Social Work 101

    * Social workers make a wide range of contributions in every community throughout their careers.



    * Some social workers work to resolve systemic issues that plague a community. Some work in education or research, furthering the knowledge-base of social work. Others work as elected officials or work in other capacities in government to create real and lasting change for communities.




    * Most social workers serve individuals and families. Working one-on-one with these groups through private practice, agencies and organizations, they provide resources and support to the lives of individuals and families.




    * People who become professional social workers believe that there are no limits to human potential and use their talents to help others create better lives for themselves and their families.



    * Social work is a profession of hope, grounded in practical problem solving expertise.



    * Social work is a desirable field of study for bright, socially engaged, and committed people of all ages.



    * Professional social workers are those people who have a bachelors, masters or doctorate in social work from a program or school of social work.




    * While child welfare is an important area of social work practice and the one that comes to mind most often when thinking about social work, it is only one of the places where you can find a social worker.




    * Social workers are in schools, courtrooms, drug clinics, hospitals, senior centers, shelters, nursing homes, the military, disaster relief, prisons and corporations.




    * Social workers are society’s safety net, providing vital resources and support when they are most needed.





    General Facts about Social Work:

    A 2006 study of licensed social workers conducted by the NASW Center for Workforce Studies revealed the following about the profession of social work:



    * Social workers have advanced educational preparation and practice experience. A master’s in social work is the predominant social work degree for licensed social workers (79% of active practitioners).


    * Social workers’ most frequent specialty practice areas are mental health (37%), child welfare/family (13%), health (13%) and aging (9%).



    * Social workers spend the majority of their time providing direct client services (96%), followed by consultation (73%) and administration/management (69%).



    * With 12% of respondents planning on leaving the workforce in the next two years and the increasing need for social work services, there will likely not be enough social workers to meet the needs of clients. Social workers have the right education, experience, and dedication to help people help themselves whenever they need it. It takes a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral social work degree - with a minimum number of hours in supervised fieldwork - to become a social worker.



    * More than 600,000 people in the United States hold social work degrees.



    * Social workers help people in all stages of life, from children to the elderly, and in all situations, from adoption to hospice care.



    * Professional social workers are the nation's largest group of mental health service providers. Social workers provide more mental health services than psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses combined.



    * The Department of Veterans Affairs—the largest employer of social workers in the country—employs more than 6,000 social workers to assist veterans and their families with individual and family counseling, client education, end of life planning, substance abuse treatment, crisis intervention, and other services.



    *   Forty percent of mental health professionals working with the Red Cross Disaster Services Human Resources system are social workers.



    * There are hundreds of social workers in national, state, and local elected offices, including two U.S. Senators and seven U.S. Representatives.



    * According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for social workers is expected to grow twice as fast as any other occupation, especially in gerontology, home healthcare, substance abuse, private social service agencies, and school social work.



    Information courtesy of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) 2009