Career Profile: Social Work
Social work is a field focused on providing advocacy and assistance to underprivileged populations due to economic circumstances, physical ailments, or both. It engenders a sincere compassion for helping promote social change through practical channels, including government and social channels. Social work has witnessed several transformations within the past two decades and has found a strong presence in non-public agencies, as opposed to working strictly in government institutions.
Healthcare and education represent the largest employment opportunities for social work professionals, with public agencies coming in second. Primarily this is in response to the increasing elderly population who requires assistance and educational institutions which provide counseling and other resources through social workers. As a civic-minded field, social work is occupied with members who have a genuine desire to help people from different backgrounds, each with their own set of struggles that impact their welfare.
The majority of social work positions require at least a four-year college degree, with the more senior roles requiring a master’s, preferably a master of social work (MSW). Comparable work or education in sociology and psychology also relate to the field of social work and may offer the necessary qualification to obtain a position. Aside from the requirements of a formal education, all social workers must be licensed by the state they work in, with each involving different policies.
As social work has increasingly grown independent of the traditional government institutions it was once exclusively practiced in, social work professionals are presented with a variety of opportunities. Depending on career ambitions, social workers can work with public agencies, such as Child Protective Services or go into the private sector and work for health care organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates through 2014, social work job growth will increase. Primarily this is due to the aging baby boomer population and services for the physically and mentally ill improving.
Although career pursuits will influence the type of positions social workers will obtain throughout the course of their tenure, the majority begin in entry-level positions and work their way up the ranks. For instance, health care social workers may work in counseling centers or rehabilitation programs for the severely disabled and drug addicted. Human services social workers, on the other hand, will work with children and adults alike in protecting their general welfare by providing resources and assistance to connect them with appropriate government programs.
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