There are a number of different areas of social work with which you can become involved once you are a social worker with the appropriate qualifications. Becoming a child social worker is one of the more well known and popular career paths for social workers to take. There are a number of facts and considerations to be kept in mind when deciding to pursue this career.
Becoming A Child Social Worker
There are a number of basic steps that you can follow to becoming a child social worker:
It is important that you have the personality and qualities needed to be a successful child social worker. These include:
- A love for working with children
- Good communication skills
- Good listening skills
- An open mind
- A responsible nature
- Emotionally maturity
- An ability to work without supervision
- Other social sciences majors
Note that, although your bachelor’s degree is a good place to start, it is not recommended that you stop there as many employers will require you to have a master’s degree before they will hire you.
Then you will need to complete an internship in an area of social work where you will specifically work with children, adolescents, and teenagers. Generally speaking your internship will have to last about 200 days. This is a requirement for the completion of your social worker training program.
Next you need to become licensed as a child social worker. To do this you will need to apply for licensure through an appropriate body recognized in the United States of America. Once you have received your license you are eligible to begin searching for employment as a child social worker at a variety of different institutions that offer the job. You will also, generally speaking, be required to regularly renew your license in order to continue practicing in this area of social work.
Duties And Responsibilities
A child social worker has the following duties and responsibilities to fulfill on a daily basis:
- Assist struggling single parents
- Arrange adoptions
- Find foster homes for abused and abandoned children
- Visit schools to discuss problems
- Meet with teachers to address how to deal with troubled children
- Maintain case history records
- Prepare reports
- Address legal issues
- Determine clients’ eligibility for financial assistance
- Lead group counseling sessions
- Conduct social research
- Evaluate the homes and characteristics of foster and adoption applicants
Someone hoping to work as a child social worker should possess the following skills:
- Communication: as a child social worker you will need to effectively convey information
- Monitoring: this is an essential aspect of measuring the performance of those who you serve
- Social perceptiveness: this involves seeing reactions to certain changes and understanding why those reactions have occurred
- Service orientation: this is all about actively seeking ways to help people
- Additional skills: active listening skills, speech clarity, oral expression and oral comprehension skills
Social workers should have knowledge about:
- Counseling techniques
- Current social research
- Behavior modification techniques
- Legal procedural rules
- Confidentiality procedures
- Interviewing procedures
- Techniques in grief counseling
- Intervention and conflict resolution
Social workers tend to work fairly standard weeks consisting of about 40 hours of work a week. However there may frequently be cases where you will be called out after hours to attend to an emergency situation that has arisen somewhere. Generally speaking you will work in an office or residential facility, but in some cases you may be required to travel to meet with clients and other professionals. This depends on the nature of the job that you are employed to do.
Reasons To Become A Child Social Worker
There are five compelling reasons why you should consider becoming a child social worker. These reasons are:
- Emotional Rewards
- Stable Career
- Flexible Hours
- Non-Monetary Compensation
- Educational Opportunities
The emotional rewards of the job are the most often cited reasons for becoming a child social worker. The knowledge that you are positively impacting on the life of a child can make a big difference to your personal state of being and is therefore a very good reason to pursue a career in this arena. In addition to this it is a line of work that comes with a fairly stable job outlook because child social workers are always necessary and always demand regardless of the national or international economic climate. People who prefer to have the option of working nontraditional hours will also enjoy this line of work. Often you will be expected to work fairly standard hours, but in some cases there is a certain amount of flexibility possible in this regard, making it one of the more convenient areas of social work to pursue. Although the actual salary that you will be eligible to earn will not be particularly high, you will have the chance to receive many other perks on the job, including things like paid vacations, personal days, low-cost health insurance and retirement plans. This makes up for the lower salary and makes the job a lot more attractive. In addition you will find that a job in social work means that you will either receive reimbursement for any educational courses that you embark on, or these courses will be free or paid for by an external agency. This means that advancing your career is an easy goal to achieve from the starting point f being a child social worker.
Classes And Education
Generally speaking you will be expected to complete about 2 years worth of general classes and courses in social work before you will transition to a specific focus on the child social work sector of the social work industry.
To start off you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work or another field related to the social sciences. To this you will have to attend a:
- Community college
- Vocational school
To find the best bachelor’s degree program for you, investigate the various options on offer in your area and determine which ones best suit your needs. Applying to more than one bachelor’s program will increase your chances of being accepted.
Following that you will be required to earn a master’s degree with a specific focus in child social work. In most cases these master’s degree programs will include classes on the following subjects:
- Human behavior in relation to children
- Practice in relation to children
- Ethics in relation to children
- Psychotherapy in relation to children
Many other aspects of child social work will also be included in your master’s degree course.
It is essential that you complete your necessary internship programs in order to gain the experience that is required to be a licensed child social worker. Universities like University of Pittsburgh’s Child Education for Baccalaureates or the University of Vermont’s Child Welfare Trainee-ships have measures in place to ensure that their students are given ample opportunities to engage in clinical settings and offer a number of options to their students. Universities that have a partnership with a facility that takes social work interns are the better universities to choose as this will negate the need to find an internship yourself.
Employment And Job Outlook
There are many areas in which child social workers can find employment, including:
- Counseling centers
- Government agencies
- Child welfare services for the government
- Office environments (common place to find all social workers)
- Residential facility environments (common place to find all social workers)
In addition to having a stationary position you could also travel locally to visit with clients or attend meetings. IN fact most child social workers are required to do this at least part of the time. Although, generally speaking, you will work a 40 hour week, you may be required to work after hours or on weekends for a variety of reasons, including:
- The need to accommodate client schedules
- The need to attend meetings
- The need to handle emergencies
Employment as a social worker can be extremely taxing. The workload will be very heavy and you will be expected to give of yourself without receiving very much in return. Consequently this profession is usually considered to comprise of a stressful and draining work environment.
The job outlook for this profession is, however, good. Social problems are unlikely to be eradicated and consequently social workers will always have a place in our society. In addition there is a shortage of people willing to take on this extremely important job. A career as a child social worker brings with it a stable job outlook and a guarantee that you will always be able to find employment in the sector. In addition you will also be employable as a general social worker as you will be required to complete training in general courses before you are allowed to specialize as a child social worker. In short having a specialty increases the many job opportunities that you already have.
Salary Of A Child Social Worker
A child social worker has the opportunity to earn between $26,771 and $51,676 a year. If you add in the possibility of a bonus, which could be anything from $0.00 to $2,980, as well as the possibility of commission (as certain child social worker jobs work on a commission basis), which ranges from about $0.00 to $3,750, the total that you stand a chance of earning is about $24,458 – $52,443 a year. A number of factors affect the salary that you earn. One of these factors is the industry that you choose to work in:
- Social Services pays about $24,390 – $54,338 a year
- Social Services – Child Development pays about $24,570 – $52,397 a year
- Education, K-12 Schools pays about $25,164 – $58,864 a year
- Community Mental Health pays about $24,766 – $53,501 a year
- Child Support Agency pays about $24,279 – $54,658 a year
Your gender can also play a role. Female social workers, who make up about 88% of the profession, earn between $30,084 and $40,529 a year, while male social workers, making up the remaining 12%, earn between $31,686 and $45,215 a year.
Your level of education is an additional factor in terms of how much you can earn as a child social worker:
- A Bachelor’s Degree will earn you about $25,549 – $49,765 a year
- A Master of Social Work (MSW), Social Work (SW) will earn you about $31,147 – $61,582 a year
- A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW / BSocW), Social Work (SW) will earn you about $16,970 – $54,738 a year
- A Bachelor of Science (BS / BSc), Psychology will earn you about $23,821 – $47,344 a year
- A Bachelor of Arts (BA), Psychology will earn you about $28,954 – $44,698 a year
Being a child social worker is one of the better career options that you will have in the domain of social work and is therefore one that is well worth your consideration. However it is important to remember that, because this particular line of work is very popular, you may face a lot of competition in terms of finding good jobs as a child social worker. However this is an area of social work where it often feels as though not enough is being done, so many social workers choosing to work with children still consider their roles to be essential.