Social work consistently features in the list of the 100 Best Jobs worldwide. The benefits of becoming a social worker include high job satisfaction and stability, and a fulfilling career. It’s a perfect profession for empathetic people who want to improve the lives of vulnerable individuals and families and contribute to their community.
If you are interested in becoming a social worker, it’s essential to understand the role and duties a social worker performs, where they are deployed, and the varied situations in which they work. Read on to understand the qualifications and other conditions required to fulfill this goal, as well as opportunities for social workers.
What is a Social Worker?
A social worker is a licensed or registered professional who plays a significant role in supporting vulnerable people with identified needs, providing them with support that caters to their specific situation. They provide moral support, and access to social, legal, life adjustment, and health-related resources.
Social workers help people across a range of cultural backgrounds and beliefs, socio-economic status, mental and emotional conditions, and abilities. They understand how a client’s background can contribute to their well-being, or govern their response to the support provided. Social workers understand each individual’s needs and interact with them accordingly.
Why Become a Social Worker?
A social worker’s responsibilities can be challenging, and at times you will deal with difficult and complex situations that may require tough decisions. Social workers work in several different settings and roles where they can positively influence people’s lives.
This human-centered role that brings the satisfaction of helping those in need is ideal for anyone with a passion for improving the lives of others.
The Responsibilities, Duties, and Role of a Social Worker
A social worker helps and guides vulnerable people to navigate difficult circumstances in their daily lives using available techniques and resources.
A social worker is licensed to help people experiencing mental illness, addiction, poverty, homelessness, loneliness, and many other challenges. A social worker’s role can vary depending on their area of specialization and the client’s situation. Some common responsibilities, duties, or roles include:
- Crisis management
- Legal help
- Legislative advocacy
- Providing support and relevant guidance
- Recommending or providing resources
- Maintaining accurate records.
A statutory professional social worker is duty-bound to honor the laws of their country.
Social Work as a Career
Social work is a very rewarding career that brings a lot of fulfillment, whether you work in healthcare, counsel a patient at a clinic, advocate for an abused person, or help someone in distress. Social workers may find themselves working in various locations, such as schools, homes, volunteer organizations, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and federal, state, or local bodies.
Several practice areas — including child and family welfare, community social work, rehabilitation welfare, and abuse — are available to choose from as a specialty social worker.
How to Become a Social Worker
Once you have understood the social work role, responsibilities, duties, and job description, the next step is to understand how to pursue this career. Social work is a professional career that calls for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in social work, approved by the relevant authority in the country or region in which you wish to work.
If you have a non-social work bachelor’s degree, you can pursue the Online Master’s of Social Work program as a postgraduate social work degree. The professional requirements for becoming a social worker are described below.
Education: An undergraduate or bachelor’s degree in social work is a minimum requirement for obtaining a social work license. If you have any other kind of undergraduate degree, you will need a postgraduate degree in social work.
Postgraduate study can be done through on-campus programs or the Online Master’s of Social Work — a flexible route to your qualification. For more specialized roles such as clinical social work, a master’s degree with a corresponding specialization is essential.
Internships: Internships or hands-on experience are a great way to test and develop social work skills. You can learn about social work, gain experience, and benefit the community while working in a variety of places such as hospitals, clinics, and non-government organizations (NGOs), whose social workers are required to take interns.
Experience: Social work is fieldwork that involves a lot of person-to-person interaction; the interpersonal skills and experience you build will be extremely valuable to you and your clients.
Specialized areas require some level of experience. For example, clinical social workers need at least two years’ experience, along with a master’s degree.
License: You may need a license or registration to become a social worker depending on the country or state in which you wish to practice. License requirements (over and above academic qualifications) include:
- A certain number of hours’ supervised work experience
- Passing an exam
- Pursuing continuous education opportunities.
These may vary depending on the level and area of social work. Regular registration or license renewal with licensing authorities is required; this also involves continuing professional development to ensure you are up to date with developments in your field.
Skills: A social worker interacts with a variety of people to help them in different situations. The following strengths are therefore essential:
- Active listening
- Decision making
- Emotional regulation
- Critical thinking.
We hope this article has helped you to learn about the qualifications you need to become a social worker, and given you a glimpse into social worker life. If you have a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, you can become a social worker by pursuing the online Master’s of Social Work, which can also become your stepping stone to an specialized social work career.