How to Become a Social Worker
By Eric Hammer
So you want to become a social worker. A social worker is
the most common of the three tiers of people who work with those
who suffer from mental anguish. The other two levels of course
are a psychologist and a psychiatrist. You'll need to be someone
who loves working with people and who wants to help them with
Keep in mind that a social worker, unlike a psychiatrist does
not prescribe drugs and generally works by talking and discussing
a person's problems rather than by actively trying to solve them
through specific techniques such as a psychologist might. The
experience for the patient is most akin to speaking to a good
friend about their problems as opposed to the more formalized
experience of speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Of course, unlike the other two branches of the mental health
profession, you won't need to earn a doctoral degree or a medical
degree in order to work in this profession. Instead, a simple
Master's of Social Work is all that you'll need to have in order
to work in the field.
How Much Can You Make?
According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average salary
in 2008 for a social worker was $43,208 per year.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
While we focused above on the mental health aspect of social
workers, many social workers also work in other aspects of personal
needs. For example, some social workers are involved in arranging
adoptions for children and others work in school settings, though
again, in all cases you are working on the mental health side
of the equation. So therefore in the case of a social worker
who is involved in adoptions, you would be helping to evaluate
whether a child is ready for adoption and whether a potential
family is ready to adopt the child.
You may also deal with the mental health aspects of long term
illness. In this case, there is no mental health issue per se,
however the stress of dealing with a prolonged illness can have
a profound effect on people and will be something where you would
be called upon to help people to cope with the problems that
they are experiencing as result.
Qualifications / Requirements
In order to become a social worker, you'll need to earn a
master's of social work degree or MSW. There are no shortcuts
and no other routes available. Your state may also require additional
testing for licensing purposes.
Start by researching schools where you can earn your Masters
of Social Work degree. These programs abound in most cities so
there should not be a problem with finding one, however you may
want to look at the ratings for different schools and find one
that is particularly well known so as to increase your employment
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how
to become a social worker:
Bureau of Labor
Statistics- Use the the search box here to find information
on what it takes to become a social worker and what the wages
About.com: Social Worker Quiz - This is an interactive
quiz to help you decide if you are a good candidate for this