How Do I Become a Social Worker?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 682,100 social workers in the United States in 2016. More importantly, the job outlook for the industry was well above the average as it reached 16 percent. Hence why it is not uncommon to see more and more students conducting research on ways to become a social worker. So, what are some of the most important steps that will help you land a job in the aforementioned sector?

Choose Your Area of Specialty

Social work accounts for fields that range from geriatric all the way to hospice care. Due to this, it is important to begin the journey by choosing a specialty. In order to make the right selection, conducting in-depth research on all alternatives and talking to those who are already active in the industry borderline mandatory. Doing so makes it much less likely that you will make the wrong decision and go into a market that does not intrigue you. In other words, the likelihood of experiencing the “burnout” effect, which takes place when your job lacks the necessary thrill, is much lower. Another outstanding resource for choosing a specific specialty is to attend advising sessions with experienced counselors who have first-hand experience in social work.

Go to College

In the vast majority of situations, becoming a social worker is impossible without a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, there is no shortage of higher education facilities that offer programs in this area. Those four years will be spent learning everything from sociology, science, child development, political science, and many other topics that are required to handle cases. Although there will be further on-the-job training once you begin your career, going to college will help you learn the basics that are needed to attain an entry level position.

Network and Find Internships

The next thing that you should keep in mind while you are completing your degree is professional networking. One of the benefits here is the fact that you can accomplish a lot of the necessary networking while still in school. So, if you know how to multitask well and have no problems meeting new people, you could easily land a job long before formally graduating. During the networking sessions, your primary goal needs to be obtaining an internship position that you can accept for a summer or winter period. Although you may not be earning as much as a certified social worker, you will get exposure to real-life work that awaits you upon graduation.

Get Certified and Start Working

Finally, you need to plan for completing all the necessary certifications before you start your full-time job. The reason why many working professionals advise this is because a lot of certifications are based on extensive studying. If you have to work 40 hours per week, however, finding another 10-15 hours to study may be unmanageable. The actual requirements to get certified will vary from state to state and you have to do the necessary research through the Association of Social Work Board. Afterward, looking for a job will be a mere formality since the demand for social workers has never been higher.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

As you move through the process, remember to always stay focused on the reasons that made you pursue this career choice in the first place. That can a great way to overcome challenging times and adversity that most candidates who want to become social workers face.