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Chris Ostrander

How to Become a Social Worker

Becoming a social worker is an excellent choice for individuals who are passionate about helping others. If you want to make a difference in your community and you thrive when you have one-on-one contact with those in need, a career in social work could prove very satisfying to you.

Becoming a Social Worker

If you're wondering how to become a social worker, the first thing you'll need to do is get a college degree. Employers prefer a degree in social work, though they may accept a related degree. Social workers typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree but there are positions available at an entry-level that you can get with an associate's degree. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker?

The quick answer to this question depends on what position you want and the education level you want to pursue. If you're anxious to get started in the field, you can begin with a Human & Social Services Associate Degree. This will get your foot in the door for human services jobs. Then you can pursue continuing education even as you're earning your first paychecks. This is a great way to be sure that social work is for you without spending years and dollars on education.  However, to advance in your career, you will eventually need a bachelor's degree.

If you want to perform clinical work as a social worker, you'll need to get a master's degree in social work. You'll also need at least two years of post-master's job experience in a supervised clinical setting before you can take on an unsupervised position. If you have your bachelor's in social work, you can often earn a master's in just one year. 

Licensure and Certification

Every state has its own licensure and certification requirements for social workers. All clinical social workers need to be licensed. Make sure you investigate your state's licensure requirements so you're fully equipped for your job search.

Important Social Worker Skills

In addition to having the appropriate education and licensure, you should also work to hone relevant skills to land an outstanding job in social work. Social workers need to have a high degree of empathy and strong communication skills. You may find yourself working with an incredibly diverse group of people, and you'll need to express yourself politely and sympathetically with all of them. 

Social workers also need outstanding time management and organizational skills. This is one field where you rarely have down time. You need to be comfortable balancing several projects at once and prioritizing those that have the highest importance. You'll need strong problem solving skills to help you overcome daily obstacles and ensure that those in your care receive the services they need, no matter what setbacks you may face.

Types of Social Workers

There are several types of social workers, making this a diverse career field with ample opportunities. Some common options include:

  • Clinical social workers
  • School social workers
  • Child and family services social workers
  • Community and social services specialists
  • Crisis and intervention counselors
  • Substance abuse counselors
  • Healthcare social workers 

How Much Do Social Workers Make?

Social workers have a median annual salary of $45,900. Those with earnings in the bottom ten percent make less than $28,530 while those in the top 10 percent have a salary of more than $76,820. Healthcare social workers have the highest median salary at $52,380.

If you're interested in a career as a social worker, contact the Admissions office at Bryant & Stratton College for more information on the best program for you.

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