Your education and experience in social work can open up a variety of new career paths. The basic skills and duties of social work are very transferable and will serve you well in your new job direction, whether it's closely related or in another field entirely. Just remember, your switch will be all the easier if you do volunteer work in your new field and seek out additional training, if necessary.
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
These counselors provide support and treatment to addicts such as alcoholics or those with behavioral problems such as eating disorders, setting their clients on the path to recovery. Depending on the job, these counselors need as little as a high school diploma or they may need a master's degree. They tend to work in private practice, prisons and mental health centers. Though the median annual income was $38,120 in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there's plenty of demand --- the field is expected to grow by 27 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Health educators teach people how to learn behaviors that will put them on the road to wellness. They can find positions in government, private businesses, hospitals, colleges, doctor's offices and nonprofit organizations. A bachelor's degree is typically required, though a Certified Health Education Specialist credential might also be necessary. The median annual wage for a health educator is $45,830, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Best of all, the field is expected to grow by an astounding 37 percent between 2010 and 2020 -- teaching people about health is the popular new method to cut down on overall health care costs. Take advantage of the trend while you can!
School and Career Counselors
Other than netting a very healthy median salary of $53,380, school and career counselors have the satisfaction of helping students excel in school and boost their social skills, or of helping adults with their work life by steering them toward the best educational program or career path. School counselors work in either private or public schools while career counselors can find work in private practice, colleges or government career centers. School counselors have to get credentialed and pick up a master’s degree. Career counselors also will need a master's degree and those who want to enter private practice usually have to be licensed. The field is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Social and Community Service Managers
These managers come out on top with a median pay of $57,950 per year and a field that is expected to grow by 27 percent by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You also may need nothing but a bachelor's degree and your social work experience to get in, though some employers will want a master's degree. Social and community service managers supervise and coordinate community organizations and social service programs. They also manage any staff who provide these services. They usually can find work at government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit social service agencies.
- Social Work Career Development: Exploring Career Paths in Social Work
- US Department of Labor: Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
- US Department of Labor: Social Workers, Similar Occupations
- US Department of Labor: Social and Community Service Managers
- US Department of Labor: Health Educators
- US Department of Labor: School And Career Counselors
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