As career paths go, no doubt becoming a social worker ranks amongst the most challenging. So, why do people decide to embark upon an online social work degree and plunge themselves headfirst into a path like this one? Well, the truth is that there are plenty of rewards too. The sense of fulfillment and achievement that you get from working in a job that is making a genuine difference in lives is almost unparalleled throughout the working world. For many people, this alone is worth the inevitable sacrifices that occur when embarking upon a journey that is so full of emotional and career-based challenges. With all this in mind, let us take a more detailed look at some of the main reasons why people become social workers.
Changing People’s Lives
There is no doubt that social workers can change lives, and as rewarding career paths go, you cannot get much better than this. After completing an online social work degree or similar course, you will very quickly find yourself working with individuals and families who require varying levels of support in their lives. More often than not, you find yourself working with the same people for a long timeframe, which gives you a unique opportunity to see them develop with your support and assistance. You may meet them at the very start of their journey for help, or you are taking over from another colleague, so you will need to build up a rapport for a relationship that can last as long as your career.
The reasons why people may need the help of social workers are various, ranging from substance abuse problems and poverty to childcare issues and abusive relationships. So, how you can help to change their lives is just as broad. The relationships you build up with your clients can prove to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Sometimes, it is the little differences that you make that can prove to be highly rewarding too.
Changing the World
How social workers can help do not just have to be limited to an individual level. In fact, the ripples in the pond can expand farther than this, adding up to real systemic changes. When many people are growing up, they envisage how they can change the world, based on the world that they see around them. Starting off by embarking on an online social work degree can be the first step in achieving this goal. To begin with, you will find yourself working alongside people who have been marginalized in society in various ways, providing a voice that the rest of the world can hear.
Some of the wider issues that you are likely to find yourself confronted within social work include disability, poverty, child abuse, and mental health issues. The longer you work in the field, the more insight you will get into these problems, which is a privilege that cannot be attributed to just any career path. When you gain this kind of knowledge, you can apply it in various different areas – whether this is making recommendations to judges or advocating lawmakers. You may even decide that you want to transition to another career path like politics, and you will certainly find that the insights that you have developed from your time in social work will prove to be invaluable.
A New Vision of Society
Following on from the point that has just been discussed, social work is the kind of career path that can give you a new vision of society. While you may go into it thinking that you understand some of the wider issues that impact the world you live in, you are certain to come up with a new perspective after you have worked in the job for a while. This can help you develop a greater sense of empathy than is currently found in many areas of society, which can also help you influence others.
The new vision that you develop is also one that is likely to be less self-involved too. When you are working in social work, you tend to focus on others’ needs ahead of the needs of yourself, which can be highly refreshing and lead you to more altruistic thinking. You may even find that this leads to volunteering and other similar activities. When you do not think about yourself so closely, it can feel like a great sense of relief and happiness.
Plenty of Job Opportunities
While it may not be the central driving force that attracts you to a social work career, it is nice to know that the career opportunities are varied. Once you have that initial qualification from an online social work degree and some experience, you should find that you are very employable worldwide. As you progress through your career, you may decide that you want to specialize and center on a particular area of social work, and there is no doubt that the opportunities are there to do this.
As time moves on, society’s various challenges become clearer and more focus will be put on how they can be addressed. This is likely to mean that the opportunities for social workers continue to grow in the coming years. While some of the issues addressed by social work are likely to remain the same, others will change. Ultimately, if you want it, a job for life is available by embarking on a career in social work.
Develop a Wide Range of Skills
Social work is not the kind of career path you will find yourself doing the same thing day in, day out. In fact, you are likely to find yourself developing a wide range of skills such as communication, problem-solving, leadership, organization, and teamwork – to name a few. You start with an online social work degree and go on from there. So, suppose you wanted to transition to a career as a teacher, facilitator, policy analyst, or diversity trainer. In that case, you will likely show potential employers that you have developed the necessary skills to excel. The more skills you gain, the more doors you will find open to you in different career paths.
Developing such a wide range of skills can also prove to be beneficial to your personal life, and you can apply what you have learned to your own relationships and family. Of course, you do not want to bring your work home with you, but you may find that the knowledge and skills you develop become like second nature over time.
A Path of Self-Improvement
Not all careers lead to improvements in your personal life, but social work can prove to be an exception to this rule. We have already discussed the altruism that you can develop, but there are other self-improving qualities too. In the obstacles that you face along the way, you may well find that you have to overcome challenges within yourself. While self-improvement may not be the number one reason you should enter a social work career, it can prove to be a highly beneficial secondary benefit.
The other main way in which social work leads to self-improvement is that it encourages lifelong learning and development. First, you have the initial online social work degree, but social work is not the kind of career in which you simply stop learning once you have finished your initial training. There are new challenges that spring up all the time. For example, social media has brought up all sorts of difficulties in how your clients communicate with one another. If you have been in the career for a long time, you still have the impetus to learn new skills to give your clients the highest service level.
Every Day is Different
Unlike your traditional 9 to 5 office jobs, social work presents new challenges daily. From the initial online social work degree, you will see that no two days are the same, so if you like a job with plenty of variety, social work certainly ticks all the boxes. You may have an idea of how you think the day ahead of you will go, but more often than not, it will prove to take an unexpected direction. Of course, this is not always a positive trait in a job, so you need to have a good level of flexibility and the ability to roll with the punches, but you also know that you will not get bored very often.
You never know when you are going to get a call that leads you to an unexpected situation. After all, engaging closely with the community cannot be done from behind your own desk. The times that you find yourself actually at your desk for a while may even provide you with some valuable relaxation time!
Stretches You as a Person
Another major advantage of social work is that it puts you in situations that are bound to be personally and professionally stretching. Whether you intend to or not, you are sure to change as a person due to the regular highs and lows that you experience. You will find that you develop a great sense of attachment to the people that you have been assigned to help, and the successes and failures that they experience along the way are likely to feel as if they are your own. One of the most important aspects of the job is learning to manage your emotions and approach each new task with a sense of objectivity. Of course, there are bound to be people with whom you experience a greater personal connection, but the most important thing is that you do not let these personal prejudices interfere with how well you perform in your job role.
Stand Up for Personal Justice
Another wider benefit to taking an online social work degree is the opportunity to stand up for people who do not have the loudest voice in society. It can feel particularly empowering to speak out to help marginalized and help them gain a voice of their own. While many people tend to observe inequality without being able to do anything about it, social work puts you at the forefront of societal change. You can choose an area that means something particularly important to you and specialize in it.
As you develop further in a career in social work, you may even find yourself at the forefront of policy change, shaping how people will be treated in the future. Your first-hand experience will prove invaluable – especially as many people in politics look to experts in different areas to understand and shape future policies. Your knowledge and insight could prove to be invaluable somewhere down the line.
There are plenty of different reasons why you would decide to become a social worker. Right at the top of the list is the chance to change people’s lives, but even greater than this, you can even make your contribution towards changing the world through encouraging positive improvements. Then, there are elements of personal growth that come through becoming a social worker. First, it helps to give you a new perspective on society as you encounter so many people from different backgrounds. You are also encouraged to think about the world in a more altruistic manner, and one that is less self-involved. You also develop a wide range of skills should you ever want to transition to a different career path. On top of all this, there are plenty of job opportunities available, as well as the opportunity to grow and develop in your current path.
So, have you been convinced to try a career in social work yourself? You will certainly need an online social work degree or similar qualification to advance on this career path. Once you have the necessary skills, there will be a training period before working unsupervised. As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of benefits to entering this challenging, yet ultimately rewarding career path.