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Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a child, family and school social worker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and requirements to find out if this is the career for you.
Child, family and school social workers assist individuals in confronting social and psychological issues that may arise at home, work or school. They may help individuals who face abuse, need governmental services or need mental health care. This position typically requires a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in social work. However, those interested in research or academic positions normally need a doctoral degree. All levels of these social workers usually also have to obtain state licensure or professional registration.
|Required Education||Bachelor's or master's degree for entry-level; doctoral degree for advanced positions|
|Licensure||State licensure or registration is required|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||15%|
|Median Salary (2013)*||$42,120 annually|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for child, family and school social workers is expected to increase by 15% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The demand is higher for workers arranging adoptions, supplying foster care for children in unstable living situations and assisting children who've been abused. Additionally, growing student enrollment will increase demand for school social workers. However, because state and local job openings and financial availability vary, the rate of employment naturally depends greatly on the opportunities available within each specific location.
As of 2013, state and local government, elementary and secondary schools and family services employed the most workers in this field. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage in May 2013 was $45,680 for state workers, $51,060 for local government employees, $60,480 for elementary and secondary school workers and $39,040 for those employed by individual and family services.
The majority of child, family and school social workers begin with a bachelor's degree in social work, although degrees in sociology, psychology or a related field of study are also common. A Master of Social Work (MSW) is typically required for more advanced positions. Some jobs in public and private sectors, as well as those in administrative or staff positions, will generally require an MSW. College-level professors and those involved in research will need a Doctor of Social Work or a Ph.D. in Social Work.
Most child, family and school social workers are usually licensed or professionally registered. Licensure requirements vary by state, but typically include completion of a degree program and passing an exam offered through the Association of Social Work Boards. Specialty certifications are also available through the National Association of Social Workers.
In addition, they are generally expected to have excellent organizational skills, be independent workers, have great emotional maturity and possess the sensitivity to deal with a large number of people's problems on an individual basis. Social workers must be prepared to encounter a constantly changing schedule of meetings and appointments, potential understaffing, regular travel and emergency situations.