Social Work Services

Read about career options in the fields of social work and social services. Review the educational and licensure requirements in addition to exploring degree program coursework, employment options and salaries for the field.

Is Social Work for Me?

Career Overview

Working in social services, you would help people deal with issues such as domestic problems, living accommodations and joblessness. Related careers in social work might include child welfare social worker, family services social worker and child protective services social worker. Other related careers include medical and public health social worker and substance abuse and mental health social worker. You might also find work as a social work administrator, social work researcher, social work planner or social work policymaker.

Necessary Skills

If you're interested in a career in social work services, you should be responsible and insightful. You should also be dependable and self-sufficient. Some states might require licensing of those who work in social services.

Salaries and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of social workers was expected to increase 19% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). In May 2013, BLS reports showed child, family and school social workers earned an average annual salary of $46,060. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a little less per year at an average of $44,420. Healthcare social workers averaged $52,520 per year, while all other types of social workers were averaging $56,060 per year.

How Do I Work in Social Services?

Education Requirements

You will typically need at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field in order to establish a career in social work services, although you can go on to earn a master's and doctoral degree as well. One of the most common undergraduate degrees in the field is a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), offered at many 4-year universities. You can then go on to earn a master's degree in social services or a clinical social work master's degree.

In social services programs, you'll take courses in society, multicultural issues, psychology and welfare. Studies focus on the behavior of people as it pertains to social settings, diversity, communities, societies and the roles of those entities that provide assistance.

Graduate Programs

Master's degrees in social work and social welfare should prepare you for careers in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, working with local communities and other organizations. You will also need a master's degree to perform clinical work. A Ph.D. in social work or social welfare allows you to not just work in social services, but also enter a teaching profession. To earn a Ph.D., you need to complete the program's requirements, which include a doctoral dissertation and an initial exam.

Licensure

While social service assistants don't typically need to be licensed, certification or licensure are usually required for social workers. To obtain a license in clinical social work, you'll typically need to complete a master's program, roughly 2 years of field experience and an exam. Additional requirements can vary by state.

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