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How to Become a Social Worker

Becoming a social worker can give you the opportunity to make a lasting impact in your community. Through an engaging, comprehensive social work degree program, you can forge a career path for yourself that helps improve the wellbeing of individuals and families. Here, we'll explore the field, educational social work programs, job opportunities, and more.

One of the best ways to affect real change is through relationships. Becoming a social worker can give you the opportunity to make a lasting impact in your community. 

What Does a Social Worker Do?

Social workers are professionals tasked with guiding individuals, families, and communities with complex needs throughout the community. Depending on the specialty, a typical day for a social worker may include:

  • Providing Drug and Alcohol treatment to individuals struggling with addiction
  • Utilizing Trauma-Informed Care as a best practice
  • Providing support to, and encouraging, at-risk students to stay in school
  • Providing assessment and psychotherapy in community centers
  • Researching, referring, and advocating for community resources for vulnerable and oppressed individuals and families
  • Connecting incarcerated individuals to re-entry resources
  • Providing child-welfare services; including adoption assistance
  • Developing and evaluating programs and services to ensure that basic client needs are met
  • Advocating for policy change on the local, state, and federal levels
  • Working on interprofessional teams and leading organizations to fulfill their mission and goals
  • Organizing groups, task forces, and communities for social change events and movements

Rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools, and governmental organizations are just some of the settings that require social work services. In the areas where people experiencing hardships need it most, social workers are there to help relieve suffering, improve quality of life, and offer valuable support. 

Earn Your Bachelor of Social Work Degree

The accredited BSW degree is highly marketable and prepares you for state licensure at the bachelor level.  Most social work positions require a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree at minimum. Students can use this degree to enter the workforce directly out of college and pursue an advanced degree in the future. Education includes intensive coursework, in addition to a senior level, 400-hour, field practicum experience in an agency.  Some of the areas covered through the MVNU BSW program include:

  • Social Justice and Advocacy
  • Social Science Research Methods
  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Work with Individuals; Groups & Families; and Organizations and Communities;
  • Analysis of Social Policy

Already have a Bachelors? Earn Your MBA in Human and Social Services Leadership

Students who already have their BSW or a related bachelor's degree can broaden their horizons through continuing education. With an MBA in Human and Social Services Leadership, graduates can pursue upper-level positions that affect social change in careers they find personally and financially rewarding. This program includes in-depth coursework that focuses on non-therapeutic, direct services, such as:

  • Secondary trauma support
  • Ethical leadership
  • Evidence-based practice and program evaluation

Through an advanced degree program, students prepare for more complex positions in nonprofit, governmental, and social services organizations.
 

Social Work Licensure and Job Outlook

The good news for students with a BSW degree is that they can qualify for licensure in many states. While a Master of Social Work (MSW) is required for independent clinical social work licensure, professionals who hold a BSW can dive into the field and enjoy a diverse range of employment opportunities that are vital to communities and positively impact the lives of those in need. According to the National Association of Social Workers¹, earning potential varies based on location, degree level, and specialty. Some of the positions in this field for a BSW-degree holder include:

  • School Social Worker
  • Children Services Worker
  • Family Advocacy Representative
  • Family Preservation Services Coordinator
  • Outpatient Health Specialist
  • Parole Officer
  • Policy Planning Specialist
  • Human Service Worker
  • Information and Referral Specialist
  • Job Coach
  • Legal service agencies
  • Life Skills Counselor
  • Behavioral Management Specialist 
  • Community Outreach Specialist
  • Case Manager 
  • Juvenile Court Liaison
  • Victim Advocate
  • Probation officer 

The social work profession is expected to grow by up to 14% throughout the next 10 years2, creating numerous opportunities for people with BSW and a strong desire to promote social welfare, help families overcome challenges, advocate for change, and more.  

Find an Online Social Work Program at MVNU

At Mount Vernon Nazarene University, we're proud to offer an online bachelor's degree in social work that helps students achieve a professional position in service to others. Whether you're switching careers or starting fresh, the flexibility of online classes can help make the challenges of balancing an in-depth curriculum and a busy schedule easier. Connect with us to learn about Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) today. 
 

Additional Information

1. https://www.socialworkers.org/Careers/Career-Center/Kickstart-Your-Job-Hunt/Social-Work-Salaries

2. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm#tab-6

Online Social Work Programs

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