Social work is a practice-based profession as well as an academic discipline that promotes the empowerment and liberation of people and communities, along with social changes, cohesion and development. Human rights, respect for diversity, collective responsibility and principles of social justice are all important aspects surrounding social work.
A degree in social work can open doors to a broad range of career opportunities in different work settings and environments. After earning a degree and working in the field, social workers can advance their careers by earning an online MSW degree from an accredited online institution such as Spalding University. This prepares you for a variety of roles in social services so you can start a new and meaningful professional career.
What is a social worker?
Social workers are professionals who serve individuals, communities, and groups in crisis by helping them address the issues they face in their everyday life, enhance their overall well-being and ensure access to their basic and complex needs.
Social workers can be found in various work settings, such as:
- Child welfare and human service agencies
- Mental health facilities
- Community development organizations
- Private practices
- Nursing homes
- Adoption facilities
- Specialist social work agencies
- Charities and volunteer organizations
- Local authorities
Social work skills are highly sought in various government, private and non-profit institutions. According to a survey commissioned by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this profession is expected to grow at an average of 9% between 2021 and 2031.
Who do social workers help?
As a social worker, you’ll be required to work with vulnerable people who are going through a crisis such as unemployment, mental health issues, abuse, poverty, addiction, or trauma.
Social workers meet with their clients, build relationships based on trust and understanding, identify the problems they are experiencing and implement solutions.
They help, support, counsel, and advocate for adults, children, and families. They will typically specialize in a specific field of work, such as working with adults with physical disabilities or mental health needs; people with alcohol, drug, or substance misuse problems; and children who are at risk of neglect or abuse.
What do social workers do?
The duties of social workers can vary depending on their employer, job title, specialty, and the sector in which they work. However, these professionals typically have the following responsibilities:
- Identifying individuals and communities who need support or counseling.
- Visiting clients and assessing their circumstances and needs.
- Providing support and working with clients to devise achievable goals and plans to meet them to adjust to challenges in life or overcome a crisis.
- Intervening in situations involving abuse, trauma, or mental health emergencies.
- Referring clients to other resources or specialists for assistance meeting identified needs.
- Monitoring clients’ progress and maintaining detailed records, case files and paperwork.
- Collaborating with the client’s family, friends, colleagues, and other professionals.
- Working with lawmakers or other organizations to develop and implement social programs or community resources.
- Providing psychotherapy or rehabilitation services directly to clients.
- Acting as an advocate to promote awareness of community needs and the client’s welfare.
- Attending or contributing to meetings or court cases.
The work that social workers carry out is extremely valuable to those in need, making it one of the most rewarding careers you can pursue.