Social Work Degree Facts and Statistics
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, social work is one of the fastest-growing careers in the United States. The profession is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022. More than 650,000 people currently hold a social work degree.
Professional social workers are highly trained and experienced professionals who have earned a social work degree at the bachelor’s, master’s or even doctoral levels, and who have completed a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork.
If you are considering a career in social work, there are many different social work degree paths that can get you there.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, more than 600,000 people in the United States have a social work degree.
If you are considering joining these ranks, the first thing you should do is figure out which social work degree path to take and how far you want to go academically.
Examples of academic degrees include an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master of social work degree, and doctoral degree.
Social Work Associate Degree
An associate degree in social work provides the fundamentals for careers in the field, as you will learn about the history and development of social work over the years as well as the code of ethics required.
Courses usually include psychology, human development, anthropology, sociology, and mental health. These courses also explore critical issues in contemporary society, such as poverty, discrimination, obesity, and other poor health conditions.
Having an associate degree in social work can lead to entry-level careers such as a social services assistant or case manager assistant.
Social Work Bachelor Degree
If you want to further your social work education, a bachelor’s degree in social work is the way to go. In addition to foundational knowledge, a bachelor’s degree delves into more specific topics involving certain populations and the social issues the world faces today, such as children and the law, how to navigate the health care or social security systems, or how to combat addiction and mental illness.
You will learn the theory behind social work as well as the actual practices used to interact with and help clients.
A bachelor’s degree also requires that you tackle the liberal arts requirements that usually go along with your specialized courses. A baccalaureate will help you achieve more advanced positions.
Social Work Master Degree (MSW)
Earning a Master of Science in Social Work (MSW) opens opportunities to secure a variety of careers and shows that you have the knowledge and skills to become a prominent member of the field.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, an MSW is the predominant degree of social workers across health care settings and comprise of 82 percent of social workers in this practice area.
In a master’s level program, you will learn more advanced theory and practical guidelines to be able to work in your own practice. Coursework focuses on building strong professional foundations and enhancing existing knowledge and skills needed to handle populations with various vulnerable life conditions.
The field instruction component allows you to work part-time for a social service agency in your chosen concentration, where you will gain valuable hands-on training and direct exposure to daily work.
Social Work Doctoral Degree
A doctoral degree in social work can open other doors for further advancement, especially if you are interested in a career in research, social work education, or higher-level administrative positions.
There are actually two types of doctorates in social work – a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) and a Ph.D. A DSW generally emphasizes the practice of social work, while a Ph.D. tends to be research-focused.
Both degrees offer you the highest educational recognition in the field. You will also acquire an impressive set of skills as a result of your dedication to further exploring the field. The knowledge you acquire with a doctoral degree goes beyond that of master’s degree in both depth and complexity, especially in your chosen concentration.
Examples of the high-level skills doctoral students develop include an extensive knowledge base, leadership skills, advanced research strategies, and methodologies for policy analysis and administration.
Regardless of the degree path you take to become a social worker, you are choosing a career in which you will become an advocate for people who need help most. You will also ensure the rights of underserved classes of people who may have a problem speaking for themselves or finding access to mental health and other critical healthcare services.
Looking to further your Social Work Education?