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How To Start A Career In Social Work

How To Start A Career In Social Work

Rob Zawrotny, ArticlesBase.com

Over 600,000 social workers strive every day to make a positive impact on the lives of others. If you’re passionate about helping individuals, families, organizations, and communities, a career in social work might be right for you. Social workers find themselves helping people from all walks of life in a variety of atmospheres from schools to hospitals to prisons to nursing homes and handle casework, policy analysis, research, counseling, and teaching. They deal with issues such as poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, death, divorce, and physical illness. If a career switch to social work appeals to you, following is a brief background of social work basics and how to make a smooth transition.

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Salary: $32,590 - $48,420
Min. Education: Master's
Related Careers: Psychologist, Rehabilitation Counselor

Career Outlook: According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the social work profession is expected to grow by 30% by 2010 and is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014.

Median Annual Earnings for Social Workers (U.S., 2004)

• Child, Family, And School Social Workers: $34,820
• Medical And Public Health Social Workers: $40,080
• Mental Health And Substance Abuse Social Workers: $33,920
• All Other Social Workers: $39,440

Education Requirements: All social workers must have a bachelors (BSW), masters (MSW), or doctoral degree (DSW or Ph.D.) and complete a predetermined number of hours in supervised fieldwork. Social workers also have to graduate from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE reports that in 2004 there were 442 BSW programs and 168 MSW programs. While some people work with only a BSW, career options are more limited, so the MSW or DSW is more common.

BSW: Accredited BSW programs typically take four years to complete and require 400 hours of supervised field experience. With a BSW, a graduate can work in an entry-level position, such as a caseworker.

MSW: An MSW requires two years of study and has a prerequisite of an undergraduate degree in social work, psychology, or a similar field. An MSW allows a social worker to work in a clinical setting to diagnose and treat psychological problems.

DSW: A doctoral degree takes anywhere from 4-7 years. A DSW has extensive training in therapy and research and is qualified to teach in a university setting.


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