Social workers are responsible for improving the lives of those facing personal, career or health problems. They may work in schools, hospitals or other institutions to improve their clients' lives. Entry-level social work requires at least a bachelor's degree. Advancement opportunities, increasing pay, stable work hours and the opportunity to help others are lures to the field.
Social workers have the chance to work with many types of people in different circumstances. They may be working in schools with children or in hospitals for substance abusers or the elderly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most career growth will happen in the realms of substance abuse and public health social work, which will grow by more than 20% over the next eight years. Training in these areas will provide social workers with favourable employment opportunities.
As the population continues to age, and institutions such as prisons require that inmates receive substance abuse counselling, the employment prospects for social workers in those areas will continue to rise.
Social work also provides ample opportunity for promotions. Careers as human service assistants, probation officers and psychologists have education and qualification requirements similar to those of social workers.
Qualifications and Education
A bachelor's degree in social work or a related field is often the minimum requirement for employment, although advanced degrees are helpful for promotion, especially in education and research settings. Some positions may require state certification or licensing and several-hundred hours of clinical experience. Knowledge of a second language can be helpful, particularly when dealing with students and their families.
Public health social workers tend to earn the most in the social work field, with median annual wages of about £29,900. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earn the least, with median annual wages of about £24,050. A quarter of social workers belong to a union.
Social workers may spend time with clients in and outside of an office, school, hospital or other setting. Workers generally have a stable, full-time work schedule, but this may occasionally be disrupted if a client's needs are urgent. Social workers may also work during odd shifts or on the weekends. Employment is available in both profit and non-profit sectors. Social workers may choose to work part-time in one location or part-time in a few different social work positions.