With your master’s degree in social work and state license, you can work as a counselor in private practice or rent yourself out to social service agencies. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat a variety of disorders ranging from depression and substance abuse to anxiety and anorexia. Direct care social workers also are in a position to provide helpful social services to people in different capacities.
Keep it Private
Private practice is the most obvious place for social workers to maintain their independence. The National Association of Social Workers recommends that you work for at least two years under supervision at an agency or other private practice to get your feet wet and learn the ins and outs of running a business. It also gives you a chance to build up a little savings that you’ll need to lease office space and do the marketing you’ll need to do to get clients.
Rent a Therapist
Put yourself on the roles of local school systems, government agencies, treatment centers and social service facilities. They don’t always need a full-time clinical social worker and often contract services out to independents. You should set up your application before they need you, however, because you’ll have to go through a vetting process when they check your license, credentials and work history. Once you’ve undergone an initial interview, get ready for the calls.
Call Me Sometime
PRN, or pro re nata, means that you’re on-call or available as circumstances arise. Temporary companies keep social workers on call for clients and you often can use the PRN position to get your foot in the door at a hospital or long-term care facility where you want to work full time. After being on call for a while, the facility gets to know you and you’ll be first in line when a permanent position opens up if you’ve established decent relationships there and proven to be a valuable asset. At the same time, you may just want to stay in the PRN role and remain temporary, only working those shifts you want to.
Sign Here Please
You can stay free of permanent employment by working as an independent contractor. Unlike on-call positions, a contract gives you a longer time to spend with an agency or private practice. You’ll get paid through the organization but they don’t take out taxes or give you benefits. Instead, you agree to work for a specified period of time, providing specific services. Contract your services out yourself or go through an agency that places independent contractors. Both clinical and direct care social workers can consider independent contracting as an option.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."