A career in social work offers an array of emotional and intellectual benefits, and a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) is your ticket to a long and rewarding professional journey.
If you’re searching for a meaningful, in-demand career that offers variety and the opportunity to make a real difference, social work may be a perfect fit.
There’s no doubt social work is emotionally and intellectually challenging, but for most social workers this only makes the profession more rewarding. Read on to find out more about career opportunities in social work and why you should invest in an MSW.
The Emotional Benefits
Social workers witness poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, physical and mental illness and social inequality as part of day-to-day life and the effects can be mentally draining. For most social workers, the emotional benefits far outweigh the challenges as they enjoy a rare professional privilege of being able to truly change clients’ lives for the better.
“While I was warned that social work would be emotionally challenging, it is not something you can fully comprehend until you experience it for yourself,” writes recent MSW graduate Rebecca Joy Novell in The Guardian. “The heartache and disappointment I experienced on placement still continues in my current practice.”
“Even with the heartache, however, I still believe that social work can truly make a positive difference in people’s lives. The point is to not stop fighting …My advice to students therefore is to be entirely sure that you do want to be a social worker, as it will be a hard fight, but a worthy one.”
For more information about how social workers make a difference, read our article, The Heart of Social Work: Why Social Justice is So Important.
The Intellectual Benefits
Social work is an incredibly varied field. There are opportunities to work one-on-one with clients as well as devise government policies that will affect entire communities – and everything in-between.
Social workers serve individuals, families and entire communities in schools, private practices, hospitals, child welfare agencies, correctional facilities, not-for-profits and large corporate organizations. They work as therapists, educators, policy advisors, carers, clinicians, and counselors.
Whether you prefer working in a clinical or administrative environment or out in the field, there’s a social work discipline sure to challenge and reward you.
According to licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) Adrian D Anderson, an assistant professor at Savannah State University, in an article for The New Social Worker, social work is much more than a ‘poverty profession’ and affords opportunities to work in a variety of senior positions of influence.
“We must continue to reinforce and celebrate the fact that direct practice and licensure pursuit is not necessary for a career trajectory that may entail serving as a university president, an owner of a hospital, a fundraiser, a mayor, a senator or a governor,” he says.
“Social workers have been appointed to key positions in the White House by various presidents over the years. We have consulted presidents on policy initiatives and have served as architects for a variety of business ventures, which could include the establishment of banking or financial centers.”
How an MSW Can Advance Your Career
A Bachelor’s qualification is the basic degree requirement for social workers, but employers are increasingly demanding that social workers hold an MSW, especially for clinical work. In most states, an MSW is required for private practice and positions in health care.
In many states, an MSW is required to gain third-party reimbursement from insurance companies or government agencies. This means you’ll be able to work in many different locations, with a variety of individuals and locations – flexibility that you might not find with other degrees in the human service field.
Pursuing your MSW means you’re choosing a degree that will elevate your professional prospects and set you up for a successful career – not to mention command a higher salary than a social work degree of the undergraduate variety.
To find out more about a Master’s of Social Work degree and the benefits it could bring to your career, visit our Find an MSW Program page and find the right fit for you.