Can I Afford It
There is a good chance you will lose money by going back to school. If you are enrolling in a full-time MSW program, this most likely will necessitate doing a field work/internship experience each semester, in addition to attending a full schedule of classes. Completing these tasks AND working a full-time nine-to-five job may be unrealistic. Youll need to decide whether you want to take out loans, apply for a graduate assistantship through the university, or arrange with your employer for a sabbatical or part time work option while you go to school. In some cases, your employer may be able to financially assist with your education!
Many second career social workers who come from the private sector will take a pay cut in order to switch careers. Assess your finances and make sure you are able to meet your responsibilities and live within your means if you are making a smaller salary.
One important exception to this might be someone in another helping profession. Even for masters-level counselors, an MSW may substantially increase marketability. In some states, social workers have a lot more independence than counselors. This varies by state, so its important to do your research.
What To Consider When Switching To Social Work
The process of changing careers can be daunting, after all, there is a lot to consider when making this decision. But dont let the fear of missing something or not knowing exactly how things will turn out, paralyze you into not making any decision. If you are unhappy or unsatisfied with your current job, you have the power to make a change for the better!
That being said, the decision to change careers should not be taken lightly. Here are a few things you should think through when considering a switch to social work.
Final Tips On Switching Careers From Social Work
It is never too late to look at alternative careers from social work and put your degree to another use in your community. If you find you want to put your efforts into helping people in other ways, then go for it.
Make sure to look at all the options available to you, get advice from the Career Karma community, and enter a career that you find emotionally and financially worthwhile.
No matter what career path you choose, your social worker skills will open up plenty of doors. If you are still searching for more details on the best MSW online programs, additional skills for your resume, or other related topics, then browse the Career Karma website.
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About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.
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We Prepare You For Any Of Three Career Trajectories And Each Of Those Trajectories Has Multiple Options With Your Bsw Degree You Can Enter Into Generalist Social Work Practice
- pursue your MSW, or
- seek career opportunities or graduate education in communications, corrections, education, government, health care, human resources, or many other areas.
As a BSW social worker, you are able to help lots of people: those with disabilities or facing life-threatening illnesses. Those suffering from poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, or mental illness. Those who have experienced domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual assault.
And youll have options in the type of work you do. You might work as a case manager, in a residential program, as a counselor, as an advocate. You can be employed by numerous services and agencies:
- Advocacy programs
- Substance abuse programs
Alternative Jobs To Pursue With A Social Work Degree
A degree in social work can lead to a rewarding and lucrative career. Social workers often choose their career path based on the populations they want to work with or their desired work environment. They usually specialize in one area of the field, such as healthcare, children and family social work, or mental health. Depending on their concentration, social workers earn a median annual wage of $46,650-$61,230.
Social workers also develop many essential skills that can serve them well in outside jobs similar to social work. Professionals with training in social work may pursue an alternative career path for many different reasons, including low pay, long hours, or insufficient support in the work environment. Unfortunately, due to these stressors in the workplace, emotional burnout is also a notable factor in some social workers’ decisions to change careers.
This guide offers information on career change options for social workers, based on advice from three experts in the field. This guide also explores the phenomenon of social worker burnout and how to prevent it. Finally, we take a close look at eight popular alternative careers for social workers and how the skills they develop in the field prepare them for these outside roles.
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Licenses Certifications And Registrations
All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. Some states also require nonclinical social workers to have a license or credential.
Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a masters degree in social work from an accredited program and supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.
Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state licensure board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, visit the Association of Social Work Boards.
How Do I Choose A Social Work Job Or Career
Different social work careers require different types of education. Social workers range in education levels, from bachelors degrees all the way up to doctorates. The more educated a social worker becomes, the more they can specialize in their career.
So, how do you choose the right career and education for yourself? And what are some of the best social work careers? With so many potential options, that choice can get difficult. There are more social work career options than many people realize, so a degree in social work can lead down many possible pathways.
The question of which careers are the best social work careers is subjective. Each social worker will find fulfillment in different areas, and what works for one person may not work for another. Start by thinking about your passions. For example, do you have a passion for working with children? Reducing the stigma around mental healthcare? Fighting for disability rights? Start with your passion, and look for careers that will let you work with that passion.
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Preparing For A Career
Social workers typically must have a bachelors or masters degree to enter the occupation. They also may need other credentials, such as a state-issued license or certification, depending on the state and the job. For example, in Wisconsin, where Green works, school social workers must be licensed licensure requires a masters degree that includes specific coursework and a practicum.
Table 2 highlights the percentage of social workers requiring at least a masters degree, a license, or prior work experience in 2017, according to BLS.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers
Licensing data not available. However, about 61 percent of mental health and substance abuse social workers needed some form of pre-employment training, which includes licenses.
Although Landau doesn’t need a graduate degree for his current job, he’s enrolled in a social work master’s program. He plans to become a licensed clinical social worker, a credential that he hopes will broaden his career options for helping others. Its one thing to say you want to make the world a better place, but its another to be in the trenches and see people make changes, says Landau. Its challenging, but its also very rewarding to see the outcome of the work that you do.
Start Your Transition Into A More Fulfilling Career
Its important to first see why you want to leave social work, and determine what type of environment youd prefer working in. A good tip is to picture how youd like to feel in your career, and then begin to match up different careers that can help get you to that feeling. For example, if you want to feel more freedom with your schedule, you may pursue social entrepreneurship. Or maybe you want to have an impact on as many people as possible. If so, politics could be for you.
Whichever direction you go, its important to remember to believe in yourself. Youll be in a new environment and depending on how long youve been in social work, a change can be intimidating. But just like anything in life, with practice it will become an environment youre comfortable in. So, take the leapit’s never too late. There are always new opportunities available, you just have to intentionally take action towards them.
If you want to explore other options, weve got tons of bootcamps designed to land you work fast. We offer full-time and part-time studies, so you can make it work with your work schedule. Plus, you dont have to pay until youve landed a position in your fieldand if you dont, you dont pay a cent. So, we hope that this has been helpful and were cheering you on during your transition.
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Forget About Your Age What About Your Health
Age is just a number and it doesnt necessarily mean much. Whats more important is how youre feeling, both physically and emotionally. How is your energy level? How well do you handle stress? Are you a good role-juggler? Do you handle change well?
Our clients know even better than we do how challenging it is to make big changes to our personal and professional lives. As social workers, its our job to support them through making those changes. This support starts with being a good role model and considering all factors before making changes. Social work is a rewarding field, but its hard work! Before you apply to a MSW program, be sure that this career change fits in with the rest of your life.
Social Work Is Ideal For Career Changers
So, you have identified your motivations for switching careers and what you want out of your new job, but what makes social work a good field for career changers? A few factors are: It is flexible, highly versatile, and interdisciplinary.
Social work careers are flexible, as these professionals spend a lot of their time meeting with clients and operate on a fluid schedule. Additionally, if a social worker opens their own clinical practice, they have the freedom to set their hours to meet their personal obligations.
Social work careers exist in several different job fields and settings including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, state and local government agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, community development corporations, prisons, and private practices. This means prior job experience can easily transfer to a new line of work, and the plethora of options makes it possible to find a job anywhere in the nation.
A career in social work is interdisciplinary, meaning that it relies on the professionals knowledge of different subjects and how those various disciplines collaborate to achieve the desired outcome. Those who switch into social work come from all different career paths and backgrounds. From government positions and corporate offices, to sales jobs and education professionals, individuals who desire to help others and make a difference in the world around them find a fresh start in social work.
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Executive Director Social Services Organizations
Executive directors take on a major leadership role in social services organizations. As a result, they have a lot of responsibilities, including the following:
- Creating and organizing programs
- Communicating with the public about the organization
- Researching and organizing data
- Identifying people who may require services
Those responsibilities can vary. A lot of the work depends on the organization. Executive directors generally oversee social services organizations, including private companies, nonprofits, and government agencies.
Salary Expectation: Salary varies based on the type of workplace, but executive directors make an average of $72,900.
Hospice And Palliative Social Workers
The classification of hospice and palliative social workers falls within the category of health care social work. Their responsibility is to help patients and their families cope with a terminal illness. Hospice and palliative social workers provide grief counseling or connect patients and their loved ones to outside resources that may include support groups.
Our Introductory Guide to Hospice and Palliative Social Work describes the work settings and responsibilities of hospice and palliative care social workers and explains the rewards and difficulties of the profession. This article also explains how individuals can prepare for a career in hospice social work.
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Private Practice Social Workers
Depending on state regulations, private practice social workers may offer clinical and nonclinical services. Clinical work may involve counseling and providing psychotherapy to individuals, couples, families and groups. Nonclinical services may include mediation, education and conflict resolution, among others.
Our Introductory Guide to Private Practice Social Work explores different types of private practices that licensed clinical social workers can establish, the kinds of client populations they can assist, and the challenges and rewards of starting ones own private psychotherapy practice.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Licensed clinical social workers generally work as counselors. They help people navigate mental health struggles, tough circumstances, traumas, and transitions. They can also be case managers or part of a research team. Licensed clinical social workers take a social work approach to treating clients, whereas a psychologist might take a different approach, such as a behavioral approach. Licensed clinical social workers may also focus on their clients strengths, helping clients leverage their own strengths to take control of difficult situations. The minimum education needed is an LCSW masters degree.
Salary Expectation: Licensed clinical social workers make between $40,740 and $70,660 per year.
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Social Work Careers By Specialty
MSW graduates typically work in specialty fields, such as child and family services, geriatrics, mental health and substance abuse, or education. While most social workers who specialize in specific fields hold an advanced degree, graduates with a bachelor’s degree can also work in niche areas.
Earning the corresponding NASW credential gives a social worker the professional recognition to work in case management, gerontology, hospice and palliative care, or youth and family services. Most NASW certifications require a master’s degree. However, graduates who hold a bachelor’s degree can qualify for certain NASW certifications, such as social work case managers. These credentials let employers know that social workers meet industry standards.
Licensed school social workers often hold a master’s degree, though specific requirements vary by state. The BLS reports that school social workers make a median annual salary of $47,390. Most CSWE-surveyed school social workers work in elementary schools and preschools.
Mental Health Social Worker
When hiring mental health social workers, many employers require a master’s degree and a license. In some states, a bachelor’s degree may suffice, though mental health social workers without licenses and an advanced degree may be limited to performing certain responsibilities.
Substance Abuse Social Worker
Healthcare Social Worker
Clinical Social Worker
Social and Community Service Manager
Social Work Teacher
How To Make A Career Change From Social Work
Making a career change can be a challenging and frightening process, especially if you have no experience in the career path you want to pursue. Career transitions are not just about switching jobs but involve considering how you want to feel while working. For these reasons, you should make a career change in the right way.
Here are some steps to consider if you want to make a successful career change from the field of social work.
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Multiple Program Formats Available
Various institutions offer both bachelors and masters-level degrees in social work in a variety of formats. Youll find all-residential programs, all-online programs, and even hybrid programs .
You can even find innovative program formats that are built for students with some previous study or experience in the social sciences. These programs can allow students to complete their bachelors degree in much less time, using previous experience to offset some of the credit load.
What Do Social Work Graduates Do
The majority of social work graduates in employment in the UK are working as welfare professionals 15 months after graduation. Welfare and housing associate professionals , care workers , teaching and childcare support occupations and managers and proprietors in health and care services are also among the top five most popular jobs held by social work graduates.
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Many Jobs For Social Workers Are Achieved By Education Level
Once youve looked into some career options, consider the educational requirements for those careers. Different careers require different degrees. Are you able to push toward a doctorate degree right now, or is it more realistic for you to stop at a bachelors degree? A doctorate degree will cost more time and money, but doctorate-level careers pay more than careers that require a bachelors or masters degree.
Next, weigh the pros and cons of the different commitment levels as you explore specific career options. Look up typical job descriptions, time commitments, and other factors that could impact your career choice.
Salary may also play a big part in your decision. Consider where you live or where you plan to live. What is the cost of living there? Will you need a high-paying career to make ends meet? The best social work careers for you will be careers that pay a livable wage.