How much does a social worker make? It is a common question among those who are considering a career in the field. Pay rates vary widely for social workers. Some positions, especially those in small nonprofit organizations, offer relatively low pay. Other social work jobs, though, pay very well. Many social workers are employed by state and county public welfare agencies. Social workers also work with individuals and groups in schools, hospitals and community mental health organizations.
What Skills are Needed to Become a Social Worker?
Because social workers’ job duties include visiting clients and helping them though tough situations, empathy is one of the most important skills needed. Good communication skills are necessary for success as a social worker. A social worker needs to be able to speak so clients can understand and listen to clients to determine their needs.
Another important tool that cannot be taught in school is compassion. While feeling sorry for clients is counterproductive in social work, it tends to be easier to develop rapport when clients feel like their social worker truly cares about them. Most social workers are not therapists and are not interested as much in why clients are in their current situation as they are in how they can assist the client as they gain stability in their life.
How Much Education is Required to Become a Social Worker?
Many social work schools offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Graduates with a Bachelor of Social Work degree may have the option to complete a master’s degree in the field in one year. All programs require practical work experience as part of the curriculum, guaranteeing that new social workers have supervised work experience in a social service setting before they graduate.
Entry level social work positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in social work or a closely related field, such as psychology, sociology or criminal justice. A new social work graduate can expect to work in a case management position, working directly with clients on a daily basis. Social workers with four-year degrees are employed by a variety of organizations. State and county public assistance and child welfare agencies hire social workers to assist clients both in the office and in the field.
A Master of Social Work degree gives social workers more career options. With a master’s degree, social workers can be licensed to work independently in clinical practice. Many people with an MSW work in supervisory or administrative positions within social service organizations.
Are there any Licenses or Certifications for Social Workers?
All states have certification or license requirements for social workers. Some states do not require social workers in government agencies to be licensed. Certification requirements and credentials vary by state. Licenses are typically not transferable between states, but licensing exam scores can be used to apply for a license in more than one state.
So How Much Does a Social Worker Make?
According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay range for social workers is $35,000 per year for child and family service workers to $54,000 for school social workers. Factors such as education and experience should be taken into account when asking the question, “How much does a social worker make?”
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