5 Things to Consider When Accepting a Social Work Position

If you are looking for a career with a stable outlook, social work is going to be your best bet. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, positions in the field are growing at a faster than usual rate. A full 12% growth is expected by 2024, many of those jobs meant to cater to the aging population.

Here are five things to consider when accepting a social work position.

1. Who You Will Be Working With

This isn’t a statement about your coworkers, which is largely out of your control. It is about your cases, and who you will be working to help. Many social workers go into the field with a specific idea of what demographic they want to aid, but not all positions will cater to it.

Are you wishing to help the elderly? Substance abusers? Domestic abuse victims? Children? At-risk communities? The mentally ill? Your position will determine that.

2. What Hours You Will Be Expected To Maintain

Most social workers take on regular office hours because that is when their office (usually state funded) is open. But when you work in a facility like a hospital, do home visits, or deal with criminal offenders you may have much different hours.

You want to make sure that the hours asked of you are ones you can maintain. So make sure that is one of the first questions you ask.

3. Contract Versus Hire

Many organizations, especially government departments, are now relying on contracted work for their staff. This cuts costs, gives a trial period for the social worker, and eliminates benefits that the office is responsible for.

If you are just looking for experience but not ready to settle in, such as planning a move to another city, this could be a way to go. But if you want a more permanent position, you should look for full hire work, not contract.

4 . The Pay and Benefits

As of 2015, the average median salary of a social worker was $45,900, or $20.07 per hour. Over time that salary can increase, especially when the social worker gain seniority and is promoted to higher positions.

Benefits when an actual hire can be great, with medical, dental, 401k, paid time off, paid holidays, and other perks. Obviously these benefits, as well as annual salary, are incredibly important when choosing a position.

Being aware of what the average social worker receives in your area will be a good first step in deciding if you want to take an offer, or reject it.

5. Your Opportunities For Advancement

You don’t want to spend ten years working for a division only to find out there is little room to advance to the higher ranks of staff. Advancement is important in any career path, especially one where a degree is necessary. Everyone wants to know their job is going somewhere.

Find out what advancement opportunities a job offer provides. See how many in-house promotions are given, versus slots given to outside hires. Ask about the promotion structure, and how often such promotions are considered. Ask the interviewer how long they have been there, and how they got started.

Know What You’re Getting Into!

Ultimately when looking at social work positions, you are scoping out the same red flags as with any position. You want a job where you are happy, fulfilled, and enjoy what you do. You want to go to work every day excited to be there. Otherwise, what is the point?

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs