Why Social Work Might Be the Most Fulfilling Job on the Planet

Social work is the effort to alleviate challenging conditions in clients’ lives, especially those in underserved communities, stuck in welfare or otherwise in need of aid. Like teachers, nurses and plenty of other caring professionals, social workers don’t get paid as much as they deserve — but that doesn’t stop most social workers from finding great satisfaction in their work. Here’s why social work might be the most fulfilling job in the world — and why more young women should plan for careers in social work.

Social Workers Are Placed Directly in Areas of Need

It is possible to have certain caring careers, to be a doctor or nurse, a counselor or teacher, and never come into contact with an at-risk population. Indeed, it is possible to spend an entire career helping others but doing little to improve the plight of those at the bottom.

Conversely, social workers by nature work closely with those in the greatest need. Many social workers specialize in certain fields, such as physical and mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and justice and corrections, and the great majority of cases involve the impoverished and disadvantaged parts of society. All social workers devote their lives to improving circumstances for their clients and community, and this dedication to such positive work can be exceedingly satisfying.

Social Work Is Relatively Easy to Enter

After reading the above benefits, many women are likely wondering how to become a social worker. Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of social work is that, unlike other caring careers, it does not require thousands of dollars or decades of effort to enter. Indeed, many direct social workers find work with merely a bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, psychology or a related field, and clinical social workers — those qualified to provide counseling services as well as other support for clients — need only a two-year social work master’s degree to qualify for advanced positions and pay.

Social work degrees typically entail education in sociology and psychology as well as specialized instruction in social work research methods and practice. Social workers must also learn myriad laws and regulations surrounding their occupation, which protect their clients and themselves from dangerous situations. More advanced social work degrees, at the master and doctoral levels, provide clinical education and experience, so social workers can offer counseling services to their clients.

Most community colleges and universities offer social work programs. Aspiring social workers can also find accredited programs online, which allow them to continue working full-time while they pursue credentials that will provide greater career satisfaction in the long term.

Social Workers Can Always Increase Their Satisfaction

Unlike other careers, which provide limited satisfaction through pay or perks, social work can continue to increase a worker’s satisfaction — if that social worker makes the appropriate effort. Here are a few ways social workers can ensure their satisfaction and increase it as necessary:

Have a vision

Social workers with a vision will be more effective at crafting the most satisfying career for them. Some questions every aspiring social worker should consider include:

* Who is your ideal client?
* What are your work hours?
* What do you wear to work?
* Whom are you working with?
* Where do you work?
* How do you accomplish work tasks?

Social workers should use these questions (and similar ones) to develop their image of an ideal working environment. Then, they can take steps to make that vision a reality.

Write a mission statement

It might sound silly, but mission statements — like visions — can put a laser focus on a social worker’s career goals. A mission statement defines a social worker’s purpose, so whenever a social worker is faced with a decision, they can turn to their mission statement for guidance. It can be tricky to craft an impactful mission statement, so everyone should study the process before jotting just anything down.

Develop relationships

It is imperative that social workers develop relationships with their clients; otherwise, clients will not develop trust and will never advance beyond their current struggles. However, it is also important that social workers develop relationships with their peers in the field. In fact, social workers should consider seeking a social work mentor, who will provide career guidance, emotional support and more. Studies on mentorship have found that mentor-mentee relationships increase career satisfaction significantly.

Work within a niche

There are different types of social work, including:

* Advocacy
* Aging
* Substance abuse
* Child welfare
* School
* Disability
* Healthcare
* Justice and corrections
* Mental health
* Occupational assistance
* Public welfare

Social workers dissatisfied with their current field can pivot into something new with minimal effort to address new types of problems with a new population of clients.

Thanks to Jackie Roberson

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