Child Social Worker: Education and Career Profile
Those who wish to practice social work for children must have at least a bachelor's degree to become employed. Both graduate and undergraduate programs require significant hours of field experience. However, this career field is expected to see employment growth in the coming years. Read on to learn more.
Education Requirements for Child Social Workers
To become a child social worker, formal training and education is necessary. Many students enter the field with a bachelor's degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. While a degree in general social work is acceptable, prospective child social workers may want to look for programs that offer concentrations in children or child welfare.
Many of these undergraduate bachelor's programs require the completion of general education and introductory social work courses in the first two years. The final two years of a program are devoted to upper division social work and to the completion of significant hours of field experience, in which students work under the supervision of experienced social workers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree in social work may also be needed for many positions in health care settings, and it is required for clinical work (www.bls.gov). Graduate programs offer concentrations in child welfare, but they may also offer concentrations in clinical or administrative social work. These programs also require significant field experience for graduation.
A child social worker helps children, as well as their families, improve the quality of their lives by providing services such as counseling. They also seek to assist students with their academic pursuits. Child social workers may work for government agencies or at public or private schools.
According to the BLS, there is expected to be a 25% overall employment increase for social workers and a 20% increase for child, family and school social workers between 2010 and 2020. While social workers may be in demand to work in schools, budget cuts by governments may limit the number of job openings.
The BLS reported that the median annual salary for child, family and school social workers was $41,530 as of May 2012. However, those working for elementary and secondary schools were the highest paid in the field, earning an average annual salary of $59,620 in the same year (www.bls.gov).
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