What Can You Do with a Social Work Degree?


Social work is an academic discipline and profession that concerns itself with individuals, families, groups, and communities in an effort to enhance social functioning and overall well-being.

As you decide to work as a social worker you’ll work with people getting through difficulties and challenges.

Such challenges may be medical crises or mental health illnesses.

You will also work with children, who became orphans, people who battle dependency, referred inmates returning to the free world and other people who suffer the hardships.

As you have already understood there is a lot of work in this field.

Read our article to discover what employment possibilities you will have after getting the social worker educational degree.

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What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?

Accreditation means that the university or separate program or discipline matches to the standards and requirements set forth by the Department of Education.

It is also referred to as a stamp of approval of the quality of education in a university given by an accrediting agency.

Your future employers will definitely take into account the authority of educational institution you graduated from.

The accreditation is given by the accrediting agencies that were entitled by the Department of Education to revise the educational institutions.

Regional and national accrediting agencies give accreditation to the universities and programs of study.

However, only accredited universities can get financial aid from the country.

In addition, there are two kinds of accreditation program accreditation and institutional accreditation.

First one is the accreditation given to the specific degree program or discipline.

Second is a school-wide and is given to the whole university in general.

For you to know, there are two groups of agencies in the institutional accrediting sector:  regional and national accrediting agencies.

Usually, the approval of a regional accrediting agency is a better indicator for the university, as it confers credibility and reputation.

There are one national agency and a list of most well-known regional agencies for you to search colleges and universities with their approval:

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is considered to be a preeminent accrediting agency in the field.

CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation (COA) is responsible for developing accreditation standards that ensure that social work programs meet the requirements, according to the opinion of the Council.

A stamp of approval of your program degree from the CSWEcan means a lot for your employer.

That’s why it is absolutely imperative that you make sure your school has the proper accreditation before you proceed.

Among Regional Accrediting Agencies the most well-known are:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Program Accreditation
  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

What Kinds of Social Work Degrees Are There?

The Degree of an Associate in Social Work

The Degree of an Associate in Social Work is the threshold to the future career in social work.

This course usually takes 2 years to complete.

Unfortunately, these two years will not afford you to work in the field, but it will be a great advantage for your future bachelor’s degree, as you will already know most of the basics of the program.

During the study as an associate you will take the next courses:

  • Introduction to Health and Human Services
  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Public Health Issues
  • Principles of Sociology
  • Introduction to Psychology

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW, BASWs or BSSW)

The Bachelor of Social Work is a basic degree which takes 4 years to complete and will give you an opportunity to start working in the sphere of social work.

You will learn subjects like social policy, community building, organizational management, topics in healthcare and family dynamics, to name a few.

Moreover, there are a few accredited online BSW programs after you earned your associate degree.

During your bachelor’s degree course, you will be able to intern and work as a volunteer to get a better experience.

The degree of a bachelor is absolutely essential if you want to continue studying and get a master’s degree in social work.

Again though, check the existence of the stamp of approval of your bachelor’s program before you start.

During the study for a bachelor you will listen to such courses:

  • History of Social Welfare
  • Human Behavior
  • Field Practicum
  • Communication in Social Work Practices
  • Introduction to Social Work
  • Issues in Global Economics
  • Communities and Organizations
  • Issues in Addiction
  • Social Statistics
  • Seminar in Social Work Practice
  • Foundations of Social Justice

The Difference Between a BSW, a BASW, and a BSSW

The Bachelor of Social Work is simply a standard course in the field of social work.

BSW covers knowledge, skills, and practice of the profession and also provides possibilities for hand-on practice.

BSW includes areas like human behavior, urban development, community outreach, and family therapy.

Meanwhile, the Bachelor of Science in Social Work can seem to be quite similar, though may offer a sharper focus on practice and experience.

On the other hand, the Bachelor of Art is aimed at liberal arts like English or psychology and humanities.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

The advanced degree in social work is a master’s degree.

This kind of degree is required for working in the fields of clinical settings, healthcare, and educational institutions.

To complete your master’s degree program you will need to prepare your own work and make research.

The master’s degree will give you a chance to get a high salary and great opportunities for promotion.

Within your MSW you will be expected to choose between micro- and macro-level studies.

The micro-level studies will orientate you on counseling and hand-on work, while the macro-level studies will be targeted at organizational and management leadership.

Moreover, master of social work degree can be an alternative to a psychology degree.

In case you intend to work as a clinical social worker it’s also essential for you to get your MSW.

What’s the difference between a clinical and a non-clinical social worker?

On the one hand, the non-clinical worker will often function as a counselor.

On the other hand, a clinical social worker will have the training and qualifications to offer medical advice and therapeutic treatment.

For you to be a clinical worker you should get your Master’s Degree from a CSWE accredited school.

A clinical social worker is a healthcare or mental health professional that provides treatment and service.

Courses that you will take during obtaining your master’s degree:

  • Philosophy of Social Welfare
  • American Racism and Social Work
  • Policy Practice
  • Human Services Management
  • Child, Youth, and Family Therapy
  • Issues of Race and Gender
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Human Behavior in the Social Environment
  • Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice

What’s the Difference Between a DSW and the Ph.D. in Social Work?

If you want to get contemplating doctoral levels in social work, you have two main options: a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. in Social Work.

These two levels are orientated on the enhancement of the clinical practice skills and gaining the experience in the development and managing of social service programs.

The main difference is that a Ph.D. will contribute to public policy and research in the field.


What Kind of Licensing or Certification Do You Need?

You are required to get certain licenses in order to practice social work at a clinical level.

These licenses will vary from state to state, so you will need to check the requirements of the Social Work Board of Licensure to get the details.

For example, there exist some mandatory licenses for practice.

For candidates who are seeking for the work with no experience the licensing called a Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA) is required.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) is given to the bachelors and is required for practicing non-clinical social work services, such as case management and administrative supervision.

Eventually, licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) is granted to masters in social work and is given to the practice of advanced non-clinical social work.

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What Can You Do With This Degree?

A social work degree opens you a wide spectrum of work opportunities.

You can find a job among the common occupations in social work, named underneath:

  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Correctional Treatment Specialist
  • Health Educator
  • Social/Human Services Assistant
  • Social Worker
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Social/Community Service Manager
  • Marriage/Family Therapist
  • Probation Officer
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Behavioral Disorder Counselor

How Much Can You Make With This Degree?

The size of your salary is closely related to your level of educational attainment and experience.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports about the size of wages at each level of educational degree:

  • Social and Human Service Assistants (H.S. Diploma or Associate’s Degree) – $31,810 per year/$15.29 per hour
  • Social Worker (Bachelor’s Degree) – $46,890 per year/$22.54 per hour
  • Healthcare Social Workers (Master’s Degree) – $53,760 per year/$25.85 per hour

What Professional Associations or Societies Should You Join?

There are a lot of professional associations and societies you can decide to join, as they are a perfect way to get to the professional community and have new acquaintances.

Moreover, within the attendance of all of them, you can listen to lectures, seminars, join meetings and simply exchange your experience with your colleges.

The largest community is the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) as there are more than 130 000 members.

This community established professional standards in the field and is reliable for the advancement of social policies.

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a national accrediting agency and community which is reliable for the improvement of the quality of social work education.

There are also other associations which we can’t help but mention:

  • Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA)
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA)
  • National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW)
  • North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NACSW)
  • Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA)

Summary

So, now you are acquainted with the particularities of the kinds of degrees in social work.

You also know now the opportunities that you will get after completion of each of the degrees.

We hope that our material was interesting and useful for your future education.


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