, I have had to examine my values, beliefs, and unconscious biases throughout the course of my career."
#4. Social workers change people's lives.
As evident as this may seem, helping to change lives is one of the most important and rewarding elements of going into social work. When social workers help people, they do not just appear in their lives for a few minutes with words of encouragement. They aid people in substantive ways, helping them through major difficulties, such as poverty, substance abuse, and addiction.
"You can have a significant impact in people's lives in different but meaningful ways. You have the honor of being with people through some very emotional situations," Morris said.
The impact you have on each person's life will stick with you, too. This sense that you are making a real difference is one of the reasons why social workers continue careers that are otherwise challenging.
"There is nothing more rewarding and satisfying than helping a client solve a problem or supporting them through a hard time in their life," Woods said. "There has been no greater privilege than being allowed to be the listening ear or shoulder someone needed to lean on."
#5. Social workers change the world.
Social workers make a difference in individuals' lives, which also leads to change at the systemic level.
"Social workers have always been the voice of marginalized people in society," Morris said. "Within a career in social work, you play an essential role in the bigger picture of how our society treats its most vulnerable people."
In other words, social workers touch on key social justice issues, such as poverty, disability, inequality, and child abuse. Few people have the insight into these issues that social workers do.
Social workers can use their knowledge of the system to change it from the inside out. They can apply their expertise to make recommendations to judges or advocate to lawmakers.
|Sterling Woods is a psychiatric social worker at the George J. Otlowski Sr. Center for Mental Health Care in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and an intensive in-community, master's-level therapist. Woods holds an MSW from University of Southern California and has worked in the field for almost three years.|
|Rumina Morris earned a bachelor of social work from Ryerson University and has several years of experience within the public sector. Morris' areas of specialty include diversity, equity, inclusion, and human rights.|
|Sojourner White, a second-year MSW student at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, focuses on international social and economic development with a specialization in social entrepreneurship. White's social work interests lie in international social work, harnessing skills in education, racial and gender equity, and evaluation. White also writes on her travel blog: Sojournies.|