When you think about the kind of jobs that are in high demand in today’s world, you probably think first about ones in high-tech computing, engineering and science. But what if those fields are not where your talents and interests lie? Maybe you’re better at working with people than with equipment. Is there anything wrong with that? Not in the least!
The world needs people who have a passion for working with human beings rather than concepts or tools. So, if you have that passion and want to apply it in your working life, look toward a career in social work. It may surprise you to know is that social work is one of the more stable and recession-proof careers, with demand ever-increasing as populations in every corner of the world grow, change and age.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the availability of jobs in the field of social work will increase at a much faster than average rate of 16 per cent over the next eight years. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for these jobs, but an advanced degree opens even greater opportunities. Plus, higher education is more convenient than ever because you can earn a master’s in social work online while you’re working at your current job.
Careers in social work can take a variety of different paths. Some of the areas expected to have the most need in the coming years are:
Hospitals, clinics and public health services are expected to provide the greatest number of opportunities for social workers, and they provide salaries that are generally among the highest in the field. Working in one of these facilities, you will be engaging directly with patients and their families to guide them through what are understandably stressful situations. You may serve as an advocate by helping them make hard decisions, assist them in communicating with medical staff to coordinate various treatments and after-care and direct them through the mountains of paperwork that often goes along with medical care.
This speciality is expanding rapidly as the baby boomer generation grows older and people live longer, healthier and more productive lives into their senior years. Whether they find themselves alone or have a supportive network of family, serving elders as a social worker may include providing counselling in a private home, in a short-term rehabilitation facility or in a long-term residential or medical care setting.
In public and private schools at all grade levels, social workers are part of the professional teams that work with children, and parents of children, who are dealing with behavioural or emotional disorders, developmental issues, learning disabilities and other challenges. Working in a school setting, social workers also serve as a valuable communication and mediation links between faculty, administration, parents and the children themselves.
The unfortunate fact is that demand has increased for social workers to serve children and adults compromised by substance abuse and addictions. Positions in this field are available in private and public rehab facilities, prisons, juvenile detention centres and non-profit organizations as well as in private practice.
Child welfare involves providing services to abused or neglected children and to children whose parents can’t afford or are otherwise unable to take proper care of them. The largest number of social workers in this field are involved in child protective services, where they are focused on investigating and intervening in critical situations and when necessary, placing children in safe environments and following through to assure their continued well-being in permanent placements.
It’s becoming more and more common for social workers to be hired by corporations as part of the teams in their human resources departments. In a business setting, social workers create programs to manage workplace conflict and provide counselling and support to employees. They may also be in charge of coordinating employee volunteer programs and often work with management in directing social philanthropic activities to benefit the community.
No matter where you live or where you want to practice the profession, there are good resources for more information about the field and whether it could be the right choice for you.
This article is contributed by Tiffany Rowe, writer of seekvisibility.com.