You went to college to make a difference in the world – to help out your community. You want to study social work! It’s a great major for those with big hearts and even bigger dreams and visions for their lives. But what happens after graduation? What can you actually do with a social work degree? Here are a few careers you should consider as your next step.
First Things First
There are many jobs you can get with just a BSW (Bachelors of Social Work). However, for many jobs where you will be working with a “case” or “patient,” you will need to take it to the next level with a MSW (Masters in Social Work). Don’t let that discourage you if graduate school is not in your plans. There are many amazing social worker jobs available that start you from the bottom and work your way up.
1. School Social Worker
Making your difference may mean heading back to school where you can work with children. A school social worker spends their days talking to students about their lives, monitoring behavior challenges, and coordinating with parents and teachers. They are also there to provide mental health assistance in case of an emergency or community crisis by providing counseling, education, or interventions.
Most states require school social workers to have a Master’s degree. However, they are paid an average of $47,500 per year and typically get the same level of benefits as teachers such as summer vacations, retirement plans, and stable careers.
2. Residential Counselor
Residential counselors are usually found in living centers such as mental health facilities, rehabilitation programs, and nursing homes. They provide mental health care for the most vulnerable patients, and they work with loved ones in understanding necessary care. Residential counselors often develop programming and activities that help in recovery or treatment or they oversee group therapy sessions.
Residential counselors are usually licensed with a Master’s degree and have a specialty such as addiction, geriatrics, or adolescents. Depending on their roles and the facility they work in, the salary is typically in the high $30,000-$50,000.
3. Licensed Clinical Social Worker
If you want to go into business for yourself, consider becoming a LCSW – a licensed clinical social worker. These are professional therapists who help families or individuals work out their problems through regular counseling. Many work in small practices or on their own as a private provider.
However, you do not need to just get your LCSW through a Master’s program. You can also consider receiving your MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy), LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), or LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor). The difference between these certifications are the type and extent of therapy provided, as well as specialty areas.
4. Non-Profit Advisor
A change from providing therapy or counseling is providing expertise to community non-profits. Working with charities or social groups can be equally rewarding and get you in front of a community faster. For example, you may consider working with an international adoption agency or helping with adult education programs for homeless populations.
Non-profit advisors usually make less at $30,000-$40,000 per year, but the position typically does not require a Master’s degree. It’s a great job to get your feet wet and to help you decide if you want to move up in the future.
5. Politician and Government
If you have grander ambitions to change the world on the larger scale, you should also consider going into politics. You may want to be the politician yourself or assist in a government office. This may include working as a community planner, assisting with Child Protective Services, or becoming a victim’s advocate at a community shelter.
Many politicians today need a higher degree, whether in law, MBA, or a graduate social work. However, if you start as a government worker, you can get your name out there and find a specialty or issue you are passionate about.
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