A bachelor’s degree in social work is a demanding yet rewarding qualification to work towards. There are many different career outcomes for a graduate, including jobs and further education. If you are considering studying for a bachelor’s degree in social work, here are just a few of the areas in which you could work.
What does it take to be a social worker?
A BSW degree can help prepare you for the challenges of being a social worker. There are many qualities and characteristics that make a successful social worker and a BSW degree can help you to develop and expand these. One of these traits is compassion. You will be working with many different people with different backgrounds, who may have experienced traumatic situations. Some may have criminal records and it is important to treat each case with compassion, objectivity and a lack of judgement. It can be difficult to balance compassion with objectivity, but it is important not to let your personal feelings and opinions cloud your judgement and get in the way of following the ethical guidelines that social workers have to stick to.
Another trait is patience, as change does not happen immediately. It may take time to achieve the outcomes and results that you are working towards. Furthermore, individuals or groups may not want to work with you or receive your help, and you must remain patient and not become frustrated. You may often be working with people or groups that have differing opinions or goals and will need to be patient and calm in order to reach a suitable solution.
It is vital to be organized as a social worker as you will usually have multiple cases to work on at one time. Staying focused, organized and prepared will allow you to give each case the care and attention it needs and will also prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. There are many important skills and characteristics a social worker needs to have for them to perform their job to the highest possible standard and a BSW degree can help you understand what these skills are, and how to use and develop them.
Why study a BSW degree?
If you wish to work in the field, a BSW degree is a great starting point. Many careers in social work require further qualifications and licensing, but a BSW degree will provide you with a good foundation upon which to build your career as a social worker. A BSW degree covers a great range of topics and courses, as well as providing a faculty member as a mentor. They will help you with courses and internships and there is plenty of financial support available too. Often, a BSW degree is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, which means the course meets their high standards, and you are receiving top-quality education.
There are many ways to become a social worker, but a BSW degree can give you as much knowledge and preparation as possible. This is not just to help prepare you to be a social worker, but also to be a student, as there will be a lot more studying and fieldwork involved before you become a fully licensed social worker. Even then you will need to keep on top of current theories and trends.
Levels of social work
As well as different roles within the field, there are also various levels of social work. Within these levels lie the different types of jobs and areas a social worker works in.
Social work on the micro level involves the one-to-one counselling of an individual. This is typically seen in school counsellors or family therapy. The social worker works with individuals with mental or behavioral conditions, personal or economic problems. This can include helping someone access housing, working with young people in the foster care system or being a substance abuse counselor. Micro level social work jobs are considered clinical and therefore require further education and qualifications that your BSW degree can help to prepare you for.
Mezzo social work involves working with a small group or organization. Here, the aim of the social worker is to focus on changing the group as a whole, rather than the individuals within it. This can include acting as a mediator to help resolve a workplace conflict or working in a support group of strangers who share a common traumatic event or experience such as grief or addiction.
On a macro scale, a social worker will be working with communities, such as those defined by location, religion or politics. You could be lobbying, making or shaping policies, or training others. You could be a professor, politician or attorney, among other careers, moving from activism to leadership.
Examples of careers in social work
There are many different career options in the field of social work and these take place in many different locations. You could work in hospitals, schools, churches or criminal justice agencies. Here are just a few examples of the wide range of careers you could pursue:
The world population is rapidly aging, with the number of people over 60 estimated to increase from 11% to 22% between 2000 and 2050. Therefore, there will be a demand for social workers to assist individuals as they age. Becoming a geriatric social worker is a rewarding and important career. You can work with individuals and families to help with the changes that come with aging. If you already have qualifications and experience in this area, such as geriatrics or gerontology, this can be a great career option. A geriatric social worker helps with many tasks, including clinical and service interventions, as well as advocacy.
You may also support families who care for their loved ones at home, assisting both the family with care and the individual. You could help with the transition from home to long term care, recommend different technologies, offer bereavement counselling, assist with administration and help people access end of life care planning. A BSW degree can help you to prepare for this type of work and will give you access to the further qualifications and certifications you will need in order to progress into this type of career.
On a macro scale, you may be working to advocate for people or policies, lobbying or educating and training others. Lobbying is the process of influencing public policies and social workers do this with the aim of increasing the well-being of their clients and to promote social justice. Lobbying involves using many techniques to persuade those in power and some social workers even become full-time lobbyists. There are plenty of laws and regulations that you must adhere to and a BSW degree in social work can help you understand the beginning steps to lobbying and advocacy. As a social worker, you are often acting on behalf of individuals or groups that cannot advocate for themselves for a number of reasons. Many social workers work in activism or politics, and you can use the skills and knowledge from your BSW degree to assist you in understanding how best to help a person or group.
Social workers are incredibly important in all areas of health, from mental to physical. They may help individuals, families and communities cope with many things such as substance abuse issues, mental health problems or developmental disabilities. There are numerous types of social work careers within the health field, but all work to provide access to important services and improve the lives of the people, groups and communities that they serve. Furthermore, social workers can choose to focus on policy, research, administration or planning to advocate for people and their needs.
Social workers may also work with organizations, helping them to re-structure to improve efficiency, morale and productivity. These are occupational social workers who work on an EAP, which is an Employee Assistance Program. Social workers offer support and counselling to employees within an organization. This can be incredibly varied, including mental health counselling, stress management, addiction management and bereavement. Many companies offer this kind of program to their employees in order to provide them with support and services for a huge range of problems and issues.
As well as the technical skills your BSW degree will teach you, there are plenty of personal skills to be gained from a degree. These are known as soft skills and are applicable in many different situations and careers. You may already have many or wish to develop some further. Soft skills are non-technical skills that affect your performance in the workplace. On a BSW degree, time management, organization, communication and motivation are all important skills that you will have to use in order to complete your studies.
Furthermore, as coursework on the BSW degree is completed 100% online, studying from home presents a whole new list of challenges. Organization is a very important trait in a social worker, as you will often have multiple cases at the same time and will need to treat every case with the same level of detail, attention and professionalism. There are plenty of ways to boost your organizational skills, but starting as a student will help you develop some good habits, as well as find methods that work best for you.
Motivation, and the ability to self-motivate, are valuable skills that are definitely developed when you study online. In a physical classroom setting, you are surrounded by peers and tutors, who will make sure you complete your work. However, when studying online, this is not the case. You will need to be prepared and disciplined to complete your studies, not getting distracted and maintaining your focus. Again, this is valuable as a social worker, as it can teach you to stay on task and not become overwhelmed.
Another great benefit of online study is the ability to maintain your other commitments while studying. This multitasking will again be useful as a social worker as you will have become used to juggling multiple tasks at the same time. Studying alongside your job or other commitments, such as family, can teach you to be disciplined and organized. It will also teach you the importance of managing your time, making sure each task gets the attention and work it requires and completed to the highest level.
Different careers within social work require different levels of education, qualification and licensure. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) work to advance safe, ethical and competent practices to better protect the public, by providing support and services to the social work regulatory community. They are a not-for-profit organisation that are dedicated to regulating social work. There are examinations that must be taken to approve a person’s competence to practice their work ethically and safely, and these are taken through ASWB. Your BSW degree will help you to understand what you need to do to become a licensed social worker. Many careers within social work require you to have certifications that are higher than a BSW degree, but it is a great foundation to start from. Licensure also varies by location, so this is another factor to take into consideration.
There are numerous career outcomes of a bachelor’s degree in social work and plenty of options to choose from. A bachelor’s degree can provide you with the basic understanding and knowledge to help you streamline your studies to a certain area of social work. There are also many jobs which you may not expect to be related to social work, but the skills and understanding of people and society that you can gain from a BSW degree can make a social worker the perfect candidate. You may be interested in a more medical, clinical social work career or thrive in the political, activism side of social work. Whatever career choice you make, a bachelor’s degree in social work can set you up well and give you a great foundation to work from.
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