Being a social worker is tough, but noble and rewarding work because you take care of those who need caring the most. To become a social worker, you need certain degrees and some amount of work experience. If the idea of working with those less fortunate appeals to you, this article will give you the basic information you need to become a social worker, and what it means to be an accredited social worker.
What is Social Work?
The profession of social work seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals and to effect system-wide change through the pursuit of social justice. Just like any helping profession, such as nursing and teaching, social work seeks to help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges. What separates social work from other helping professions is its focus on the person-in-environment model and its emphasis on social justice. Social workers not only consider individuals’ internal struggles, as a counselor might, they also work with people to examine their relationships, family structure, community environment, and the systems and policies that impact them in order to identify ways to help address challenges.
Social work also emphasizes a strengths-based approach in which all individuals have strengths and resources and the social worker’s role is to help build upon a person’s skills and support systems. The profession of social work is varied, serving people young and old, from every walk of life, in a number of settings such as hospitals, schools, neighborhoods and community organizations. It involves work with families, couples, groups, organizations, and communities. Social work is dedicated to the pursuit of social justice through direct service and through advocacy on the local, national, and global levels. These areas of practice are also referred to as the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. You can read more about specific careers in social work as well as the differences and intersections between micro, mezzo, and macro social work on our careers page.
Necessary Steps to Becoming a Social Worker
On the road to becoming a social worker, you will need two degrees, a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees. Some work experience in the form of hands-on works in an institution of your choice is preferred as well.
Bachelor’s degree studies come first. How you attain the degree, be it the traditional way, online or otherwise, doesn’t matter. Any of these will end with a bachelor’s in social work. During these studies, as Study.com reports, you will get acquainted with psychology, human behavior, social policy, etc. During your studies, it’s advisable to find an internship of sorts. Partly, to give you a head start with work experience, but also to help you realize which areas of social work you want to work in later on.
Your next step should be a master’s degree. Admittedly, not all institutions will require one. For example, working in hospitals or schools will require one, but nursing homes and similar environments will not. For and advanced positions, such as management or clinical practice, a master’s is a must.
Difference Between Being Accredited and Unaccredited
Making sure your bachelor’s degree program is accredited is very important for several reasons. First and foremost, your degree is a guarantee of the quality for your knowledge. Keep in mind, all accredited programs teach the same fact-checked information to their students. With unaccredited ones, there is no telling what kind of information was given to the students. In a way, the programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, CSWE for short, are an assurance to the employer that you know what you are doing.
Before they accredit any program, the CSWE carefully examines its curriculum to make sure it matches their high standards. Their accreditation is also an assurance to you that, upon completion, you will be well prepared to take the licensing test after graduation.
Enrolling in an unaccredited bachelor’s program is nothing but pure risk; A risk to your knowledge because you can’t know if their coursework and praxis are up to par; A risk to your future employment because you might have issues getting licensed and lose jobs because of it.
To sum up, if you want to be a social worker, getting a degree from an accredited program is incredibly important for your future employment, but also for your ability to do an excellent job. They are just an online search away! For CSWE accredited programs, you can search through their directory with a social worker option enabled.
 “What does it take to become a social worker?” Study.com.
 “How to become a social worker,” Social Work Guide.
 “Frequently Asked Questions,” Social Work Guide.
 “Why is CSWE Accreditation Importation in Social Work Degree Programs?” Social Work Degree Guide.