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Social Work

Public Welfare

Area

  • Administration and Planning
  • Case Management
  • Program Evaluation
  • Policy Development
  • Research

Employer

  • Public welfare agencies
  • Private social service agencies
  • Local, state, and federal government including:
    • Department of Human Services
    • Department of Education
    • Veterans Administration
    • Indian Health Services
    • Administrative agencies
    • Job Corps
    • Head Start
    • State legislatures

Information/Strategies

  • Public welfare is designed to provide services and support for poor, disabled, ill, elderly, or juvenile clients.
  • Volunteer at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, battered women homes, literacy programs, or other social service agencies to get experience.
  • Four out of ten social workers work for the government.
  • Learn about the government application process and apply early as the process can take at least four to six months.
  • Complete an internship with the federal government.

Criminal Justice/Corrections

Area

  • Counseling/Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Probation
  • Parole
  • Youth Services
  • Victim Assistance
  • Drug Prevention

Employer

  • Prisons and correctional facilities
  • Courts
  • Police departments
  • Probation offices
  • Victim services organizations
  • Private treatment facilities

Information/Strategies

  • Social workers in corrections focus on rehabilitation of clients.
  • Obtain experience by volunteering at a corrections facility or victims’ program such as a rape crisis center.
  • Gain experience as a juvenile probation officer; many states allow reputable citizens to serve as volunteer officers.

School Social Work

Area

  • Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Pupil Personnel Services
  • Student Advocacy
  • Instruction
  • Assessment
  • Referral

Employer

  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • School districts
  • Head start centers
  • Early intervention programs

Information/Strategies

  • School systems may employ social workers to help students cope with and resolve emotional, developmental, or educational difficulties.
  • Gain experience with children at daycare centers, camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the like.
  • Volunteer with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  • Must obtain state certification for work in a school.
  • Check with each state to learn about requirements.

Clinical

Area

  • Therapy
  • Assessment
  • Case Management

Employer

  • Community mental health centers
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Behavioral health systems
  • Drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers
  • Residential and day treatment hospitals
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Schools
  • Family service agencies
  • Private practice

Information/Strategies

Administration

Area

  • Management
  • Policy Development
  • Planning
  • Supervision
  • Fundraising
  • Budgeting
  • Grant Writing

Employer

  • Family service agencies
  • Child welfare departments
  • Social service agencies
  • State mental health departments
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Probation departments
  • Public welfare agencies
  • Public interest groups
  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Residential and outpatient hospitals/treatment centers

Information/Strategies

  • Administrators are involved with planning, budgeting, public relations, marketing, supervising, operations management, fund raising, and other crucial responsibilities that keep an organization functioning.
  • Obtain an MSW and gain management experience.
  • Consider a minor in business during undergraduate education.

Research and Education

Area

  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Grant Writing
  • Supervision

Employer

  • Colleges and universities
  • Research institutes
  • Research hospitals
  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Advocacy organizations

Information/Strategies

  • Research provides data and statistics important in program implementation and policy development.
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required. Some teaching and adminstration positions may be available to MSW’s.
  • Gain research experience as an undergraduate by assisting professors with their work.

Vocational

Area

  • Counseling
  • Education
  • Wellness Promotion
  • Organizational Development
  • Assessment
  • Human Resources

Employer

  • Larger corporations
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Labor unions
  • Local, state, and federal government:
    • Department of Labor
  • Community agencies

Information/Strategies

  • Occupational social workers help employees to be more productive and satisfied.
  • Gain experience in a university or community career center while in school.
  • Earn a relevant certification such as Certified Employee Assistance Professional or Global Career Development Facilitator.

Healthcare

Area

  • Case Management
  • Counseling
  • Prevention and Education
  • Program Development
  • Administration
  • Research
  • Child Life Specialists
  • Hospice Care

Employer

  • Hospitals
  • Community health centers
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Public health programs
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Nursing homes
  • Group homes
  • Hospice
  • Veterans Administration hospitals
  • Home healthcare agencies

Information/Strategies

  • Social workers in healthcare facilitate medical and emotional treatment of patients. They may focus on helping clients and their families cope with acute or terminal illnesses by providing pyschosocial support.
  • Choose volunteer settings such as hospitals, the American Red Cross, or AIDS agencies to get experience.
  • Gain membership in the Association of Oncology Social Work or other relevant associations.

Community Organization

Area

  • Program and Community Development
  • Advocacy
  • Politics
  • Education
  • Planning

Employer

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Development corporations
  • Community centers
  • Local, state, and federal government
  • Associations

Information/Strategies

  • Social workers in this area work with existing organizations to improve conditions for specific groups, enhance quality of living, and involve community members in the political process.
  • Get involved with grassroots causes and community agencies.
  • Participate in local government and gain knowledge about city planning.

Gerontology

Area

  • Advocacy/Intervention
  • Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Programming
  • Public Policy
  • Administration

Employer

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Senior centers
  • Assisted living
  • Hospice
  • Home healthcare agencies

Information/Strategies

  • Gerontology involves working with older adults, healthy or ill, and their families.
  • Get involved with programs or organizations designed for senior citizens.
  • Join the American Society on Aging.
  • Gain Social Work credentials oriented toward gerontology.

Child Welfare

Area

  • Case Management
  • Advocacy
  • Intervention
  • Supervision

Employer

  • Local, state, and federal government including:
    • Department of Children’s Services
  • Public and private child welfare agencies
  • Adoption agencies
  • Foster care organizations
  • Child daycare

Information/Strategies

  • Child welfare social workers strive to ensure the safety and well-being of children through treatment of the whole family.
  • Volunteer at daycares, child shelters, camps, YMCA, Scouts, or other agencies that aid youth.
  • Gain licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) after graduating from a master’s program in Social Work.

Developmental Disabilities

Area

  • Case Management
  • Program Planning and Evaluation
  • Research
  • Policy Development

Employer

  • Community residential homes
  • State and local agencies
  • Medical facilities
  • Schools
  • Colleges and universities

Information/Strategies

  • Social workers in this area help people with disabilities to adjust and to lead productive lives.
  • Volunteer at camps for people with disabilities, daycares, schools, or hospitals to gain experience.

International Social Work

Area

  • Humanitarian Services
  • Advocacy
  • Education
  • Wellness Promotion
  • Development: Economic and Community
  • Disaster/Disease Relief
  • Volunteer Coordination
  • Program Administration
  • Clinical Practice
  • Policy Development
  • Research

Employer

  • International Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) such as United Nations Economic and Social Council and the World Health Organization
  • International Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Federal government agencies with an international focus, e.g. Peace Corps and United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Country-based service agencies
  • International aid and relief organizations
  • Foundation programs
  • Nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations, .e.g Vital Voices or Habitat for Humanity
  • Private voluntary organizations
  • Humanitarian organizations, e.g. International Red Cross and CARE
  • Religious organizations, e.g. World Vision
  • Multi-national corporations

Information/Strategies

General Information and Strategies

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) prepares individuals for entry-level direct practice.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) is necessary to provide therapy and for advancement to supervisory or administrative positions.
  • Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) or Ph.D. usually required for positions in teaching, research, and administration. Advanced degrees are desirable for some clinical positions and private practice.
  • Complete a degree from a college or university program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Programs include practical field experience.
  • Most states require licensure, certification, or registration.
  • The National Association of Social Workers offers many specialized credentials that Social Workers can earn. Research these options after choosing a speciality area.
  • The field practicum is used to determine suitability for this profession and to provide exposure to various practice settings and clients.
  • Candidates should possess empathy for others, an appreciation for diversity, and an interest in social change.
  • Social workers serve a range of client systems (individuals, families, groups, communities) as they attempt to enhance social functioning.
  • Social work is unique given its dual focus on the person and the environment.
  • Join a social work organization while in school and seek leadership positions.
  • Look for ways to impact your community and get involved with local organizations and issues.
  • Update your resume as you acquire new accomplishments, skills, knowledge, and interests.
  • Learn a second language to better communicate with immigrant or migrant populations (particularly helpful in certain areas of the United States).
  • Note: Much of this information was adapted from Choices: Careers in Social Work by the National Association of Social Workers.
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