Last updated 4th Oct 2022
Becoming a social worker is a truly admirable choice. These workers play a very important role in the health of America's social system. Unfortunately, these professionals are also notoriously underpaid, and that hurts both the perception of this industry as well as their clients.
Social Work ValuesPerhaps the best way to gain a better appreciation for the value that social workers bring is to take a look at the Code of Ethics published by the National Association of Social Workers:
- Social Justice
- Dignity and Worth of the Person
- Importance of Human Relationships
Areas of ExpertiseSocial workers play a critical role in helping those that are in need. Generally, these roles fall into one of the following seven categories:
- Child Welfare: ensuring the proper raising and protection of children.
- Family Services: providing families with a variety of help, ranging from budgeting to finding employment.
- Mental Health: providing help to those with emotional or mental problems.
- Education: helping students with behavioral problems, attendance issues, and pregnancies.
- Criminal Justice: services that are provided to inmates and their families.
- Gerontology: helping families and other caregivers of elderly parents.
- Private Practice: workers that have set up their own private practices that may specialize in one or more of the above areas.
LicensingThe responsibility for social work licensing rests with governing bodies at the state level. These laws will determine the process for granting licenses, the required recordkeeping, and the handling of complaints. Some states may have several levels of licensing. To find out the specifics for a particular state, contact the state's licensing board. Prior to, and after, requesting material from the state board, start putting together an approach to meeting the state's requirements. For example:
- Does a worker need to be licensed in the specific area in which they intend to practice?
- Are there an examination and / or educational requirements for social workers?
- What proof or background materials need to be submitted to the state agency?
Finding Employment OpportunitiesThere are two excellent online resources available to anyone looking for a job as a social worker:
- NASW Clinical Register Search: this online database is compiled and published by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
- Social Work and Social Services Jobs Online: maintained by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work Search, the SWSSJO database provides job listings by location or by keyword.
Who Needs Social WorkersEveryone needs the help of social workers. There is probably not a community in America that does not value their help. It is needed to deal with the stress that everyday living throws our way, and their help is needed in times of emergencies. The American Red Cross also depends on licensed social workers when dealing with national emergencies such as hurricanes and flooding. The contributions to society are something to be proud of for anyone thinking about entering this profession and those already taking part in what has become such a critical role in America.
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