Earning a bachelor degree in social work online or at a four-year university is just the start of a demanding, yet fulfilling career. Social workers understand social diversity, social justice, and the importance of human relationships.
A career in social work is both stressful and rewarding. Battling the United States’ biggest social issues every day can easily become overwhelming, but it’s a much needed occupation. Poverty, abuse, substance abuse, homelessness, illness, and discrimination are all concerns social workers are faced with on a daily basis. Those who are overcome by these problems are provided counseling and referrals to beneficial community resources by social workers.
There are two main types of social workers: direct-service and clinical. Direct-service social workers focus on connecting people with federal, state, and community resources (such as providing food stamps) that will better their quality of living. Clinical social workers focus on diagnosing and treating mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Who are they?
Social workers are competent, helpful individuals who have integrity and who respect the dignity and worth of a person. They are everyday people who support families, children, hospital patients, and the elderly through trying times.
What are their earnings?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, a social worker’s median annual wage was $42,480 in May 2010. More specifically, in 2010, some of the different social worker career-area average salaries included:
- $47,230 for health care social workers
- $40,210 for child, family, and school social workers
- $38,600 for mental health and substance abuse social workers
When do they work?
Social workers are usually employed full-time in an office, although they may spend some time away from the office visiting clients.
Where do they work?
A traditional or online bachelor’s degree in social work will provide students with the proper skills needed to acquire jobs in all sectors of health and welfare services including public agencies, private businesses, hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, military bases, private practices, police departments, and courts.
Why are they needed?
Social workers are employed in the United States to offset some horrible statistics: At the time of the last census, there were 46.2 million Americans living below the official poverty line. The U.S. Department of Education reports that there were more than 1 million homeless students at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. And the nonprofit organization, Childhelp, reports that 3.3 million instances of child abuse are reported annually in the United States.
How to become one?
All entry-level social workers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or in a related field such as psychology or sociology. And for students considering graduate school, a BSW is not required to enter a master’s in social work (MSW) program.
Aside from earning a degree from a social work program that’s accredited by The Council on Social Work Education, Canadian Social Work Education, or other nationally recognized accrediting agencies, social workers must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but there are four exam levels based on a graduate’s education: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical.
 Social Work Licensing Basics. The Association of Social Work Boards.
 BLS OOH. “Social Workers,” http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Social-workers.htm.
 Palermo, E. (2013, May 28). How to Become a Social Worker. Business News Daily. Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4237-how-to-become-a-social-worker.html.
 Child and Family Social Worker. US News and World Report. Retrieved from http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/child-and-family-social-worker.