There’s a lot of talk these days about personal branding. You may have been wondering yourself about what your brand is in order to move forward in your career, and all you can come up with is that your brand is that you care about people and helping them live their best lives.
What’s wrong with that? Nothing!
With so much emphasis on careers in tech and other hard-charging fields, it might not seem like enough. But the world needs people with a passion for working with human beings rather than concepts.
And one of the best ways to apply that passion is with a career in social work. What’s more, it will probably surprise you to know is that social work is one of the more stable and recession-proof careers there is, with demand on the rise as populations grow, change and age.
According to the US Department of Labor, the availability of jobs in the field of social work will be increasing at a much faster than average rate of 12 percent through the next eight years.
A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many of these jobs, but even greater opportunities are open to social workers with master’s degrees.
Careers in social work can take any number of paths, ranging from one-on-one clinical practices to administrative and advocacy positions in nonprofit organizations or governmental agencies. Increasingly, there are even social workers in the corporate world.
Among the areas expected to have the most need in the coming years are:
This is the area that most people think of when they hear the words social worker. Child welfare involves providing services to abused or neglected children, and to children whose parents can’t afford or are otherwise unable to take proper care of them.
Many social workers in this field are employed in child protective services, where their efforts are focused on investigating and intervening in critical situations, and when required, placing children in safe environments and following through to assure their continued well-being.
Hospitals, clinics, and public health services are anticipated to provide the greatest number of opportunities for social workers as well as offering salaries that are generally among the highest in the field. In one of these settings you will be engaging directly with patients and their families to guide them through what can be very stressful situations.
You may serve as an advocate by assisting them in making difficult decisions, help them communicate with medical staff to coordinate various treatments and after-care, and direct them through the mounds of maze-like paperwork that too often goes along with medical care.
This field is growing rapidly as the boomer generation ages and people live longer and more productive lives into their senior years.
Whether they find themselves alone or have family to support their needs, serving our older population as a social worker may include providing counseling in a private home, in a short-term rehabilitation facility, or in a long-term residential or care setting. Specializing in gerontology can be an especially rewarding career choice.
Traditional public and private schools at all levels, as well as specialized therapeutic boarding schools, include social workers as important components of the professional teams that work with children and parents of children, who are dealing with behavioral or emotional disorders, developmental issues, learning disabilities, and other challenges.
In school settings, social workers may also be responsible for truancy prevention programs, sex education, and crisis interventions. As more or less neutral parties, they also serve as valuable links between faculty, administration, parents, and the children themselves.
It’s a sad fact that demand has grown for social workers who work with children and adults battling substance abuse and addictions. Positions in this arena are available in rehab facilities, prisons, juvenile detention centers, community, and other non-profit organizations, and in private practice.
Social workers are more and more being hired by corporations as part of their human resources departments. In these settings, social workers create programs to manage workplace conflict and provide counseling and support to employees. They may also be called on to coordinate employee volunteer programs and to work with management in directing social philanthropic activities to benefit the community.
The National Association of Social Workers is a good resource for more information about the field and whether it just might be the absolutely right choice for you.