Happy National Social Work Month!
By, Roxy Simons March 21, 2016
Social work is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs. March is National Social Work Month, which helps bring light to the 600,000 professional social workers in this country who change lives everyday by helping people help themselves. We ask that everyone, not just professional social workers, help promote social work month in whatever way you can. For example, you can start by educating yourself and those around you on the importance of this profession. There are a plethora of social work textbooks and pamphlets available to the public, but you can also learn a lot from all forms of entertainment. For example, a few inspiring movies that feature characters who are social workers include I am Sam, Precious, and even the Disney classic Lilo and Stitch. There are also many novels that center on the profession. I personally recommend The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. You can also learn more about social work from watching a variety of TED talks, including Anna Scheyett’s “Social Workers as Super Heroes.”
If you’re considering becoming a social worker, this is the perfect time to do your research and figure out if this is the path for you. As one of the fastest growing careers in the United States, social workers are able to advance both personally and professionally. They can significantly impact their communities and better society through their understanding of what their often disadvantaged clients truly require for a fulfilled life. After all, the majority of a social worker’s day to day responsibilities consists of directly interacting and helping their clients. Social workers can be found in all stages and areas of life, from childhood to old age. They assist in schools, hospitals, military facilities, police departments, and more.
Even if you aren’t a professional social worker, you can follow their lead by making a difference in your community. Organize a basketball tournament for the young students in your area. Volunteer to read to elementary school kids or help them with their homework. You could also lend your time to a retirement home or a soup kitchen. Raise awareness and encourage your peers to get involved in their communities by posting about National Social Work Month on your social media platforms. Discuss the importance of social work with your friends and family. If you know any social workers personally, ask them questions about their professions, such as the biggest challenges they face on a daily basis or the best part about their job. We encourage you to learn as much as you can about social work, especially now during National Social Work Month, because, as Anna Scheyett says in her TED talk, “Everyone is going to need a social worker at some point.” The more you know now, the easier the process will be when you face a challenge in life that leads you to a social worker.
For more information on social work and for ideas on how to celebrate National Social Work Month, please visit naswnc.org and socialworkmonth.org.
Why you should become a social worker
If you’re perusing this blog, chances are you are thinking about, studying towards, or are already employed as a social worker. Even if you’re 100% sure that this is the career you were made to pursue, we all have our moments of doubt or second-guessing. Below are just a few reasons to help you remember why you decided to become a social worker in the first place. And if you hadn’t previously considered social work as your career path, this list might just convince you otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong, social work is a challenging and draining field with long hours. However, you are able to personally make a difference in people’s lives, a perk not offered by many other careers. Sure, many days will be discouraging and your clients may not see the benefit of your work. But often, you will find you’ve provided someone with the services and opportunities they couldn’t have accessed on their own. You will find that, in a day’s work, you have bettered someone’s life
Smart Career Move
Social work is currently one of the fastest growing careers in the US. The U.S Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts social work will grow 19% between 2012 and 2022. Entering this filed not only guarantees you a long-lasting career, but also one that will allow you to grow and advance, both personally and professionally. The more educated you are in the field, the more success you are likely to obtain.
As a social worker, you will have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people. You can choose to work in schools, medical and public health facilities, mental health facilities, child welfare or family homes, senior citizen centers, prisons, military – the list goes on and on. There is also the option of working for a government agency versus being self employed at a private practice. The various career paths available to social workers make this one of the most diverse jobs on the market.
As with any job, paperwork is a large component of social work. At the same time, this is not a job that will tie you to a desk for 8 hours a day. Day to day, you never know whose life you might improve or what unexpected challenge will require you to think outside the box.
Because social work is such a necessary and growing field, you are guaranteed a full-time income varying between about $42,000 and $70,000 per year, depending on your field and employer.
Social work allows you to make the kind of changes in your community that others might only dream about. With the experience of personally working with inmates, the disabled, or whichever specialty you may choose, you will personally see and understand what your clients need to lead better lives. You will have the opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless and become an advocate for their rights.
Taking the ASWB Exam as an Experienced Social Worker
The social work licensing exams are written for social workers with different levels of experience. For the Bachelors and Masters exams, no experience is assumed. For the Clinical and Advanced Generalist exams, there is an expectation that you have 2 years of experience. This is important to recognize when you are studying and taking the exam because you don’t want to overthink and overanalyze the question coming up with an answer that a much more experienced social worker would give. We often tell students that the test writers are looking for “text book answers.” This can often be challenging for the more-experienced social worker. That being said, if you have been practicing for many years and are just now taking the ASWB exam, you should know that you’re not alone. There are many practicing social workers who are taking the exam later in their career for many different reasons. Some experienced social workers take the exam due to changes in state laws and requirements, a move to a new state, or simply waiting until they feel confident that it is the right time to take the test. Whatever the reason, it is possible to successfully take the ASWB exam as an experienced social worker.
Experience in the field offers lessons that you can’t fully get in the classroom. This can work to your advantage as an experienced social worker taking the ASWB exam. Both the Advanced Generalist and Clinical levels of the exam are designed to test the knowledge of social workers with two years of field experience. Having already worked in the field, you may be more prepared to answer some of the tougher questions as you may be more familiar with the material. The scenarios on the test may remind you of situations that you have actually experienced in the field.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that your experience may also make taking the test a little harder. Although it is beneficial that you may have experienced similar events, you have to remember that an exam scenario is likely never the exact same situation as one that you have experienced. Experienced social workers tend to pull from their experience and that can often lead to assuming or adding information into the question. It can be difficult to step back and read the case vignettes with a clear mind, using only the facts provided to choose an answer. Be sure not to let your experience get in the way of thoroughly reading and answering the questions based on the material.
Being experienced gives you a lot of insight into what it is really like to work in the field, but remember this is still a test. You still have to take the time to study the material and brush up on your test taking skills. You may not have taken a test since you graduated. That is okay; just remember to give yourself a little extra time to prepare. It might be a good idea to take a few practice tests to get you back in the swing of things. Preparation is the key to doing well on the ASWB exam. SocialWorkGuide.com offers a comprehensive study guide with social work content summaries and practice questions along with some test taking tips. Check out www.socialworkguide.com for access to the latest study material for all levels of the ASWB exam.
LOOKING INTO SOCIAL WORK LICENSURE: HOW TO BECOME AN LCSW
If you are considering getting your LCSW license to become a clinical social worker, there are a few additional steps that you’ll need to take beyond getting your Master’s of Social Work (MSW) or PhD degree in Social Work. First of all, it is important to note that each state has its own list of requirements, so it is in your best interest to look into what you will need to do to obtain your license in your state. All states with the exception of California will require that you pass the ASWB licensing exam and obtain a certain number of field hours with documented clinical supervision. California uses its own form of exam. In most states, you will need to complete a certain number of year (e.g., 2 years) of supervised hours. Some states allow you to sit for the exam while you are getting your hours. Others require you to have the hours under your belt beforehand. Again,you should check with your state social work board. Here is a list of state boards: http://www.socialworkguide.com/faq/licensing-boards/
In order to become licensed, you must have a degree in Social Work; other related disciplines will not qualify regardless of how closely related the curriculum is and how many cross-over social work classes that you took. There are options for becoming licensed on levels other than the clinical or advanced generalist level: the Bachelor’s level requires a BSW and the Master’s level requires an MSW degree. These degrees must be from a United States accredited school.
It is important to know which exam you will be taking and gather the appropriate materials that you will need to study for the exam. Because there are different levels of the ASWB exam, it is imperative that you register and prepare for the Clinical Level ASWB exam if your goal is to practice clinical social work, i.e., to do therapy. The questions on this exam are different from those on the other levels of the exam and are geared more toward actual scenarios that you may face in clinical practice. Aside from having a more clinical focus, the questions require higher levels of thinking and analysis. The questions on this exam also require you to use judgement.
There are great study tools and resources available to help you prepare for the ASWB licensing exam at www.SocialWorkGuide.com. Here you will find three different products to meet your needs including a comprehensive study guide (The Complete Guide to Social Work), a workshop style-book that focuses on test taking strategies designed specifically for the ASWB exam (The Strategic Guide to the ASWB Exam), and an interactive online practice exam. They can be purchased as a 3 product combination package and are also sold individually. These tools will give you all of the information that you need to feel comfortable and confident in your ability to be successful on the ASWB licensing exam.
If you have any additional questions about the different levels of exam or what you need to do to become licensed, check out www.SocialWorkGuide.com or contact your state social work board.
Each year, the month of March is dedicated to celebrating and bringing public awareness to the accomplishments of social work as a profession. NASW has announced the theme for 2016 – “Forging Solutions Out of Challenges.” In my mind, this perfectly describes what we strive for and what we achieve as social workers. Social workers address challenges that affect society on every level on a daily basis and work to find solutions to those challenges in a meaningful, positive way.
Below is the link for more information. There are some great ideas on how you can be involved and how you can contribute to this important message.
On behalf of socialworkguide.com, thank you for making a difference. Look for more information on how we plan to contribute to Social Work Month by signing up for our newsletter at www.socialworkguide.com or following us on Facebook or Twitter.
Get Ready Now for the Fall Hiring Season
It’s summertime and you know what that means — time for relaxation and vacations with family and friends. It’s also a great time to start preparing for your social work job search.
According to Forbes.com, hiring typically slows down during the summer months and picks up in the fall, making now the perfect time for you to get prepared. Certainly one key step in your preparations is to get your social work license. To get your license, you have to apply to your state’s social work board and pass the ASWB licensing exam.
Here at the Social Work Guide, we have all the tools you need to help you prepare for all levels of the ASWB exam. Revamp your summer reading list to include one of our helpful study guides, and you will be one step closer to getting the job that you deserve!
The Difference Between Clinical and Non-Clinical
It’s been a busy start to the year. It seems that many social workers have made new year’s resolutions to get their licenses in 2013.
One of the questions that we are repeatedly asked is, “What is the difference between the clinical and non-clinical social work licenses?” We found a great website called Social Work Degree that defines the difference in detail. This website also has a lot of useful information about social work programs and the licensing procedure.
For more information about the social work licensing exam and study preparation materials for the ASWB exam, check out our Social Work Guide FAQs.
Congratulations on taking your first step to becoming a licensed social worker!
We came across a website, www.mswonlineprograms.org, for individuals pursuing social work as a career. This website is a complete resource guide for anyone looking to advance their education in the Social Work field. It provides helpful information about social worker qualifications, salary guides, and the best schools to fit your needs. (more…)