Just like any helping profession, such as nursing and teaching, social work seeks to help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges.
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 work is a broadly defined profession encompassing many different kinds of professionals who all serve people in need.
There are several main types of social work licensure, including licensure for social workers with a bachelor's degree, licensure for social workers with a master's degree and licensure for clinical social workers.
Within these fields, social workers can also apply for additional credentials and certifications through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
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.
Many social workers work directly with individuals, couples, families or small groups.
For the working professional who has already completed an undergraduate degree, earning a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is the best way to work toward changing careers.
Not all states require that social workers have a Master of Social Work, but earning it will offer advantages in the job market.
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.
These social workers help clients cope with problems such as poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, educational problems, disability, trauma and mental illness.
Social workers provide individual, family and group counseling, case management services connecting clients with resources and service providers, and other services to empower clients to meet their own needs.