Perhaps you are fresh out of school or college and are weighing up your options of what to do next? Or maybe you are looking for a change of career and have always been attracted to roles which have a direct and positive impact on the lives of both individuals and local communities.
Whatever the reason for and motivations behind your interest in social work, there are, as in other vocational careers, a variety of different personality attributes and skillsets that are appropriate for the role and indeed some which are altogether necessary. These can be something you already have, or something which you may need to work on to become the best social worker you can be.
With that in mind, continue reading to see if you do indeed have what it takes for a career as a social worker.
What Does A Career In Social Work Involve?
As with other vocational careers, a career in social work is a multi-faceted role which presents a new set of diverse challenges every single working day.
Essentially, a social worker is responsible for the improvement of the lives of individuals, families as well as local communities as a whole. They are dedicated to helping and assisting communities, families and individuals to improve the overall quality of their lives and often act as a representative and advocate for voices of people who are marginalized by society or within difficult situations.
In essence, the role of a social worker is to change people’s lives for the better and is, therefore, one of the most rewarding possible choices for a professional and vocational career. To become a professional social worker, it is strongly advisable to acquire a master’s degree from a reputable and established educational facilitator and an online MSW program is the best way to equip you for the road ahead.
Key Attributes & Personality Traits For A Career In Social Work
As social work is predominantly concerned with the assistance and advising of others, it makes sense that the type of person who pursues such a career is an altogether altruistic and compassionate personality type.
The importance of empathy cannot be understated if one is considering a career in social work and, frankly, it is a necessary component of a human being’s personality to become a fully rounded adult. Empathy allows a person to successfully understand other people’s feelings and affords them the ability to help them act and behave accordingly.
Social workers often find themselves in a stressful and sometimes even decidedly traumatic situation which requires them to remain entirely professional and to not let sympathy or sentiment cloud their judgement and affect their level of professionalism.
Resilience is a useful personality trait in most areas of working life and is particularly applicable and important for a career in social work. Often (and within different specialisms of social work), you will be faced with emotionally traumatic and hard-hitting personal and group situations and it is up to you to always remain professionally objective and emotionally resilient.
Another crucial skill that a successful social worker who wants to actively instill change and positive actions in both individuals and larger groups is that of persuasion.
Regardless of the particular specialism you decide to dedicate your professional life to and the types of people you want to help, it will sometimes (and indeed probably often) be required to effectively coax a person to change their behaviors, seek help and assistance and motivate them to change.
An individual who possesses a strong persuasive element within their personality has excellent communication skills, a high level of emotional intelligence, is a respectful and attentive listener and responder, possesses high levels of reasoning and logic and is skilled in the art of negotiation.
Specialisms Within Social Work
There are a multitude of amazing benefits to both one’s professional and personal life in becoming a professional social worker.
Social work directly affords you the ability and opportunity to positively affect and change both individual’s and larger groups’ lives and therefore naturally comes with a host of different roles and responsibilities.
Within the framework of social care and work, there are a number of professional specialisms which, upon the successful acquisition of both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree, you may feel like you want to explore.
Mental Health Social Work
The essence of a mental health social worker’s job role is to empower and positively affect and change the life of an individual within society who is suffering with any mental health illness or issue which affects their emotional health and wellbeing.
Mental health social workers use a range of different professional techniques to enable an individual to manage their lives and increase the levels of personal enjoyment, contentment and overall satisfaction. Such techniques include talking therapy, advocacy, motivation and encouragement and overall assistance and support to ensure the individual gets better and more importantly, stays that way.
Community Social Work
Community social workers are perhaps the most prominent figures who are able to and inevitably do, affect positive changes to larger groups within a particular community framework. As in any other area of the profession, community social workers are often faced with a multitude of professional challenges and proverbial obstacles in their way.
There is a wide plethora of benefits to community social work which include (but are in no way limited to) the overall improvement of individual’s lives by creating trusting relationships and bonds, social capital, reducing poverty and injecting a feeling of belonging and even a sense of identity.
Social Work With Military Members & Veterans
Social work with military veterans and actively serving military members involves supporting, assisting and affecting positive changes not only with the individual, but the family members as well.
A particularly interesting and rewarding aspect of military social work is the assistance of an individual returning to civilian life after their deployment to a specific place or even when the veteran decides to retire. Additionally, the role can also involve the promotion and fight for same-sex rights for military couples.