There are few nobler career paths than those which focus on helping others. Doctors work tirelessly to take care of the sick, search for cures for disease and raise our overall quality of life. Police officers and firefighters serve to protect us from dangers, and so often deserve that moniker of being among “our finest.” Teachers and professors dedicate themselves to the furtherance and preservation of knowledge, teaching the next generations of leaders and inspiring millions of students to dream bigger and reach further.
One of the most overlooked socially concerned careers, however, is that of a social worker. While it might not leap to mind as immediately as a firefighter or police officer and doesn’t necessarily carry the same public prestige as a doctor or professor, social workers deserve a spot alongside those careers in the hearts and minds of people whom they serve on a daily basis.
Here is a quick guide on what social workers do and how you can join their ranks by acquiring your social worker degree.
In Service to Us All
Social services is an umbrella term which covers a variety of different careers which are dedicated to improving the life, living conditions, and overall general welfare of a particular group of people. That’s a pretty broad definition and, as stated, social services is a broad term for work done in many particular specialized settings or roles. Examples include child protective services, welfare officers, mental health workers, poverty relief specialists, social justice aides, and case managers.
The National Association of Social Workers identifies six core values as being necessary for social worker positions in their Code of Ethics. These are service (defined as helping those in need by addressing their particular social problems), social justice (the process of battling social injustices), respect, giving respect to relationships, having integrity and being trustworthy, and practicing great competence within and commitment towards their own particular social-related field.
Social work gives priority to notions such as empathy, advocacy, and equity theory. In this respect, pursuing a social worker degree is as much about putting these values into practice for the betterment of humanity as anything else. Bringing a commitment to empathy and equity to welfare work, for example, ensures that those who need economic assistance the most can receive not just the help they need to stay afloat, but the dignity they deserve. Social workers in the medical field help patients receive the care they need and battle the stigma against illnesses such as AIDS. Child protective service workers connect with the children they look after, helping them through their various difficulties and caring for them.
Social work is one of the noblest of professions, well worth your time and attention, and certainly worth our recognition and respect.
How to Acquire Your Degree
Social work is an incredibly rewarding career path, and there has been an explosion in the last few years of applicants looking to acquire a social worker degree. Degrees are available at both the BA and MA level. These different levels of education correspond to different jobs within that broad umbrella term of social work. One thing to keep in mind is that a BA in social work is not necessarily required to continue towards pursuing a degree in the field at the MA level, so if your degree is in another field—particularly one that emphasizes contact and communication with others, such as communications or liberal arts—you can still apply to study at the Masters level.
While getting your degree you may want to look into an internship. This can help you get experience in the field, which will be crucial should you choose to follow through and continue with your career. You can also pursue a degree in social work online from recognized universities and colleges, such as the University of Southern California. Whichever avenue you choose to pursue your degree in social work, however, it’s crucial that you receive proper accreditation, so be sure that the school you’re attending is accredited.
All this and more can help you take those first steps on the long and rewarding journey a social worker degree can provide.