All About the Bachelors of Social Work BSW
If you are someone who really wants to help others to cope with life’s most difficult challenges, you may want to consider a career in social work. In order to get to work as a social worker, you will usually have to complete a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW), although there are some states that allow you to get to work in the field with an associate’s degree. In most cases, the BSW is a bachelor of science degree, although some universities offer it as a bachelor of arts. The program is designed to ensure you are given the tools and knowledge to help people improve their quality of life. Usually, these people are dealing with difficulties such as mental illness, disability, chemical dependency or a criminal background.
There are a number of programs that offer a specialization, although most BSW programs focus on general social work. However, although this degree is usually enough to get started in the field of social work, many states will require you to hold a master’s degree in social work to allow you to actually call yourself a social worker. The states that do allow you to pass the ASWB exam at bachelor’s level will then allow you to be called a LBSW (Licensed Bachelor Social Worker). However, all social workers are committed to their continuous professional education, so you may still want to continue on to study towards your master’s degree. In order to be allowed to take the ASWB examination, you will also need to complete a number of clinical supervised working hours.
In order to be accepted to a BSW program, you will need to have completed high school or GED. Furthermore, in most cases, schools and universities that offer the BSW will require you to have completed a number of prerequisite courses. These included courses in psychology, sociology, statistics and introduction to social work. Furthermore, some schools will want you to demonstrate your commitment by having work experience (either paid or voluntary) in a social service field. Additionally, schools may want you to submit a personal statement and they may also want references.
During the BSW course, you will be exposed to a range of different subjects that complement the field of social work. Additionally, you will take part in various more specific classes that look at things such as human interaction. The goal is to make sure that you will have the knowledge you need to be a social worker. Some of the classes you are likely to have to take include social work with groups, social work with families and individuals, understanding loss and grief, social work in schools, working with adults and families and child psychology.
Salary and Job Outlook
As a social worker, you can choose from a number of different specializations, and your salary will vary greatly depending on which one you go for. Some of the most common fields are schools, child and family, mental health and public health. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the overall average annual salary for a social worker is $44,200. However, a healthcare social worker can earn as much as $51,460, whereas a mental health and substance abuse specialization will generally only earn you around $43,340. Your geographical location will also have a strong influence on your overall annual earnings.
According to the BLS, there will likely be a 25% increase in job opportunities for social workers between now and 2020 as well. This is much higher than the national average for other sectors, which currently stands at just 14%. Again, however, there are variations between the types of social workers. For instance, the expected growth for healthcare social workers is 34% while that for social workers involved in mental health and substance abuse is 31%.
Continuous Professional Education
All social workers must be committed to their continuous professional education. This is why the majority will go on to earn their MSW (Master of Social Work) degree. Not only will this open more career opportunities for them, it will also increase their salaries. Additionally, more and more states now require social workers to hold an MSW degree in order to be able to practice their profession. This is particularly true in medical and health-related fields of social work. If you want to get involved in research, social services management, private practice or teaching, you will also have to hold a master’s degree, if not a doctorate degree. Social workers can, once they have completed their master’s degree, choose between a doctorate in social work (DWP), which is clinically based, or a Ph.D. in social work, which is more research-focused.
In order for social workers to be allowed to work as such, they must be licensed by the state. Additionally, they will usually have had to work under direct supervision in the field of social work for at least 3,000 hours, or two years. This must have been completed in a clinical setting.