General social work degree programs offer a comprehensive overview of the field and the opportunities available within it. For students who are not yet ready to choose an area of specialization or would rather study social work more broadly, choosing a program that focuses on the field as a whole is an option. These programs offer a general study of social work that prepare students to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, social service agencies, schools, youth centers, mental health, or substance abuse clinics.
Distance learning has become more mainstream as technology improves and the need for a more convenient format of education grows. More and more accredited schools now make online delivery of curriculum an options to working professionals or students with family or personal commitments. These schools include Ashford University, Capella University, Purdue University, the University of Southern California, and Walden University.
Job Duties of a Social Worker
The job duties of a social worker vary depending on type of employer and setting. However, many social workers, in a general sense, help people identify and resolve problems—both personal and those related to the social environment. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. Most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work; however, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and two years of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting. Additionally, clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job responsibilities of a social worker include the following:
- Identify people who need help and assess their needs, situations, strengths, and support networks to determine their goals
- Help clients adjust to changes and challenges, such as illness, family problems, or unemployment
- Refer clients to community resources and social service agencies that can provide assistance such as Medicare and foodstamps
- Respond to crisis situations such as child abuse and neglect
- Follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved
- Evaluate services provided to ensure that they are effective
Degree Requirements for Social Workers
Each program will have its own set of requirements, but typically, you can expect to fulfill a number of credit hours in social work. Bachelor degree programs cover a variety of topics and often require students to complete a certain number of fieldwork hours at a local agency or organization. If you choose to earn an MSW, you’ll have the option to specialize in an area of social work, such as crisis counseling, marriage and family therapy, substance abuse counseling, just to name a few.