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Social workers work with individuals who are trying to cope with issues in their daily lives. They evaluate a client's need, develop an intervention plan and help implement the plan. The two main types of social workers are direct-service social workers, who help people deal with everyday problems, and licensed clinical social workers, who provide diagnosis and treatment for emotional, behavioral or mental issues. The median yearly wage for social workers in 2016 was $46,890, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because of the variety in the type of work and educational requirements, the bottom 10 percent made less than $28,800, while the top 10 percent earned more than $78,510. Social workers can set a variety of long-term goals in this broad career field.
Social work is a multifaceted field with a wide variety of situations. While social work educational programs teach students about the field, a great deal of social worker knowledge comes from hands-on experience. Social workers should strive for continuous learning from working with a variety of clients and other community organizations. A seasoned social worker will have more opportunities to work in different aspects of social work.
Many social work organizations provide ongoing learning opportunities. Social workers should take advantage of available workshops, seminars and conferences to learn the most up-to-date information to help them better perform their jobs. Social workers may also pursue additional formal education to increase the likelihood of career advancement. Some social work positions in health care and schools require a master's degree in social work. Most clinical social workers must have a master's degree as well as a state license.
Entry-level social workers can work toward future promotion opportunities. Social work supervisors and managers lead and direct staff members who provide services. Having experience in the field helps advancing social workers be more effective because they understand the challenges of the job and can draw on their own experiences to help workers be more successful. Advancing to become a director of a program involves securing funding, overseeing policy adherence, networking with other organizations and setting the program's direction.
One of the most rewarding aspects of social work is the feeling you are making a difference in people's lives. Many social workers hope their ongoing efforts will make a lasting impact in their community and create positive outcomes. Many social workers become community activists who champion their cause. Social workers might even work with community leaders and elected officials to effect change through laws and community outreach.