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Earning a Bachelor of Social Work – Forbes Advisor

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Earning a bachelor’s degree is an important step if you want to pursue a career in social work. Enrolling in an accredited program lays the foundation for a master’s degree in social work and career advancement in the field.

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) often qualifies you for entry-level social work roles. This article provides an overview of admission requirements, a general timeline for earning a bachelor’s degree in social work, and possible career options.

Conditions of admission

Admission requirements for Bachelor of Social Work programs vary by university. Typically, a high school diploma or GED equivalent is required. Many schools require prospective students to complete an online application form, submit high school transcripts, meet a minimum GPA requirement, write a personal statement, and include letters of recommendation. Some schools may also require you to submit SAT or ACT scores. It is important to research the admission requirements of your potential schools and programs to ensure you have everything you need to submit a complete application.

Essential Skills for Social Work

Social work can be very rewarding work, here are some of the key skills to consider when pursuing a career in social work:

  • Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Active listening
  • Critical mind
  • Organization
  • Advocacy

Bachelor of Social Work Timeline

Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work typically takes four years of full-time study. During the program, students will also likely complete an internship during a semester or during the summer.

Complete courses and exams

To obtain a BSW, you must take and pass the required courses and examinations. Most social work programs typically include an introductory course providing an overview of the theories and practices of the field and incorporate courses covering a range of social welfare policies, research methods, case management, communications, human behavior and cultural diversity.

Consider an internship

Completing an internship allows you to develop your skills, deepen your knowledge in the field and apply what you have learned in a professional environment. While some degree programs offer internships as part of their curriculum, you can also apply for an internship with a company or organization. An internship can lead to a part-time or full-time job offer in some cases.

Request certification

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the most recognized social work organization in the United States that grants social work credentials. Certification indicates a professional commitment to the social work profession. A certification demonstrates in-depth knowledge, proven work experience, skill and dedication. While most certifications require at least a master’s degree in social work, earning a bachelor’s degree is an essential prerequisite.

Career Options for a Bachelor of Social Work

A Bachelor of Social Work provides the opportunity to pursue many career options related to public welfare, child welfare, mental health, criminal justice, policy and planning, addiction, advocacy and research. Below are some examples of the type of career options when you get a BSW.

Community Outreach Coordinator

A Community Outreach Coordinator oversees and implements outreach strategies and programs to connect individuals with the surrounding community. Coordinators are responsible for cultivating partnerships with relevant individuals, organizations and businesses to build connections within the community. Maintaining an outreach calendar, preparing and overseeing an annual budget, and assisting with the organization of events are just some of the duties that fall under the responsibilities of a community outreach coordinator.

Human services specialist

Human services specialists provide a range of services that aim to improve the quality of life of the people and communities they serve. Their responsibilities encompass a range of tasks, including advising, conducting interviews to determine their clients’ eligibility for various social programs and supports, helping clients apply for support programs, and assisting with clients in daily tasks. Specialists are also responsible for maintaining contact with their clients to ensure services are provided.

addiction counselor

Addiction counselors specialize in helping individuals overcome behavioral addictions and the abuse of alcohol, drugs, and other types of addictions. They often collaborate with mental health specialists and are responsible for assessing their patients to develop the appropriate treatment plan. Counselors can help identify behaviors during treatment plans that may impede rehabilitation. Addiction counselors conduct individual and group therapy sessions.

school counselor

School counselors provide counseling and support to students to help them overcome various personal, parental, behavioral or school challenges. They implement and oversee counseling programs that support the academic and social development of their students. They often work closely with teachers, administrative staff and parents to address the specific concerns of their students. School counselors also help with career planning and equip their students with the tools and skills to succeed after graduation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the highest paying job in social work?

Several factors can impact earning potential, including level of education, specialization, licensing, work experience, and location. Managerial positions are often the highest paying jobs in social work.

What Are the Benefits of a Bachelor of Social Work?

A bachelor’s degree in social work provides an essential foundation for the knowledge and skills needed to pursue one of the many career paths in the field. A Bachelor of Social Work prepares you for entry-level positions after graduation and can also serve as a step toward becoming licensed.

What can you do with a social work degree besides social work?

The field of social work encompasses several areas and specializations. Besides social work, there are a variety of jobs you qualify for with a social work degree, such as counselor, therapist, community outreach worker, social service specialist, and probation officer.


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