A career in social work-a very noble profession with values, ethics, social justice and research behind it. Why have you chosen the field of social work? What is the draw besides the obvious connection to people, to make a difference and to provide those individuals in society who have less with the basics and beyond?
No individual goes into the field of social work for the money. No individual goes into the field of social work to be glorified.
Education-BSW or other undergraduate degree with a MSW degree to follow? Which university? Part-time or Full-time? How much can you afford to obtain the necessary degree?
If you are interested in a career in social work, you have to look into what is required to work in the profession in your state, province or country. A very well rounded, all encompassing profession that touches on all areas, communities, cultures, socioeconomic classes in life has a lot to offer. Once a person has graduated with a BSW or MSW, obtained some work experience they often are required to become licensed and/or certified as a social worker for insurance purposes, an employer may require it or one may want to do private practice (U.S.).
In the states the rules and regulations are very different and require exams, education and of course fees to become a licensed (there are different levels) or certified social worker.
Here in Canada only one province requires a BSW or MSW to be registered with the provicial social work order and pass an exam, Nova Scotia. For all the other provinces it is optional to be registered with the provincial order. But as a BSW or MSW if you are not registered with your provincial order, you can not legally write the term social worker, meaning it is about title protection. No exam, except for Quebec (to prove you can speak, read and write in French). Out of the 10 provinces in Canada, only Nova Scotia requires one take a competency exam to become a Registered Social Worker or a Private Practitioner for those that choose private practice.
Areas, niches and segments to choose from or consider:
School Social Work
Rape and Sexual Assault
Sexual Offenders/Sex Addicts
Medical-hospital or health clinic
Youth work with community based organizations, day or summer camps
Case Management/Care Management
Foster Care or Child Adoption
Is further education needed or desired for the particular niche you would like to work with? Have you thought about volunteering as a way to gain experience?
There is much to think about, but I believe you will find the reflective process worth it!
*Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW
SJS Staff Writer in Canada*