Social work is a worthwhile profession, but it’s certainly not for everyone. It’s a demanding field that can be both physically and emotionally draining. But if you want a flexible career in a field with plenty of job opportunities, and you want to make a real difference in the lives of the poorest and most disenfranchised, you should consider entering the field of social work.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field of social work will grow at a rate of 19 percent over the next eight years, making this one of the faster-growing fields. Upcoming demographic changes ensure that social workers will remain in demand over the course of your career.
As a social worker, you’ll get to be a valued member of the community, helping the most vulnerable of your neighbors to access the resources they need to thrive and improve their situations. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, it takes only a couple of more years to earn an MSW, making this one of the easier professions to enter. If you’re a caring person with a strong commitment to helping others, social work will reflect your personal values.
The Nation Needs More Social Workers
Though social work can be a stressful profession, there’s no denying the great need for more talented social workers. Eighty-three percent of social workers are women, so if you’re a man hoping to get into the field, you might find more opportunities — many organizations feel that a male social worker will be able to connect better with men who need assistance.
People from diverse backgrounds are also needed in the profession, thanks to the nation’s changing demographics. By 2050, more than half of Americans are expected to come from what are currently considered minority backgrounds. At least one million immigrants from developing countries are expected to start new lives in the United States over the next 35 years. And in that same amount of time, 88.5 million Americans are expected to reach retirement age. If you earn a Master of Social Work with a specialization in gerontology, you’ll be qualified to work with these older Americans.
Social Work Offers Career Flexibility
Few professional careers offer the level of flexibility you can enjoy as a social worker. There are a myriad of social work fields you can pick and choose from, meaning that if you don’t like or get burned out on one area of social work, you can easily translate your skills and experience to another, completely different, social work field. You’ll always have the option to change your career while still making good use of your MSW. You could work with children, senior citizens, abuse survivors, divorcing couples, or university students. You could even focus on research or grant writing. You could work for the government, for a private corporation, or in private practice. You’ll always have plenty of options to challenge yourself with new tasks and build new skills as you progress in your social work career.
You Can Make a Tangible Difference as a Social Worker
As a social worker, you’ll see many of your clients struggle with difficult challenges. You might work with families living in poverty, young people who are getting mixed up in criminal activity, people who are chronically ill, victims of violence, and people battling addiction. But even though you’ll face some of the worst the world has to offer, you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those you’ll help.
With your help, that family living in poverty will be able to access the government aid they need to feed and clothe their children and keep a roof over their heads. You’ll be able to personally help those young budding criminals turn away from crime and get the help they need to build a prosperous and successful career for themselves. You’ll have the chance to comfort the sick and traumatized, and help those who are struggling with trauma, addiction, and disease to heal. Few people get to advocate for positive change in the way social workers do.
The field of social work offers plenty of opportunities for the right kind of person. If you’re passionate about making a difference and helping the most vulnerable members of your community, maybe that right kind of person could be you.