According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the social work industry is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026. Their site notes that this rate is “much faster than the average for all occupations.” Naturally, the demand for social workers will vary depending on the specialization. But for students who are undecided about a major or who are considering a master’s, studies in social work might be worth considering.
What encompasses a career in social work?
The breadth of social work includes a variety of specializations. Career professionals who choose this line of work are individuals who value working for the greater good of a community. Additionally, people in this field often are empathetic and have a passion for helping others.
There are a variety of fields social workers can engage in. Here are the primary 3 fields:
Public health social workers. Individuals who choose this sector help to prevent health issues within communities. For example, figuring out the needs of a certain demographic and developing ways that their needs can be addressed at a community level. Duties might also include assisting individuals in recovery from a challenging life event. Job openings are available in hospitals, senior living facilities, hospice care, and government. For instance, social workers might be asked to help families who are looking for senior facilities for their elderly parents. The social worker might recommend the inquirer to go through a listing of elderly living facilities. Or the social worker might point the person to useful information that can help in the care of seniors.
Mental health social workers. Individuals in this field help those who are struggling with addictions and behavioral issues. Along with other emotional and mental difficulties. Careers in this sector might include a job in a hospital, a family service agency, a prison, government agencies, or NPO groups. The awareness of the need for mental health support has slowly taken root in the corporate sector. Some businesses and organizations are creating mental health policies. Mental health social workers occasionally aid in the creation of such plans.
Social workers for children, families, or schools. Social workers in this sector provide knowledge and assistance in improving the lives of children. They also focus on the environment and surroundings that the children are raised in. For example, by assessing the school and home life of the child in question. Social workers may help in cases of adoption, abuse, or other unsafe home situations. They may be called on to provide counsel at a school where drugs, bullying, or other issues create a turbulent atmosphere for students.
Challenges facing social workers
In a Social Work Today article, the challenges of being a social worker were discussed. Social workers are often required to put themselves into dangerous situations on the behalf of clients. For example, home visits to determine if abuse is occurring. These visits and other circumstances can increase the risk to social workers.
One of the biggest hurdles in social worker safety is convincing those in this profession that caution is needed and necessary. The article goes on to state that many social workers lack the awareness that such workplace violence may affect them.
Education can help social workers understand the risks and take preventative measures to reduce such risks.
Indiana University social work program details
The Master of Social Work program provided by Indiana University is one of the top-ranked in the country, according to US News & World Report. Among IU graduates, 8000 alumni are now working in the social work field.
IU offers the following degrees and certificates that are in high demand in the social work sector:
Bachelor of Social Work. In this program, students learn, assess, and engage in social work best practices. They develop the ability to work with families, organizations, and communities. The IU BSW program also offers internships where students receive hands-on training from veterans.
Master of Social Work. This IU Master of Social Work program can be completed in 3 years and has a concentration in social work in a clinical and a community practice. It is also accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Professional social workers work in all levels of government and education. Those with MSW degrees often continue to a political or legislative career.
Certificate in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling. This certificate program provides knowledge in both concepts and application of addiction counseling. Students learn the detriments to alcohol and drug abuse. They receive current information on treatments for reversing drug and alcohol addiction. They learn how to interact with addicts and how to communicate with treatment facilities.