Social Worker

Social workers assist people struggling with various problems, including substance abuse, poverty, and job loss. They work with individuals and groups. When working with clients, social workers teach them how to solve problems, so they can overcome future challenges.

Social workers counsel people, teach crisis prevention, and show clients how to effectively manage stress. Social workers often assist the unemployed, the poor, and people requiring housing and other types of assistance. They also work with people struggling with disabilities, serious injuries, and other problems limiting the ability to live happy and functional lives.

The following are specialties within this field:

  • Child, family, and school social work Public health and medical social work
  • Licensed clinical social work
Licensed clinical social workers (CSWs) are trained to assist people struggling with mental illness, but they're not trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.

Social workers must be empathetic, assertive, and effective communicators. They must also understand factors affecting human behavior and development. Additionally, social workers must consider cultural, economic, and social factors when assisting clients.

Working Conditions
Social workers typically work 40 hours every week, but sometimes they work nights and weekends. Occasionally, they're required to respond to emergencies occurring during all hours of the day. Many social workers working for non-profit organizations are employed part time.

Social workers typically spend their work time at social welfare agencies or private offices, but they're occasionally required to travel to meetings and clients' homes. Many social workers assist clients out of multiple offices within a region.

Social workers are employed at social welfare agencies, correctional facilities, senior citizen centers, psychiatric clinics, hospitals, and schools. Many specialize in gerontology services, homeless family assistance, child welfare services, and disaster relief.

Social work can be difficult, but rewarding as well. Many are assigned huge caseloads and work with limited resources.

Career Training and Education

Most entry-level social work jobs can be obtained with a bachelor's degree. Clinical, teaching, and administrative jobs are usually filled by social workers with master's degrees. Those conducting university-level research usually hold doctorate degrees. The Council on Social Work Education provides information about accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs in social work.

Every state requires social workers to satisfy licensing requirements before practicing professionally. Requirements differ by state, but most states now require social workers to complete training in cultural diversity and professional ethics. To become a licensed clinical social worker in most states, you'll be required to acquire 3,000 hours of clinical experience.

Voluntary certifications can be completed with the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Those aspiring to work in private practice should be certified with these organizations since insurance companies often reimburse certified social workers.

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