what is a social worker?
before you understand how long it takes to become a social worker, it is important to know what people in this line of work actually do. there are two major kinds of social workers. those who work with people to help solve everyday problems are known as direct-service social workers. this can be a simple task as helping around the house, or more complex, such as developing a strategy to help cope with a hectic work schedule. those individuals who help diagnose and treat mental or emotional issues are known as clinical social workers. both of these groups are aimed to help individuals who are underprivileged in their daily routines or face a problem that they may not be equipped to handle.
there are multiple branches within each of these categories, depending on the particular group of people that the social worker chooses to assist. child and family social workers will be different than healthcare workers in terms of training. so how long does it take to become a social worker? why should one take up this profession, and what are the potential payoffs? read our guide to help you understand all of these.
education and training
the most common route taken by students is to obtain a bachelor of social work (bsw) degree from an accredited institution. some direct-service working specializations may also require candidates to complete a master's degree. in the case of clinical social workers though, the master's degree is a concrete requirement which must be fulfilled in all cases. the bachelor's degree is a four-year program which focuses on training you in the skills needed to be an effective social worker. these include, but are not limited to classes in human behavior and social welfare policy, along with topics on the diversity of human populations. all of these topics are aimed at helping candidates become more attuned to the problems facing people in our society, and learn how to connect with people so that a solution can be devised.
those who wish to complete a master's degree will have to spend an additional 2 years of training through a combination of classroom and practical training. some schools allow students to complete their master of social worker (msw) degree within a year if they have already earned their bsw; this is not a universally applicable policy, so it is best to check with the institution before enrolling. it is also necessary to obtain a license from the association of social work boards to be authorized to practice in the us.
what is the payoff?
individuals who enjoy dealing with real-world problems, are compassionate, and have good analytic skills should consider a career as a social worker. this field is challenging in the problems it presents, and thoroughly puts your creativity and resourcefulness to the test. the median wage for this profession is $42,480 which is slightly higher than the national average, and this field is expected to grow by about 25 percent in this decade, making it highly attractive.