You may wonder what you could do with a social work degree. Social work degree has grown in popularity among students over a decade. With various universities and colleges providing effective curricula pertaining to social work, most of the students pursue social work as their career. One can do undergraduate training in social work as BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) and continue with the Master’s degree.
What is a Social Work degree?
It is a degree offered by several accredited institutions that helps to shape one’s career as a social worker. Several Institutions in South Africa offer this degree at Bachelors’s and Masters’s levels. The undergraduate degree is called Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) while the graduate degree includes Master of Social Work (MSW). If one wishes to continue with the academic profile, a Doctorate in Social Work and a Ph.D. is always an option. If you are thinking of pursuing social work as your career, it is a way to go.
The perks of acquiring a Social Work degree is that it offers a wholesome curriculum that includes theoretical as well as working in the field. You will need to fulfill credit hours in the practical field varying according to the institutions and work under the supervision of registered social workers. The bachelor’s degree is a four-year program and the master’s degree is a two-year program. This degree enables a student to work in the various fields providing social services helping to transform physical, mental and socio-economic development. The potential and challenges in South Africa hold a promising future to emerge as a social worker.
With a social work degree, one can have a wide variety of social work career options to work with. Various public and private sectors offer tempting job opportunities to graduates of social work. Due to the high demand and shortage of supply of manpower holding a social work degree, it is one of the perks for a social work graduate to seek job opportunities. The overall goal of holding this degree is to acquire social skills and techniques to enhance the quality of services provided in the community. Following are the possible work fields where you can work with social work degree:
• Medical Social Worker
• Mental Health Counseling and Therapy
• School Counseling
• Child and Adolescent Counseling
• Statutory Services
• Corporate and Employee Assistance
• Substance Abuse Rehabilitation
• Geriatric Services
• Nursing homes and Palliative Services
• Natural Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation
• Community Violence and Abuse Prevention Services
• Advocacy and Community Organizations
• Research and Academia
• International Humanitarian Services
• Military Services
• Plans and Policy Framing
What are the prerequisites of working in fields with a Social Work degree?
The manpower of Social Work is non-uniformly distributed in South Africa. While some places have adequate resources and people to work as social workers, most of the places are yet to fulfill the demand. Nevertheless, there are certain prerequisites to be working with a Social Work degree. The South African Council for Social Service Professions(SACSSP) has clearly stated the compulsory need to be registered as a student or employee pursuing their career as a social worker . It is also essential to renew the registration annually to continue with the membership, else failing to do so may end up as a criminal offense.
Holding a degree certificate from an accredited university is the other prerequisite. Before choosing social work as a career goal, there are several rarely mentioned prerequisites listed below you need to seek before heading to the path :
- Highly motivated and driven towards social services.
- Enjoys working in the community and people.
- Able to empathize with the targeted people.
- Possess good leadership qualities.
- Motivated to work in low-resource settings.
- Decisive and rational thinking
- Good academia
- Reflects strong personal and work ethics
The word ‘Social Worker’ reflects a selfless humanitarian service provider. With the advancing times, the communities in South Africa are heading towards development but the hurdles and challenges brought about by these activities are increasing along. Here comes the role of a social worker where they can apply their skills and knowledge to minimize the challenges. As listed above, if you hold a degree in social work, you can work in mentioned fields as counselors, therapists, advisors, etc.
You may be required to perform tasks beyond the expected job demands. A social worker works closely with the public empathizing with them with the goal to uplift through challenging times. They help to promote resilience among the clients by helping them apply principles inherent in social work practices.
There are numerous challenges associated with the social work degree. There is no doubt that it provides the best possible scientific methods and techniques to empower social workers. However, once exposed to the real-life fields, certain challenges may seem to have higher stakes. The pay scale of a Social Worker may vary according to the places, institutions and position level, yet, the average pay scale is R226,299 which is considered low as per work demands .
The concept of social service dates backs to ages. The Social Work degree is designed to give a framework to the same concepts giving addition to academia. With growing competition in the field of education and research, social work degree has established its value being an interesting field to work on. The growing popularity of this degree in the global platform has expanded the work opportunities nationally and internationally. It also helps in personal development, leadership and enhances one’s coping mechanism alongside contributing to this field.
A Social Work degree bears its own perks and challenges. While it can be as rewarding to be involved in noble professions, one should inculcate various qualities in self as prerequisites to work as a social worker. Once you acquire a degree in social work, you have a myriad of options to explore in a career as a social worker, which is equally promising.