Social workers are advocates for people who need help most. They ensure the rights of underserved classes of people who may have difficulties speaking up for themselves or finding access to mental health and other healthcare services they need.
There are two basic types of social workers: direct social workers and clinical social workers. The first works and interacts with the community, and the second helps people in clinical settings.
Social workers help many different kinds of people: the elderly, the poor, those with emotional or family problems, people with disabilities, people dependent on drugs or alcohol, people in the criminal justice system, and more. They define issues, collect and assess data, develop treatment plans, and monitor outcomes.
Learn which personality traits and professional skills you’ll need to be a successful social worker.
You should have…
Excellent goal-setting skills
High ethical standards
Excellent communication skills
Licensing and certification guidelines for social workers vary by state. Make sure to check the guidelines in your state before you start your studies.
Get a Bachelor's Degree
For entry-level positions, you'll need an undergraduate degree with a focus on social work. However, this is just the first step toward professional practice because social workers ultimately need a master's degree.
Earn an Advanced Degree
If you want to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a master's (MSW) or doctoral degree in social work is required. Make sure your school is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Supervised Work Experience
Before becoming a full-fledged social worker, you'll need work experience under the supervision of a mentor. The number of hours of supervised work depends on your state's requirements, but 1,500 hours is a common number.
Pass the Social Work Exam
You will need to pass the Clinical Level Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.
Apply for Licensure in Your State
In order to practice social work, you must be licensed by your state board of social work.
Social workers don't normally get rich on their salaries, but they are well paid. Salaries vary a lot depending on location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
As a social worker, you advocate for others, be they young or old and you’ll work with clients from every station in life.
Aspiring social workers can choose from an array of degree types. Read about your curriculum and program options.
Social work salaries don’t top the charts but you’ll more than make up for money with the rewards of the profession.