A four-year bachelor's program in social work is generally the minimum entry-level requirement for social work positions. These programs place a strong emphasis on values and ethics, equipping students with the skills to effectively assess and intervene with clients. Applicants to these programs may be asked to confirm the completion of specific courses, along with having a minimum grade point average in high school. Students will likely need to complete at least 400 hours of field experience to graduate.
Bachelor's Degree in Social Work
Some schools require students to complete introductory social work, interpersonal communications, and psychology coursework before beginning the social work major. Topics covered in an undergraduate social work program include social policies and programs, human behavior theories, social change, professional ethics, addictions, and current social problems. Social work students develop the clinical and administrative skills necessary to assist underserved populations. Additional courses may include:
- Human behavior in the social environment
- Social work research
- Addictive behaviors and social functioning
- Problematic family functioning
- Social welfare policy
- Social work practice
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of social workers is expected to increase at a faster pace than average, growing by 12% between 2014 and 2024. Social workers who work with the elderly or those with mental health or substance abuse problems may have the best job prospects. Social workers' median annual earnings can vary depending on specialty. As a group, social workers earned a median annual salary of $45,900 in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Although not required for entry-level social work employment, graduate studies are very popular among social work students. Many clinical, administrative and supervisory positions require a minimum of a master's degree. Graduate programs better prepare students to work in specific areas of interest. They also equip students with more advanced skills in clinical assessment. Upon completion of a social work bachelor's degree, many students also pursue graduate degrees in related areas such as law, counseling, or public administration.
In order to enter the field of social work, students need first to earn a bachelor's degree. While not necessary for entry-level work, many graduates of these programs choose to pursue a master's degree, which can lead to work as a clinical social worker.