What Is A Social Worker?

Those who are employed as social workers get to enjoy the reward that comes from helping people whom are impacted by life’s challenging situations. Some of these situations include homelessness, drug addiction, job loss, and being the victim of abuse. Whatever the situation, social workers are there to help protect the victim and get his or her life back in order. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the jobs available in this field are expected to increase by a faster than average 25%  through 2020 with a median salary of $42,480 per year.[1] Here is a summary of the professional life of a social worker that you will find of interest.

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Social Work DegreeSocial workers can be viewed as working in two distinct areas. The first is in the area of direct service and the second is in the clinical area. Their duties overlap somewhat with the difference being that the direct service workers help people with life problems and the clinical service workers diagnose and treat those with emotional, behavioral, or mental difficulties.

For those social workers in non-clinical roles, a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or sociology is the basic requirement for entering into the field. Those working in a clinical position must have a master’s degree and will require state licensing. Every state has different licensing requirements.

Social workers in the clinical area work mostly in hospitals. About a third work in hospitals and the others are spread evenly with positions in residential care facilities, home health services, and individual /family treatment centers. Direct social workers can be found working in a variety of venues with a significant representation in schools as well as state and local government outreach centers. Some social workers also set up their own private practice.

There are several occupations that social workers can fill because there are so many settings and unique situations where their services are needed. These occupations include child and family social workers, mental health and substance abuse social workers, school social workers, gerontological social workers, and hospice and palliative care social workers.

For example, gerontological social workers have the primary focus on helping senior citizens who made need help with daily living activities because of advanced age. Social workers in this area can provide information to the families of elderly needing care in something like an assisted living facility. The social worker knows what is available and how the information can be of assistance to the senior citizen’s family.

Being a social worker is all about helping those who need it. The job can be somewhat stressful at times (as is any service-related job) but the reward of personal satisfaction makes it worth it all. If you think this might something you would like, look into the many educational opportunities available for being a social worker today.

[1]    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm.