There are various service sectors that offer employment opportunities for social workers. Though anyone can work as a social worker, if you want to make it a career, you will have to develop certain skills, acquire the required academic qualifications and obtain certification and licenses in order to be eligible for such jobs.
That way, you can get plenty of opportunities to get employed in various service areas like education, transportation, family and child services, housing, health and others. Following are the basic steps you must follow to ensure a bright career as a social worker.
Steps to Become a Social Worker
Be Emotionally Strong
Your work as a social worker will vary depending upon your qualification, experience and the nature of the service you provide to the society. Your work may range from working on public policy, conducting research or even resolving problems of families and individuals by direct participation in the matter. Unless you are emotionally very strong, you may not be able to help people with their problems. So, learn to distance yourself from emotions while keeping yourself committed to your job.
Volunteer in local projects conducted by various NGO’s. If you are enthusiastic about working as a social worker, you should show this enthusiasm right from the very beginning and start volunteering even when you are in high school or at least immediately after you decide that you want to become a social worker.
Acquire Academic Qualifications
The next thing you have to do is to obtain a Master’s or at least a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. So, enroll into the relevant programs. There are over 130 MSW accredited programs and 430 accredited BSW programs to choose from.
So, make your choice carefully, based on your future goals, such as the service areas you want to work in.
Learn A Second Language
Learning a second language will also maximize your opportunities. It will enhance your chances of getting a job in an international organization.
A bachelor in social work (BSW) program requires you to get around four hundred hours of supervised field experience. The master’s program (MSW), on the other hand, requires nine hundred hours of supervised field experience. You are advised to look for paid internship opportunities to fulfill this requirement. It will open some new doors to your career.
Work Under A Licensed MSW
After completing your master’s degree program with good grades, you should work under a licensed MSW for at least two years. Most states require this work experience to issue a license to social workers.
Apply For License
Unless you are licensed, the door to advanced job opportunities will remain shut. Also, you cannot get reimbursement from insurance companies for your services unless you are a licensed social worker.
You have to appear in a licensing exam and obtain good marks in order to be eligible for the license. Your eligibility for the license depends on various factors, including your grades in MSW course, your work experience and the score you obtain in the licensing exam.
You can get guidance, references and support from the NASW (National Association of Social Workers).