If you are in search of a career option that offers meaning, diversity, and a high level of personal satisfaction, consider becoming a social worker. The primary focus of this profession is to improve the well-being of people in the community by helping to meet their needs, particularly those who are oppressed, vulnerable and in need of social support.
A career in social work is different from any other. Social workers engage with people from all age groups and backgrounds, focusing both on the individual and the environment they live in. They help individuals cope with difficult situations they are faced with and also find ways to change those situations, wherever necessary. This is done through counseling as well as providing people with the resources they need to improve their overall living conditions.
Types of social work
Social workers can be found in every place that serves the community at large, including hospitals, schools, mental health centers, prisons, senior centers as well as both private and public agencies. Their work revolves around the following areas:
- Child welfare: Social workers work with children experiencing abuse or neglect to ensure their safety and protection. They help build the strength of struggling families so that every child has a safe, nurturing environment to live in. Some also specialize in arranging adoptions or finding foster homes.
- Substance abuse: Social workers help individuals addicted to tobacco, alcohol or drugs find ways to reduce their dependence on these substances and return to a healthy lifestyle. They provide individual/family counseling, general awareness, and education, support in terms of housing and work opportunities as well as assist with policymaking.
- Support for senior citizens: By providing the elderly with the support they need to live independently, social workers help to improve their quality of life significantly. The focus is on providing physical, emotional and economic assistance so that the elderly can continue to live in a dignified manner.
- Healthcare: Social workers operating in the healthcare sector help patients understand their illness and adapt to the changes they need to make to their lifestyles as a result. Illness can take a serious toll on a person’s mental and emotional health – social workers provide home healthcare support as well as access to support groups.
Benefits of becoming a social worker
Social work can be challenging and exhausting – both physically and emotionally. However, if you wish to make a positive difference to the world, it can be said that you must work hard for it. Not everyone has the courage to become a social worker but those who do are some of the most satisfied people on the planet.
If you are wondering if you are cut out for this special career path, here are five benefits of becoming a social worker you should consider:
If you choose to become a social worker, you are given training that covers all areas of the profession, from child welfare to substance abuse, providing you a choice of different career paths. Once you go on to complete your master’s in social work (MSW degree), you can choose which area you wish to specialize in, depending on your interests.
Additionally, you will find yourself working with people from different age groups and backgrounds every day. Every case brings with it new challenges and you can never be bored.
- Opportunity to change peoples’ lives for the better
The feeling you get as a result of helping people and knowing that you have changed their life for the better is truly one of the best things in the world. Imagine being the person who changes the life of a drug addict by helping them start over or helping a young child find a great foster home where he/she will be loved and cared for. It is for such reasons that social workers have one of the highest rates of job satisfaction, compared to other careers.
- Increasing demand
With life expectancy all over the world increasing with time and people living a lot longer than they used to, the world is only going to need more healthcare professionals in the future. This means greater demand for clinical social workers who provide care coordination, follow-up services and other forms of support for patients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for social workers are expected to grow by 11% over the next 10 years, which is much faster than other professions.
- You learn to be grateful for what you have
While working as a social worker, you will witness some horrible situations and learn that the world is definitely a very cruel place for some people. Although such cases can haunt you and stay etched in your memory for a long time, you also learn to appreciate the things you have as a result. You will begin to enjoy the simpler things in life and your worries/problems may not seem so big after all.
- You can work for a cause you feel strongly about
At one point in our lives, each one of us has experienced a situation of social injustice that made us feel deeply upset because we couldn’t do anything about it. For example, you may have seen a homeless person struggling to eat even a single proper meal in a day and felt helpless because there was nothing you could do to help them find a way out of it.
By choosing a career in social work, you can work for any such cause you feel passionate about. Knowing that you are playing your part in making the world a better place is sure to give you a sense of self-fulfillment.
These are just some of the benefits of becoming a social worker. If you are still not sure if it is the right path for you, consider volunteering at different social work organizations that are involved in serving the community. If you enjoy it, social work may just be the right career option for you.