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When you are look­ing into career oppor­tu­ni­ties, you may have ques­tions about the appro­pri­ate under­grad­u­ate degree to reach your goals. What is a degree in social work? Is social work for me? These ques­tions may help you eval­u­ate when to pur­sue a degree that allows you to work with oth­ers and help them with con­cerns that may arise.

A degree in social work refers to a bach­e­lor’s degree from an accred­it­ed uni­ver­si­ty that focus­es on social work as an indus­try and field of study. When you ask should I become a social work­er or should I be a social work­er, you must eval­u­ate your goals. At the under­grad­u­ate lev­el, a social work­er may work in men­tal health, aging ser­vices, or child and fam­i­ly ser­vices. In most cas­es, you would work under a spe­cial­ist or you work with­in an orga­ni­za­tion to pro­vide spe­cif­ic ser­vices to your clients.

Social work­ers help oth­ers in a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent set­tings and envi­ron­ments. An under­grad­u­ate degree in social work pre­pares you to work in dif­fer­ent fields or indus­tries. The chal­lenge is ensur­ing that you are pre­pared for the rig­ors of your career before move for­ward with your plans for your edu­ca­tion. If you want to work with oth­ers and help them suc­ceed, over­come obsta­cles, or get through a dif­fi­cult time, then social work may be the right degree to help with your long-term goals.

Accreditation and Education

A crit­i­cal part of eval­u­at­ing a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty for your social work degree is the accred­i­ta­tion of the pro­gram. You do not want to attend any col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty that does not have accred­i­ta­tion for social work pro­grams. If the school is not accred­it­ed, then it may hin­der your career objec­tives or even result in los­ing opportunities.

As a gen­er­al rule, social work accred­i­ta­tion that you want in a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty is through the Coun­cil on Social Work Edu­ca­tion, or CSWE. The best online schools for bach­e­lor’s in social work will also have CSWE accred­i­ta­tion for the pro­gram, so you want to look into the school’s accred­i­ta­tion and standards.

Social work school accred­i­ta­tion from the Coun­cil on Social Work Edu­ca­tion ensures that the school meets or exceeds the stan­dards set by the accred­it­ing body. You do not need to wor­ry that you will not find a pro­gram that fits your goals. The accred­it­ing body has rec­og­nized more than 500 under­grad­u­ate pro­grams across the coun­try for their social work programs.

Even if you are look­ing into the best online school for social work degree pro­grams, you will find that the online pro­grams also meet or exceed the accred­i­ta­tion stan­dards. Before you final­ize a school for your edu­ca­tion, look for the accred­i­ta­tion and make sure that the school is appro­pri­ate for your goals. Avoid any school that does not have accred­i­ta­tion or is unclear about accred­i­ta­tion, since it may impact your options for your career.

Types of Social Work Undergraduate Degrees

The deci­sion to pur­sue an under­grad­u­ate degree in social work inevitably rais­es con­cerns about the kinds of social work degree pro­grams that may fit your goals. The dif­fer­ent social work fields do not great­ly impact your under­grad­u­ate degree. As a gen­er­al rule, the dif­fer­ent fields of social work relate direct­ly to careers and work opportunities.

Although the dif­fer­ent careers in social work do not always have under­grad­u­ate pro­grams that offer spe­cial­ized edu­ca­tion, it is impor­tant to rec­og­nize the poten­tial for elec­tives or con­cen­tra­tions with­in a bach­e­lor’s degree pro­gram to influ­ence your career oppor­tu­ni­ties. You should also be aware that an online degree in social work offers sim­i­lar oppor­tu­ni­ties to tra­di­tion­al education.

Online degrees in social work may offer spe­cial­ized con­cen­tra­tions in spe­cif­ic areas of social work. The online degrees for social work may also offer elec­tive cours­es to gain spe­cial­ized skills if it does not offer spe­cial­ized con­cen­tra­tions. You will want to be clear about the area of social work that fits your long-term career goals before you deter­mine that a school or pro­gram is appro­pri­ate for your needs.

A social work­ing degree online may also require sim­i­lar intern­ship and men­tor­ship stan­dards as a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram. In most cas­es, degrees in social work online set sim­i­lar goals for stu­dent out­comes, so you should be pre­pared for the hands-on stan­dards set by the school to help with your career objectives.

If you are con­cerned that a social work online degree pro­gram or a tra­di­tion­al degree pro­gram will not allow you to start work­ing, then you can also con­sid­er a social work cer­tifi­cate pro­gram. Cer­tifi­cate pro­grams in social work dif­fer from social work degrees online and tra­di­tion­al on-cam­pus pro­grams by allow­ing stu­dents to gain spe­cial­ized skills at a fast pace. Since social work cer­tifi­cate pro­grams are not an under­grad­u­ate degree, it may allow stu­dents to start work­ing under a social work­er while they com­plete their bach­e­lor’s degree.

Online cer­tifi­cate pro­grams for social work may also offer oppor­tu­ni­ties to spe­cial­ize in a spe­cif­ic field of social work. The way online social work cer­tifi­cate pro­grams work is sim­ple: you take some social work cours­es or spe­cial­ized cours­es and com­plete the pro­gram to gain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. You can either use the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to start work­ing as you com­plete an under­grad­u­ate pro­gram or you can use the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to enhance your skills when you are ready to eval­u­ate our career options.

Social work cer­tifi­cate pro­grams online offer sim­i­lar flex­i­bil­i­ty as the online bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams. The pri­ma­ry dif­fer­ence is the amount of time required to com­plete social work online cer­tifi­cate pro­grams. It will usu­al­ly take less time when com­pared to a degree.

What are the dif­fer­ent fields of social work that may influ­ence your career oppor­tu­ni­ties? It depends on your goals and inter­ests. Com­mu­ni­ty social work­ers or social work­ers in fam­i­ly, child, or school set­tings are well-known areas of the indus­try. Many social work­ers focus on careers that empha­size work­ing with fam­i­lies or com­mu­ni­ties. You also have oppor­tu­ni­ties in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem or in the med­ical industry.

Work­ing with lawyers or law enforce­ment offi­cials may allow social work­ers to iden­ti­fy high-risk sit­u­a­tions or indi­vid­u­als who are not treat­ed with the prop­er care or giv­en appro­pri­ate guid­ance through the sys­tem. If you decide to work in the med­ical indus­try, then you may work direct­ly with doc­tors and nurs­es to help patients who may need finan­cial assis­tance or may have a high risk of prob­lems at home.

Social work in men­tal health indus­tries may fall into a few cat­e­gories. You may work with indi­vid­u­als who have prob­lems with spe­cif­ic men­tal health con­di­tions or who are strug­gling with sub­stance abuse. You may also take a more focused approach and work with mil­i­tary vet­er­ans who are strug­gling to move onto a civil­ian lifestyle or who may need assis­tance due to Post Trau­mat­ic Stress Dis­or­der. A com­mon area of study for many social work­ers is in the men­tal health field or in psy­chi­a­try, so stu­dents can gain spe­cial­ized skills in the industry.

For stu­dents who want to work in gov­ern­ment, online social work degrees and tra­di­tion­al pro­grams may offer oppor­tu­ni­ties in admin­is­tra­tion and pol­i­cy. You may have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to influ­ence the out­come of new poli­cies to improve social out­comes for com­mu­ni­ties or demo­graph­ic groups.

Stu­dents may also gain spe­cial­ized skills in aging care or work­ing with the elder­ly. Work­ing with the elder­ly allows stu­dents to gain unique per­spec­tives on the health­care indus­try, the chal­lenges that may face old­er indi­vid­u­als, and the changes that arise when aging.

The fields of social work influ­ence your edu­ca­tion and your goals. By clar­i­fy­ing the indus­tries and fields that are most appro­pri­ate for your plans, you are able to devel­op the skills that you need to work on your plans. You may need to gain spe­cial­ized cer­ti­fi­ca­tions or take a spe­cif­ic con­cen­tra­tion in your under­grad­u­ate pro­gram to gain the rel­e­vant skills to work in a spe­cif­ic area of social work.

Certifications/Licenses for Social Work

When it comes to social work cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams, you want to clar­i­fy the options that are best for your goals. A social work cer­ti­fi­ca­tion online may offer spe­cial­ized train­ing in spe­cif­ic fields of social work that help you with your long-term plans. Alter­na­tive­ly, social work cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams online may focus on gen­er­al top­ics of study.

If you are look­ing at social work cer­ti­fi­ca­tions online, then make sure you under­stand the details of the pro­gram. Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is not a bach­e­lor’s degree. It enhances your degree or allows you to start work­ing under a licensed social work­er when you are still work­ing on your bach­e­lor’s degree. You should be aware of the lim­i­ta­tions as well as the poten­tial ben­e­fits of the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as it applies to your career before you decide to pur­sue it.

Although cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is option­al for social work­ers, you should be aware that social work licen­sure is required for your career in most sit­u­a­tions. Licen­sure for social work­ers is designed to pro­tect the pub­lic by ensur­ing eth­i­cal prac­tices and high stan­dards of con­duct. You will need a license to be a social work­er in most states and local areas, so you want to clar­i­fy the stan­dards for social work­er cre­den­tials in your local­i­ty to ensure that you meet or exceed the standards.

The social work­er licen­sure require­ments may vary slight­ly by state, so make sure you under­stand the licens­ing require­ments for social work­ers in your state before you move for­ward with your plans. While spe­cif­ic stan­dards for the social work­er license require­ments may vary slight­ly, most states require you to obtain your bach­e­lor’s degree and then take a licen­sure exam for social workers.

The social work­er licen­sure exam tests your knowl­edge from your stud­ies and makes sure that you under­stand the ethics involved in social work. After you pass the exam and fin­ish your degree, you will be able to meet the social work licens­ing require­ments and you can move for­ward with your career objec­tives. At the under­grad­u­ate lev­el, licen­sure does not require stu­dents to obtain hands-on train­ing, so stu­dents can take the exam after fin­ish­ing their degrees.

Careers in Social Work

After you have com­plet­ed your degree and obtained a license, what does a social work­er do? What can I do with a degree in social work? It depends on your inter­ests and your goals. When you ask what can I do with a social work degree, you are not only eval­u­at­ing your options with­in social work. You also want to con­sid­er alter­na­tives that may be available.

What jobs can a social work degree get you? As a rule, an entry-lev­el social work­er will start out in a field of social work that inter­ests them. For exam­ple, you may work in men­tal health or psy­chi­a­try. Alter­na­tive­ly, you may work direct­ly with chil­dren in a school envi­ron­ment or a fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment. Posi­tions in social work vary based on the local area and the need for social work­ers, so you will want to look into the options before you final­ize a career path.

Where does a social work­er work? It depends on their field of social work and their career goals. You may work from an office when work­ing in admin­is­tra­tion posi­tions or work­ing on pol­i­cy. If you are work­ing in the med­ical field, then you may work in a hos­pi­tal or a med­ical facil­i­ty. If you are ask­ing where can I work as a social work­er, then you should be aware that you have a vari­ety of oppor­tu­ni­ties and options.

Employ­ment for social work­ers is not lim­it­ed to work as a social work­er. You may have oppor­tu­ni­ties in human resources, health edu­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­ty out­reach, or cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­i­ty. You can work in the pri­vate or the pub­lic sec­tor, so you will want to eval­u­ate your goals when look­ing into job oppor­tu­ni­ties for social workers.

The list of jobs for social work­ers is vari­able. While oppor­tu­ni­ties are avail­able in social work careers and direct­ly in fields of social work, you may also have oppor­tu­ni­ties in cor­po­rate set­tings. The role of a social work­er in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment is ensur­ing that the com­pa­ny meets high eth­i­cal stan­dards and com­plies with cer­tain legal stan­dards. You may also work in gov­ern­ment on pol­i­cy and research.

If you decide to focus on social work careers, then you can find oppor­tu­ni­ties with­in the med­ical indus­try, vet­er­an ser­vices, fam­i­ly ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices, or men­tal health ser­vices. You can work with all age groups or spe­cial­ize in a spe­cif­ic age group. Social work­ers have oppor­tu­ni­ties in mul­ti­ple indus­tries because they may be work­ing in a vari­ety of posi­tions. You may work direct­ly with fam­i­lies to address con­cerns about abuse, neglect, or even just prob­lems asso­ci­at­ed with pover­ty. You may also work with med­ical facil­i­ties to iden­ti­fy high-risk indi­vid­u­als or sit­u­a­tions where an indi­vid­ual may need assis­tance work­ing through the system.

Social work­ers are able to adapt to many fields and indus­tries. Whether you want to work in the legal field, the med­ical field, or the pri­vate sec­tor, you have options that may help with your goals.

Salary for Social Workers

When it comes to a social work­er’s salary, you should be aware that the actu­al income varies based on your job, your respon­si­bil­i­ties, and your indus­try. The salary of a social work­er is not the same across all fields and indus­tries. It may be high­er when you work in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment when com­pared to a gov­ern­ment posi­tion or a role in a pub­lic position.

While the salaries of social work­ers may dif­fer based on the job, the aver­age salary of a social work­er gives you a good idea of your income poten­tial. The aver­age salary for social work­ers is around $49,000 per year. The salary for a social work­er who is start­ing out in his or her career may be low­er than the aver­age. The pay of a social work­er may also increase over time as you gain expe­ri­ence and devel­op your skills.

How much does a social work­er make? It depends on salaries for social work­ers in the local area and the posi­tion of the indi­vid­ual. The social work annu­al salary varies based on posi­tion and expe­ri­ence. How much do social work­ers make when they work in the pub­lic sec­tor? The Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics states that social work­er start­ing salaries may be as low as $30,700 per year. When it comes to how much do social work­ers make a year, it also depends on their posi­tion. Accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, or BLS, health­care social work­ers may earn as much as $56,000 per year. How much does a social work­er make a year when work­ing in child ser­vices? Accord­ing to BLS, the salary is around $46,000 per year.

If you are look­ing into how much does a social work­er get paid when work­ing in hos­pi­tals, then you can expect a slight­ly high­er salary of around $60,000 per year. How much mon­ey does a social work­er make in the pri­vate sec­tor? It depends on the cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment and the com­pa­ny. The BLS states that the high­est-paid social work­ers make around $81,000 per year. You can expect that the high­est-paid human ser­vices jobs in the pub­lic sec­tor will make less when com­pared to the pri­vate sector.

Salary poten­tial for social work­ers may vary wide­ly based on the indus­try, the posi­tion, your loca­tion, and your work expe­ri­ence. You should expect some vari­a­tion in the poten­tial as you gain expe­ri­ence and start to build your career. If you decide to pur­sue a career in the pub­lic sec­tor, then you can expect slight­ly low­er salary poten­tial when com­pared to cor­po­rate posi­tions. Work­ing with hos­pi­tals and med­ical facil­i­ties may offer a high­er income; how­ev­er, you can find rea­son­able income in most areas of social work.

Professional Organizations in Social Work

If you are plan­ning to work as a social work­er, then you want to eval­u­ate the pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions avail­able for your career. Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions offers crit­i­cal ben­e­fits that help you advance in your career and meet new objec­tives for your future. A com­mon rea­son to join a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion when you com­plete your degree and obtain your license is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to net­work. You are able to meet oth­er social work­ers and get advice about how to han­dle your career goals. You may also have oppor­tu­ni­ties to find out about posi­tions through the orga­ni­za­tion that are not avail­able on oth­er web­sites or through oth­er organizations.

Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions in social work also help you keep up with con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion stan­dards for your license. You will need to keep up with con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion over time. That means you will need to find ways to take cours­es on dif­fer­ent areas of study or spe­cial­ized stud­ies with­in social work. By join­ing an orga­ni­za­tion, you may gain access to con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion mate­ri­als and cours­es that help you keep up with chang­ing trends or details with­in the social work industry.

Anoth­er crit­i­cal aspect of join­ing a pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tion is the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn from more expe­ri­enced social work­ers. You inter­act and net­work with indi­vid­u­als who have dif­fer­ent lev­els of expe­ri­ence. By ask­ing for advice from oth­ers in the orga­ni­za­tion, you are able to learn new ways to han­dle chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions that may arise in your career.

Pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions for social work gen­er­al­ly fall into two pri­ma­ry cat­e­gories: gen­er­al social work orga­ni­za­tions or spe­cial­ized orga­ni­za­tions. The Amer­i­can Clin­i­cal Social Work Asso­ci­a­tion or the Clin­i­cal Social Work Asso­ci­a­tion are exam­ples of gen­er­al orga­ni­za­tions. Social work­ers from dif­fer­ent back­grounds can join the orga­ni­za­tions, net­work, and make use of the resources avail­able through the orga­ni­za­tion. The Asso­ci­a­tion of Oncol­o­gy Social Work, the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for Geri­atric Psy­chi­a­try, or the Amer­i­can Pro­fes­sion­al Soci­ety on the Abuse of Chil­dren are spe­cial­ized orga­ni­za­tions that empha­size spe­cif­ic aspects of social work.

You will want to focus on pro­fes­sion­al orga­ni­za­tions in social work that are ide­al for your cur­rent work and expe­ri­ence. You can also join orga­ni­za­tions if you are plan­ning to work in a spe­cif­ic field and want to gain the oppor­tu­ni­ty to net­work and find out about avail­able posi­tions in your field. The key is clar­i­fy­ing what orga­ni­za­tions are ide­al for your career goals and your field of social work to join the right organizations.

Relat­ed Rankings:

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10 Fastest Online Bach­e­lor’s in Social Work

10 Most Afford­able Bach­e­lor’s in Social Work

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