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How do become a social worker ?

Hello I Jhaquan and James and I'm interested in pursuing a career in social work. I am a college student at texas a&m central texas. I earned associates degree in social work and a bachelors degree in psychology. In addition, I have done volunteer work at habitat for humanitys and the boys and girls club. I what to know if that's enough to pursue the career. What job opportunities would a associates degree in social work and bachelor degree in psychology earn me? How can I use these degrees to pursue a career in social? Should i pursue I masters in social work? Are there opportunities to gain more experience in for social? Are their andnjob opportunities as a social work/ human service assistance in belton, killeen, or harker heights that can give me the necessary experience?

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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Jhaquan !

Congratulations on obtaining work with Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club ! You have great education and experience and should be able to continue working in social services. I have left the lists of places that you can randomly apply to. My suggestion would be to go to each agency's website and apply through their Careers or Employment tab. With your particular Degree, which is perfect for social services, you would be able to get jobs in direct services, advocacy or program management depending on the agency. It's a very good field as you've probably have grown to know and there is always a need for social service professionals such as yourself. You should use the employment websites Indeed, Linked In, and I Hire Social Services.

Some positions you can look for would be named Case Manger, Direct Support Professional, Social Service Worker, Client Coordinator, Service Coordinator, Intake Staff, Residence Service Coordinator, Supportive Services Counselor, Care Manager, Life Skills Coach, Community Outreach Manager and many, many more that you will discover by going through employment notices as well as agency websites.

If you want to go for your Masters in Social Work, that would bring you into a new level for clinical therapeutic work. To be a social worker you would need at least a Masters Degree in Social work, get certified and licensed. Read some job descriptions of what social workers do and decide if that's what you'd prefer to do. Right now, you seem to have the drive, education and experience for direct services, advocacy, program management and many other positions. Once you obtain a full time job in social services and the agency gets to know you, there may be many opportunities for you to participate in many activities and also represent the agency at events. So decide if you want to do direct services, advocacy or management or do you want to do psychotherapy with patients which Social Workers do. Give it some time if you are not sure. But always know that Bachelor level social service positions can pay well depending if you're working in a big city or small town and what funding is like at the particular agency. The good part is that if you decide to become a Social Worker, you'd only have two more years of school for it, plus the time it takes you to take the certification and licensure exams. Where I live, people with a Bachelors in Social Work are usually never hired for Social Worker positions, but sometimes they work in social services as direct service staff. Find out what the trend is in your area. The only place that I know that sometimes hires Bachelors level Social Workers are hospitals. It will pay for you to research what is happening with salaries in the towns you want to work in. All areas of the United States require various qualifications for Social Workers.

Your work at Habitat and Boys and Girls Club is commendable and I appreciate the time you've given to it. As I've mentioned before, each agency will have various requirements for education, but also for experience. My advice is yes, send your resume to every social service agency. Cover a lot of ground. That is, if you feel ready. Being prepared and driven may just get you the job. Read what job notices say and if you qualify, apply. Many social service jobs at the Bachelor level do not require a lot (many years) of experience, but of course, it depends on the agency.

I hope that this is helpful and I wish you all the best ! Don't give up, do think about what you want to do in social services and always know that you can return here for advice !

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Jhaquan
Thank you comment icon You are very welcome, Jhaquan ! Michelle M.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Jhaquan,

Becoming a Social Worker

To become a social worker, especially with your background in social work and psychology, there are several steps you can take to pursue this career path effectively.

1. Education and Qualifications:

Associates Degree in Social Work: Having an associate’s degree in social work is a good foundation for entering the field of social work. It provides you with basic knowledge and skills related to social work practices.
Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology: A bachelor’s degree in psychology complements your education by providing insights into human behavior, mental health, and interpersonal relationships. This degree can be beneficial when working with diverse populations and understanding individual needs.

2. Experience:

Volunteer Work: Your volunteer experience at organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club demonstrates your commitment to helping others and gaining practical experience in community service.
Internships: Consider seeking internships or entry-level positions in social work agencies or non-profit organizations to gain hands-on experience in the field.

3. Career Opportunities:

With an associates degree in social work and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, you may qualify for positions such as:
Case Manager
Social Services Assistant
Community Outreach Coordinator
Mental Health Technician
Youth Counselor

4. Pursuing a Master’s in Social Work (MSW):

While not always required, obtaining a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) can significantly enhance your career prospects as a social worker. An MSW provides advanced training, specialized knowledge, and opportunities for licensure.

5. Gaining More Experience:

To gain more experience in the field of social work, consider:
Continuing volunteer work
Participating in workshops or seminars
Networking with professionals in the field
Pursuing certifications or specialized training programs

6. Job Opportunities in Belton, Killeen, or Harker Heights:

In areas like Belton, Killeen, or Harker Heights, there are opportunities for social workers and human service assistants within various settings such as:
Non-profit organizations
Government agencies

By leveraging your educational background, volunteer experience, and pursuing further education if needed, you can build a successful career as a social worker.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

National Association of Social Workers (NASW): The NASW provides valuable information on educational requirements, licensing regulations, career paths, and professional development opportunities for aspiring social workers.

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE): CSWE sets standards for social work education programs and offers resources on accreditation, curriculum guidelines, and career advancement within the field of social work.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The BLS offers data on job outlook, salary information, and industry trends for various occupations within the field of social work.

These sources were consulted to ensure accuracy and reliability in providing guidance on pursuing a career in social work based on factual information from reputable organizations within the industry.

God Bless You,
Thank you comment icon Loved reading this, thanks! Jhaquan
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Chinyere’s Answer

Hello Jhaquan,

Bravo! You have taken the right steps by obtaining an associate's degree in social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology. These degrees provide a solid foundation for pursuing a career in social work. However, to advance in the field and access more job opportunities, it is recommended that you consider pursuing a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW).

An MSW will open up various career paths within social work and provide you with opportunities for advanced roles such as clinical social worker or supervisor positions. It will also enhance your knowledge and skills in areas like policy analysis, community organizing, counseling techniques, research methods, and more.

In terms of gaining experience, your volunteer work at Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club is valuable. You can further enhance your experience by seeking internships or part-time positions at local social service agencies or non-profit organizations that focus on serving vulnerable populations.

Regarding job opportunities as an associate’s degree holder in social work or a bachelor’s degree holder in psychology, there are still possibilities available to you. While these may not offer the same level of responsibility as an MSW-level position, they can still provide valuable experience working with individuals or families who require support services.

To find job opportunities specifically tailored to your location (Belton, Killeen, Harker Heights), it would be beneficial to research local government websites (city/county), non-profit organizations focused on human services/social assistance programs operating nearby, hospitals with psychiatric departments or outpatient clinics offering mental health services. Additionally,

Networking within professional associations such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) or attending career fairs/job expos may help you connect with local employers and find job opportunities.

However, while your associate's degree in social work and bachelor's degree in psychology are valuable, pursuing a master's degree in social work will provide you with more advanced career opportunities and broaden your scope of practice. Additionally, gaining more experience through internships or part-time positions can further strengthen your qualifications as a social worker.

Best wishes.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate you taking the time to answer this. Jhaquan
Thank you comment icon Glad I could help, Jhaquan. Chinyere Okafor
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John’s Answer

Hi Jhaquan,
It looks like you have a little more work to do first.
To be eligible to become a social worker in Texas, you must have graduated from a Council on Social Work Education-accredited program (CSWE) with a bachelor's or master's degree in Social Work and have passed the applicable Association of Social Worker Board (ASWB) licensing exam.
I would recommend that you pursue at least a Bachelor's degree in Social Work which shouldn't be too hard since you already have met the general requirements for a Bachelor's degree. An MSW would be great also, but not required for all the social work jobs. What is required is certification and licensing in any of the following:
Licensed Social Worker (LCSW, LCSW-C, LISW)
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT, LCMFT)
Licensed Counselors (LPC, LMHC, LCPC)
I would recommend talking to a recruiting counselor from Indeed or one of the other major employment agencies about the requirements and opportunities. Right now there are over 90 social work jobs in the Waco area, but they all pretty much require at least a BSW and one of the licenses I've listed.
Good luck and keep going - the community needs your help!
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Jhaquan