Opportunities for professional social work lie in several areas, including schools, medical fields, universities, government organizations and non-profit groups. Social work can be of diverse nature with different types of activities presenting different exciting opportunities and challenges. Social workers mostly work in coordination with individuals, families, organizations and groups. People holding degree programs are better equipped with the right knowledge and tools to deal with challenges in any kind of a set-up. It is mandatory for a social worker to have basic awareness about human development and psychology and as such courses in these fields are also required. There are specialized courses on handling specific issues such as family dynamics and child welfare that are also available for those interested in pursuing social work.
In order to become a qualified social worker in the United States, a person needs to hold a bachelor's degree in social work from an accredited institute. Most organizations in diverse sectors, including health and welfare services, public agencies, courts, police departments and other bodies, hire people with bachelor’s degree as social workers to fill up entry-level positions. Graduate degree prepares an individual to perform general functions and fill up direct service positions. By undertaking a four-year bachelor degree in social work, a person can acquire theoretical knowledge through in-class coursework and also get a good field experience.
A master's degree in social work is the minimum eligibility requirement for advanced professional social work. It prepares an individual to get the right knowledge, skills and ethics to take on any form of social work. For those with a plan to establish themselves in the field of social work and reap rich benefits for the long-term should hold a master’s degree to ensure their career advancement. There are some recognized courses that span over two years and includes in-house training and provide a minimum of 900 hours of supervised internships. Some accredited institutes have on offer 16-month educational programs, advanced standing programs and also part-time courses that span over a period of four years. Admission in to a master’s degree program does not always require a bachelor's degree in social work. Students holding bachelor’s degree in other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, biology, political science and economics can also get an entry into a master's degree program. However, those with bachelor’s degree in social work may be given a preference during the selection process.
Students, who have enrolled for master's degree in social work, can get a thorough knowledge in specialized topics, including poverty, drug abuse, alcohol, family therapy, violence and sexual abuse. Courses in environment, and macro social work practices clinical social work practice also form a part of the curriculum of master degree program. Students of master degree program will also get the chance to study legislative, financial and behavioral aspects of social work. Master program also entail field education that is designed to offer students the opportunity to executive things that they have learnt in the classroom to human service settings. However, field instructions vary from school to school.
Depending upon one’s interest, an individual will be assigned work for their field placement. People can work for residential setting, private groups or communities. Those with keen interest in administrative aspects can try their hand in areas that require planning, management, policy advocacy, research and even human service administration.
Graduates in social work can work in supervisory, clinical administrative and staff training positions, while those holding a master's degree can explore more avenues in private as well as public agencies and occupy prominent positions in institutes and health departments. Degree in social work can fetch good position in school and health settings and also public and private organizations. A large number of graduates operate in hospitals, mental clinics, nursing homes, police departments and courts, private businesses while a few simply opt for their own private practice.
A doctorate’s degree is a good option to continue studies for those holding a master’s degree. The most lucrative career options in diverse fields are open to people possessing doctorate in social work. This degree also makes a person capable of holding authoritative positions of a university teacher, researcher and an executive in organizations carrying out social work.
To get into an accredited doctorate of social work program, one has to possess a master's degree in social work or in a related discipline. One also needs to show the capability to carry on independent research, provide a number of references and get good scores in a graduate exam. Eligibility requirements for getting admitted vary in each school and once admitted, a person has to prepare himself for intensive coursework and challenging dissertation.
The doctorate of social work encompasses coursework, assessments, research session and a dissertation. Courses in the history of social welfare, statistics, research methods, social work method specialization and also relevant social science theories form a vital part of the curriculum.
Degree holders in social work can occupy good positions and work in diverse range of settings not only in the US but also across reputed organizations in the world. Most graduates in social work take up positions for carrying out research and teach in universities and research-based institutes. Common careers for degree holders of social work program also include policy analyst, clinical instructor, administrator and researcher in public or private bodies.