People who pursue social work as a profession should be dedicated to improving the lives of others. The job of a social worker is to help people handle every day issues that may involve personal, relationship and family dilemmas. Social workers may also assist people who have potentially fatal illnesses or life-threatening domestic problems. As of late 2009, an entry level social worker could expect to earn an annual salary in the low 30's.
Types of Social Workers
There are several areas in which a social worker may specialize. Child, family and school social workers may assist single parents, organize adoptions or help locate foster homes for unwanted or abused children.
Medical and public health social workers offer support and counsel to clients as they cope with serious or terminal illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer or AIDS.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers evaluate and treat individuals with their respective problems by setting up individual and group counseling, outreach and crisis intervention.
Education & Training
At the very least a person must obtain a bachelor's degree to become a social worker, but many positions require a master's degree.
Most social worker jobs require that a candidate have a major in social work, although some entry-level positions will accept majors in related fields such as psychology and sociology.
A master's degree in social work in usually required for jobs in health settings and in clinical work.
College and universities often insist on a doctorate in social work.
There are licensing, certification and registration requirements regarding the practice of social work in every state and in the District of Columbia.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the majority of states require two years or 3,000 hours of clinical experience that is performed under supervision before granting a licenses as a clinical social worker.
According to the Association of Social Work Boards, licensing exams vary depending on whether the social worker has a bachelor's, master's, advanced or clinical degree.
Bright Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says job prospects for social workers are expected to be very good through 2016 especially for those who work with seniors or in rural settings.
As the baby boom generation continues to age, there will be an increasing need for health and social services.
Social Worker Salaries
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average entry level salary for social workers was $32,500 in 2006. After a few years on the job, the pay may increase to more than $47,000.
The Bureau says the lowest 10 percent of social workers were paid less than $24,480, and the top 10 percent earned salaries that exceeded $62,530. These figures were not necessarily entry-level salaries.
Social worker salaries can vary depending on their specialty of service. For example a child welfare worker may earn $32,500, while a solo private practitioner with an advanced degree may have an annual salary of $52,500.
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