Self Help

Understanding the Career Path to Social Worker

Getting any kind of career requires education, and if you’ve been wondering how to become a social worker recently, the answer is no different. To be a social worker means spending time with people who need support. Maybe you have a predefined image in your mind of a suit-wearing person from child protection services, however, the actual answer as to what a social worker does is far more diverse than their dramatic Hollywood interpretation. Therefore today we’re going to be taking a look at how to become a social worker, including any qualifications or natural talents that may come in handy on the job.

What a Social Worker Does

Put simply, social workers take care of people. It’s no secret that life is a struggle. While there are many joyous moments, the truth is that there are also many dark days; and for some, the dark days just keep on coming. The National Association of Social Workers states that social workers “help improve people’s lives.” This can happen in a variety of ways, as social workers can work with families, individuals, and communities. Social workers can also hold positions in local government or council, to try and enact large-scale changes that will positively affect the lives of those within that community.

Social work is a great career for anyone hoping to work with people. A social worker should naturally gravitate towards helping others and have patience during difficult times. Although many confronting situations occur in the course of a social worker’s duties, it is rewarding employment for anyone with a naturally altruistic or charitable bent.

There are many rewards to social work, as you’re in the thick of it, seeing the change you’re bringing to people’s lives, and building better communities from the ground up. There are also lots of opportunities for career advancement, and to get to work in lots of different settings.

Becoming a Social Worker

If this sounds like the type of environment for you then you may consider starting the journey to become a social worker. Just like every career, there is a specific path to becoming licensed in this field, and those requirements may change based on what form of social work you wish to specialize in. They may also change based on what state you live in, however, the path to social work has a few fundamental elements.

1) Personality

You’re going to be working with people, a lot, as a social worker. It’s in the title. This is not a job for people who are exhausted by lots of interactions with people. It’s also not for the faint of heart, as many people you deal with will be in various kinds of distress. Social work is for those that love helping others, and that seek reward primarily in the form of knowing that they’ve helped someone.

2) Education

If you believe you would thrive in a social worker’s shoes, then the next step is to obtain the relevant qualifications. It is important to be 100% sure about what you’re studying at this stage, as most states require social workers to have at least a Master’s in Social Work before obtaining their license.

A bachelor of social work usually goes for four years, and the master’s demands an additional two years, including an internship, fellowship, or other fieldwork component. This allows students to gain supervised first-hand experience before working in their own right.

3) Obtaining a License

After you complete your education you will need to know what kind of social work you wish to specialize in. This will determine what kind of social work license you apply for. It is important to consult your state regulatory board before applying for a license, that way you’ll be able to learn what licenses are available in your jurisdiction.

Once you have ascertained which social work license you are going to apply for, you need only follow the stipulations for that license according to your state’s social work regulatory board. If they deem your knowledge and experience fitting you will be granted your license.

Once you have obtained your license, you will most likely need to renew it every so often. Like most things with social work, the requirements for doing so may differ depending on the state you reside in, however, most license renewal processes involve a mix of education hours and a renewal fee.

That’s it.

Becoming a social worker is tough, and the work of a social worker is even more so. However, when we think of what it means to be a social worker there isn’t any way to put a price on it. Social workers make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling. This includes children in neglectful homes, the poor, those with mental illnesses or crippling dependencies, struggling families, and more. This is what makes social work such a beautiful profession – it represents one’s dedication to making the world a better place.

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