If you are looking for a meaningful career that allows you to give back to your community, social work may be a path to consider. Social workers aid their clients in a variety of situations, ranging from abused children to unemployed adults and mental health patients. If you are wondering “how do I become a social worker?” take a look at this basic information.
The first step to becoming a social worker is understanding the expectations of the career. Social workers are employed not only by various government agencies, but by health care facilities like nursing homes and hospitals as well. Social workers aid people from all different walks of life. Often, people think of social workers as only dealing with cases of child abuse or neglect, however there are many more duties than just working with children. Social workers who primarily work with children and families are the ones who deal with cases of child abuse, but they also may provide support for the elderly, or for families dealing with difficult circumstances. Employment social workers help out of work adults find jobs, or deal with the circumstances in their lives that are preventing them from holding a job. Medical social workers work with those affected by illness, whether long-term or terminal, and their caregivers to ensure the best quality of life possible. Mental Health social workers provide support to those dealing with issues of mental health or substance abuse by offering various forms of therapy and rehabilitation.
Social workers are expected to make in-person visits to the people who have been assigned to them and often must appear in court to make recommendations or deliver findings to a judge. Depending on what agency the social worker is employed by, he or she may have other duties including organizing and providing therapy and rehabilitation activities and placing patients in appropriate care facilities.
To become a social worker, applicants must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree. While a degree in social work is preferred, some social workers have training in psychology or sociology. Many organizations require a Master's of Social Work in order to secure a position. Anyone wishing to become a social worker must also have proper documentation. All 50 states in the United States require social workers to have some sort of license or certification.
The requirements to become a licensed social worker vary from state to state, but many states have similar requirements. In Virginia, for example, those wishing to become a licensed social worker must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work and at least 300 hours of supervised on the job experience. After the applicant meets those requirements, he or she may submit an application for licensure to the state Board of Social Workers. The board will then decide if the applicant is eligible to take the licensure exam.
Social workers make different salaries based on their specializations. The Bureau of Labor reports that healthcare social workers make approximately $47,230, family social workers make $40,210, mental health social workers make $38,600 and all others make a median of around $51,500.