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If you would like to be involved in a career that has true meaning, that puts you in the heart of real action, that is diverse and gives you a lot of job satisfaction, then social work may be right for you. Another thing that is great about the profession is that there are a lot of options out there for growth. As a social worker, you need to truly care about other people and work your hardest to make sure their quality of life is improved. You have the opportunity to make a true difference and relieve other people's suffering.

About Social Work

The profession of social work is all about helping people gain the best possible quality of life. This is done in a variety of different ways. First of all, you can provide direct services to clients, offering them therapy or other types of assistance. You can also work within organizations that try to improve overall social conditions, benefiting entire communities.

Social work is very different from other professions that deliver help, however. This is because it works on an "in their environment" philosophy. This means that you help people identify how they feel about a given situation, as well as give them assistance in terms of changing any negatives in their lives. For instance, you may be working with single parents who require some sort of assistance with childcare to relieve stress. In this situation, you may help your client arrange more flexible working hours and help to identify a childcare facility. Additionally, you will be able to offer your client personal therapy so they are better able to cope with stress.

Generally speaking, as a social worker, you will be committed to driving social change. This is where education becomes very important. The requirements on becoming a social worker vary from one state to another, ranging from associate's degree to master's degree. The higher your degree, the more you can become involved in social change. The best degree to achieve this is with a DSW - doctorate of social work.

Education and Training

Within social work, there are specific practice standards, a code of ethics, a body of knowledge, state licensing requirements, credentials and there is a national accrediting body for educational programs, which is the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The combination of these elements gives graduates the skills and knowledge they need in order to truly help others.

No other profession offers as much variety as social work. You can work in private businesses, public agencies, hospitals, private businesses, schools, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, rehabilitation facilities, courts and more. With a DSW, however, you are able to work in social work research, or you can become a social work educator. Doctorate programs in social work are not accredited. However, schools that offer the ASW (associate's), BSW (bachelor's) or MSW (master's) are accredited and one of the elements the CSWE looks at is how many faculty members hold a doctorate degree.

Educational and Licensing Requirements

You can only become a social worker if your degree program (BSW or MSW) is accredited by the CSWE. The BSW is the undergraduate option that allows for limited scope of practice. The MSW is the graduate option, which allows students to gain a greater scope of practice. It also allows them to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or LCSW. The final option is the DSW or Ph.D. in Social Work. Those who have this degree have the greatest body of knowledge. It is with a DSW that you are able to make new discoveries in the field of social work and to educate the social workers of the future.

All programs, at every level, include field experience and classroom studies. The BSW is usually a generalist degree and it is not until the MSW that students will learn more details about specific elements of social work. Within the DSW, you will learn more about a chosen area of social work and you will write a thesis about this specific area.

Do make sure that you contact the American Association of State Social Work Boards to find out what sort of rules there are in terms of licenses and certifications in your state. They will also be able to tell you how often you need to renew your license and how you are able to do so. They are the overall national regulating body, and it is likely that your state Board will have further requirements at each level as well.

Salary Outlook for a DSW Graduate

It is very hard to give a clear picture of the salary for social workers with a DSW degree. According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for a professor in social work is $86,073, with the top 10% earning at least $152,622 per year. To be a professor, you must hold a Ph.D. in social work and become employed in a university. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there will be a significant increase in demand for social workers at all levels. Due to the fact that the workforce is aging, it is likely that the projected increase of 20% will certainly be felt in faculty staff and other positions for those who hold a DSW degree. Again, there are great variations in demand depending on sectors. Additionally, due to budget constraints, it is not known whether these demands will actually be met.

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