Is Social Work Right for You?

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Social work can be tough but very rewarding. If you are aiming to start a new career, and want to make a difference in people’s lives, you may want to think about social work. Social work is one of the rare career opportunities that allow you to improve people’s lives while monitoring their performance and directly observing the positive effects of your interactions. Though it can be emotionally challenging as you will be dealing with sensitive situations, it can also be very fulfilling. If you are thinking seriously about social work, you need to contemplate if its requirements are right for you.

Types of Social Workers

There are several different types of social workers, and it is a field with a significant degree of variety and scope. Here are some common types of social work that you may want to specialise in:

  • School Social Workers – Typically working with primary and high school students, these workers assess and tackle the many factors that could impact academic and pastoral student progress. 
  • Medical Social Workers – These social workers help those receiving medical care to address their ailments. They also work with their families. Typically medical social workers help patients rehabilitate themselves to their previous daily routines, but can also provide emotional support. 
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker – These professionals offer counselling and other therapy to those in rehabilitation centres or other practices. 
  • Child and Family Social Worker – These individuals help clients cope with their daily hassles and emotional issues. They work closely with children and families and can be prominent figures in their lives. 

What qualifications should you consider?

The qualifications you require for a social work career depend on your personal goals. Bachelor’s degrees in social work (BSW) are the minimum entry point to a social work career, but in some areas, local laws prohibit all but those with Master’s degrees in social work (MSWs) or Doctors of social work from partaking in social work. You should research the requirements set by your local legislature. In some areas, social workers can practice with no registered licensure, but these are likely to be assisting roles. 

MSW degrees involve the obtainment of specialised skills within a particular area of focus. These may be paediatrics (working with children), familial work, geriatrics (working with the elderly), mental health areas, hospices, or those suffering from substance abuse issues. MSWs prepare graduates for many fields of care, and the MSW may aid in the fulfilment of Licensed Clinical Social Worker requirements, or Licensed Master Social Worker requirements. MSWs also allow you to continue studies and receive specialty certifications. These degrees typically take 2 years longer than BSWs, but some types of social work online degree will enable the student to obtain an MSW with no prior BSW. 

Once you have a degree, you should focus on obtaining a license, which often requires a specific degree and the completion of a standardised exam. Social workers typically have to renew their license every two years, as the nature of their work involves delicate responsibilities that they need to be able to consistently fulfil.

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