Why Become a Social Worker?

There are relatively few careers that make a significant impact on the lives of others and the wider community, but social work is definitely one of them. Social workers try to improve the lives of people in their community by helping adults and children to get the support they need to thrive and ensuring their rights and wellbeing are protected. Social work is a varied field, but it can involve supporting people through their most challenging periods and traumatic experiences to help them rebuild their lives. It is an incredibly rewarding career that is ideal for people who want to make a difference.

This article outlines some of the most common reasons that people decide to pursue a career in social work.

There are lots of job opportunities in social work

If job security and stability are important to you, social work is a great choice. There will always be a need for social workers in society, and the need for the profession is predicted to grow significantly in the next decade. Whether you want to work primarily with children or older people, particular religious groups or people of an ethnicity, a specific gender, or people with a disability, you will be able to find a path that makes this possible. Of course, there is likely to be greater demand for social workers in some areas than in others, so some degree of flexibility in your choice of demographic is wise. Over time, your skills and priorities may evolve, but because of its evolving nature, social work is a field that will enable you to adjust your course as needed.

Social work offers plenty of variety

A social worker takes on a lot of varied responsibilities and roles in their community. They are employed by the government, but on a day-to-day basis, they have a great deal of autonomy in how they work with their clients. Social workers can work on a local or international basis, and their style of working will vary depending on the situation they encounter. From teaching and providing therapy to training people, liaising with courts and prisons, and influencing government policy, a social worker will do what they need to for the good of their clients. The varied nature of the career means that people arrive at it from a wide range of educational backgrounds and levels of experience, whether they have studied a criminology degree, a sociology degree, or a psychology degree (to name just a few).

Social work encourages and nurtures personal development

Many people who start out in a career in social work have a natural desire to improve the lives of others before thinking of themselves. However, while it might not be their first priority, being a social worker often helps them as well. Social workers naturally develop incredible life skills, including the ability to empower and educate the people around them, how to advocate for the needs of others, and how to persuade others to accept change. The career can bring personal growth and development to the social worker while also encouraging them to confront their own weaknesses. Your views of the world, beliefs, unconscious bias, and preconceptions about others will be challenged on a regular basis.

Social workers make a positive impact in the lives of others

One of the biggest motivators behind a career in social work is often the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of the people around you. Being a social worker is not just about popping in and out of people’s lives when they need some advice or reassuring words. It is about becoming a source of consistent guidance and support that enables people to change their lives for the better. Social workers are there for people when they are facing the most difficult challenges in their lives, mental health issues, and emotional difficulties. People have to be able to trust in their social worker and confide in them in ways they might never be able to with their own family. It can be incredibly rewarding to meet a client when they are struggling with a problem or circumstances, provide them with the help they need, and then see the positive outcome that you have brought about.

Social workers make society and the world a better place

By making a difference in the lives of individuals in their communities, social workers can affect change at almost every level of society. Social workers give their clients, who are often marginalized and vulnerable, a voice. If you believe that change is needed to help your clients, such as a new program, facilities, or even a law change, you have a platform to work from. Social workers see the world in a way that higher-ranking government officials do not, and they have a responsibility to ensure that all parts of society are represented and advocated for. In this way, social workers can literally change the world and make it a much better place to live in.

Is social work the right career for you?

While there are lots of reasons to become a social worker, it is important to weigh the pros against the cons before committing to a path. One of the potential downsides to the career is related to one of its main attractions, i.e., you will be making a difference in the lives of others. This is a rewarding way to spend your career, but it can also be emotionally exhausting.

Social workers often have to become involved in stressful and emotionally charged situations, including familial conflict and working with criminals, and regularly work longer than their standard office hours. Sometimes social workers have to make difficult decisions that they believe to be in their clients’ or society’s best interests, but those decisions might displease the clients and/or their families. Without the right work-life balance and support, social workers can struggle with their own physical and mental health. Click here for more on the pros and cons of becoming a social worker.

However, with the right attitude, stamina, self-discipline, and a natural desire to help others, social workers can build themselves a long and successful career that makes a big difference to their community.

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