Hi, Rahsaan L. - You have a fine interest in a wonderfully rewarding field of work.
You are interested in being a social worker but are not able to attend college as of yet. This course of study for a degree and certification as a Licensed Certified Social Worker is about six years of college. The degree and certification will absolutely be necessary to obtain employment as a social worker. Also, you will first need to be familiar with what a social worker does.
Today, Social Workers primarily do psychotherapy. Unless you are completely qualified, you will not be able to do this. On rare occasions, some positions do not lean on the psychotherapy duty - such as most social workers I know that work in nursing homes. But all is not lost. There are many entry level or high school diploma level jobs you can apply for in the social service field.
Some of these positions are noted as case manager, life skills specialist or intake clerk. Case Management is intense and requires you to be involved with the client for a long period of time - for years, perhaps. You will be involved in assessing their needs and interacting with the client, their family and their providers. You will assist the client with all of their needs, meeting with them frequently, in the areas of transportation, medication management, counseling, crisis intervention, substance abuse issues, legal issues, housing, employment and whatever comes up in your client's life. You will provide direct services as well as expedite supportive services for the client.
Life Skills Specialists are people that instruct clients on daily living skills. Intake Clerks work at a provider's office and screen potential clients that come in for services. They evaluate the client's needs and handle documentation needed for admission.
Depending on where you live, there are sometimes social service jobs that are entry level which have a strong recreation component to the work you'd be doing. You may see these jobs as Recreation Coordinator or Recreation Assistant , usually in senior centers or city parks departments, etc.
To be a Social Worker takes time and a lot of course work, an internship, a degree, certification and than once you have practiced for a certain period of time, you can become insurance reimbursable. Since you have the interest now, you should definitely explore financial aide, scholarships and pursue your dream. These should be fairly easy to obtain for your undergraduate degree, a BSW. Don't let financial issues stop you because you seem to have a sincere desire and it would be most beneficial for you to start as soon as possible.
Visit your local college and inquire about programs. If the only college near you is a community college, you can always get an associates degree in sociology or psychology and go on for your Bachelors degree in social work at a different college. Doing it that way may be less expensive also. I highly recommend doing the study at a brick and mortar college and not on line. You will gain enormous benefits from on site interaction in class and meet people that have the same interest as you.
Best wishes to you in your future goals !
Michelle recommends the following next steps:
- Do not take this degree on line. It is best to attend a college in person. There will be many benefits for you with support, resources, socially. Social Work is also a very intense course of study and it will be good for you to have many resources right there on a campus.
- Explore financial aide and consider starting at a less expensive school for an Associates Degree and continue at a different college for your BSW.
- Apply for entry level positions in the social service field.
- Research the job description of Social Workers.