If you’re considering a path in childhood development, you might want to look into the paths you could take as a social worker. Most social work jobs require at least a master’s degree, and some even need a doctorate. This is something you should consider as you develop a plan for launching your career.
Becoming a successful professional doesn’t simply happen by chance. And the most successful professionals in social work have much more than simply a coherent plan of action. Aptitude in the area of human services revolves around exercising empathy, compassion, and sound judgment in the face of adversity. You shouldn’t underestimate the value of cultivating those qualities as soon as you can.
Do your research
As for understanding the paths you can take and how they relate to graduate programs, the best strategy is often researching what’s already been published. Authors at Social Work Guide outline the career path to becoming a social worker in five easy steps. Make no mistake, though: each step is a major obstacle to overcome. Take state licensure as a case in point. You’d be surprised how many aspiring social workers overlook and/or underestimate the licensure exam and fail to prepare sufficiently for it. Anyone sufficiently motivated and educated can pass the licensure exams required to begin practicing.
You should take note of the fact that the first resource doesn’t reference a doctorate in social work (DSW) but rather cited only the master’s in social work (MSW), which can periodically be mistakenly considered the terminal degree for the career path. Writers at All Healthcare don’t make that accidental implication and instead add even further clarity to starting a career in social work. They also emphasize the importance of obtaining the necessary amount of supervised work experience as soon as possible.
The prerequisite hours of supervised work experience will vary depending on the state and the type of licensure. You’ll have to decide where you expect to practice social work and investigate the specific state licensure requirements. Until then, however, another sound strategy would be exploring the various licenses available to professional social workers. Editors at Human Services Edu addressed the subject already and explained everything about social work licenses.
Licensure is a major component that can influence your graduate school decision. For instance, a fair proportion of MSW programs don’t necessarily prepare students for either clinical or non-clinical licensure or advanced administrative practice (i.e., designing treatment programs, supervising clinical and non-clinical staff, etc). DSW programs, on the other hand, can sometimes prepare students for licensure (although many are already licensed), but will most certainly cultivate social workers ready for advanced administrative practice. The other major benefit is the ability to command a higher base salary.
These are all important things to keep in mind, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. Continue exploring options, and don’t forget to research what professional social workers suggest.