For those with a desire to get into social work, it’s as much a calling as it is a career. Social workers are driven by the desire to improve communities and the well-being of their individual clients.
The need for such dedicated social workers continues to grow. The federal government projects a 16 percent increase in the number of social workers by 2026, with almost 200,000 people joining the profession.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work is the first step in achieving that goal.
For students interested in entering a degree program, there never has been a more convenient time. Online degree programs allow students to schedule classes around busy professional and personal lives. It also allows students to attend class from anywhere they have an internet connection.
What kind of careers can an online bachelor’s degree in social work prepare you for? There are many options, but here are some of the most popular.
Social workers who work with children focus on protecting their well-being, which means also helping their families. They will look for housing for families, as well as connect them with childcare and food stamp programs. They also determine when to intervene when a child’s life is in danger, such as through neglect or abuse. In such cases, they also work to place children in foster homes or arrange adoptions.
Many social workers also work in schools, helping identify students who have need for social services. They work with students who have had issues with being aggressive, bullying other students or are frequently absent. They also coordinate with school administrators to develop plans to best encourage better student behavior and academic performance.
There are numerous jobs for social workers in healthcare. For example, nursing homes use social workers who specialize in geriatric care to deal with issues that arise with residents. Others work with patients after they receive a medical diagnosis, helping them to adjust to changes in their lifestyle and making the transition from a medical facility back home. The focus is on the emotional and mental health of the patients.
This is one of the most challenging yet rewarding areas of social work. Those who work in this area may have jobs in rehabilitation facilities and prisons. They may work for private practices, non-profit organizations and juvenile detention facilities. The job includes directing patients to the proper programs and support groups to help them overcome addiction. They also provide the support addicts need to avoid falling into the same behavior that led to addiction in the past.
While most social worker jobs in mental health go to clinical social workers with a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree prepares you for a mental health assistant position. A bachelor’s degree program teaches students about mental health issues, diverse populations, human behavior and about government social welfare policies. All of this helps them prepare for an assistant’s position.
All these jobs can offer a rewarding and stable career. In addition to the growing need for social workers, pay in the profession had risen in May 2016 to a mean annual salary of almost $47,000 a year, with the top 10 percent earning more than $78,510, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Clearly, a bachelor’s degree in social work can open the door to rewarding jobs for those who want a career where they can improve the lives of others.