Every year, more than 60,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate social work programs according to statistics compiled by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Another 63,569 are taking master's-level courses.
Additionally, while the CSWE's report doesn't indicate how many students graduate with a doctorate in this field, it does say that this number is anticipated to triple in just a few years' time, with around 300 being awarded their PhDs.
If you're considering becoming a social work student at any one of these levels, you may be wondering why you should pursue a career in this field. With that thought in mind, here are three reasons you might want to consider.
1. You really want to help people who are struggling in their lives.
The National Association of Social Workers shares that those who work in the social work field are not only tasked with helping people increase their quality of life, but they also tend to work with individuals who could be defined as "vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty."
In other words, social workers work with individuals who are struggling to move past their obstacles and live the lives they wholeheartedly deserve. Ultimately, they just need a bit of help in doing it.
So, if you have a deep or burning desire to help these types of individuals as well, working in social work can help fulfill this need. This gives you the opportunity to not only give these individuals and families a better shot in life, but it also progresses society as a whole.
Think about it. Many individuals who have managed to make big names for themselves—such as clothing designer Ralph Lauren and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling—were born into poverty, but succeeded regardless. As a social worker, you may be in a position to help individuals such as these, ultimately giving the rest of us access to their amazing talents and, in some cases, their generosity for fellow humanity.
For instance, did you know that the Ralph Lauren Foundation provides cancer care to those in medically underserved communities? Or that J.K. Rowling's philanthropic actions include donating 16 percent of her total net worth (about $160 million) to charity one year and creating her own charitable organization that helps orphaned children in difficult situations find a loving home?
2. You'd like a wide variety of potential work settings (and clientele).
If you work as a corrections officer, your work setting is a jail or prison. And if you choose a career in accounting, you're likely to spend the majority of your time behind a desk in an office-type of setting. Yet, when you pursue a career in social work, you can work in a variety of different environments.
According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a majority of social workers (18 percent) provide individual and family services. This could mean working for a substance abuse program, domestic violence agency, or other program serving those in need. It may even mean having your own practice.
The BLS further states that another 14 percent of social workers work for state governments, with local governments and ambulatory healthcare services both employing 13 percent of individuals in this field. Hospitals employ roughly 12 percent of all social workers in the U.S.
This gives you your option of the work setting that appeals to you most, as well as the clients you'd get the most out of working with.
3. You want to reduce the risk that you'll graduate and not be able to find work.
In 2018, CBS News ran a story in which it revealed that "more than one in 10 college grads are 'underemployed,' or working in jobs that don't use their skill." Can you imagine working your way through four years of school, graduating with your degree, then being unable to find a job in your field of choice? Talk about maddening!
The good news about social work is that the BLS reports that jobs in this field will grow an anticipated 16 percent by the year 2026. This is a rate that this organization deems as "much faster than average," creating an additional 109,700 jobs in the next few years alone.
Admittedly, graduating in social work doesn't guarantee that you'll find your dream job upon graduation, but when the average growth rate is just 7 percent (less than half that of social work), earning this degree certainly puts you in a better position to do the work you love.
Ready to Pursue Your Social Work Degree?
If these three reasons are enticing enough to make you want to earn your degree in social work, Saint Leo University offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program you'll want to check out.
By taking classes such as Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Welfare Policy, and Social Work Documentation and Technology, you'll gain the knowledge and skills necessary to work in this growing field that enables you to work in a variety of settings while helping those in need.
You can also earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Saint Leo to take your career to the next level. This graduate degree can help you move up within the social work field, opening the door to numerous higher-level and higher-paying opportunities.
What do you say? Are you ready to do all of these things…and more?