Social workers are in the business of helping. Workers in this field fall into two categories, direct-service, which requires only a bachelor's degree, and clinical, for which you need a master's degree. People employed in this field can work in many different settings, including hospitals, schools or government offices. Earning a median income of $42,480 as of 2010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, these individuals tackle an array of tasks. Social workers' jobs are varied, and range from helping those in need to responding to crisis situations. Therefore, the objectives that a social worker may try to accomplish are far-reaching and varied.
While only a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field is generally required to enter the profession, this isn’t the end of a social worker’s learning. Social workers are commonly required to continue their educations. This may include taking graduate level classes or attending seminars. Continuing education is important, because the rules that govern social work are constantly changing. Most states require that social workers hold a certification that must be updated regularly. To ensure that working social workers keep right on learning, many states require evidence of continued training for license renewal.
Appropriate Client Closeness
Social workers walk a tightrope, getting to know their clients adequately so they can provide appropriate accommodations, but not getting so close that they breach the client-worker barrier. Social workers continually work to develop methods of walking this line adeptly, building a toolkit full of ways of getting to know their clients effectively while developing a procedure for maintaining appropriate distance.
Social workers deal with serious, private and often life-changing issues. Because of the seriousness of the information they are privy to and the potential legal issues in which they may be involved, social workers must maintain accurate and confidential records. They must develop systems that both keep these records safe and make them accessible should the social worker need to reference them quickly. If a social worker fails to accomplish this objective and instead tries to operate in an office cluttered with papers, she won’t be able to provide optimally high quality service to her clients.
Social workers rarely work alone. The nature of their jobs requires that they work closely not only with other social workers but also with service providers. Social workers must develop cooperative working skills. By creating effective relationships with other social workers or those in related industries, these individuals can provide seamless services to their clients and allow them to feel as supported as possible.
Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.