MSW Jobs & Careers
The two issues every MSW graduate faces are the type of job and the location of the job. Social workers may find themselves in a remarkable variety of settings. There are clinical social workers practicing in schools, hospitals, child welfare agencies, juvenile court and other locations within the criminal justice system, homeless agencies, rape crisis centers and trauma centers, and employee assistance programs. Then there the policy positions within federal agencies, county and municipal service agencies, public health institutions and disaster relief programs.
There is no shortage of venues for qualified and licensed clinical social workers. Here are some of the job descriptions.
- Family Practitioner works as a clinical counselor with children and families providing assistance in a variety of areas. Family practitioners are counselors but may also be problem solvers for families that arrive on the doorstep seeking help finding housing, medical care or safety from an abusive situation. Family practitioners may find specialized counseling opportunities in the juvenile justice system.
- Trauma Specialist can be a worker in an emergency room, but a role that is closer to traditional social work is intervention in abuse situations within a household or some sort of domestic setting. The abused party can be an elderly person, a wife, a child or any family member that is suffering from physical or psychological abuse, neglect or abandonment.
- Child Protection Social Worker may be a county or state employee, or may work for an agency funded by one of the arms of government. Intervention in child abuse cases has a lot to do with outreach; the victims in many of these cases are complicit in keeping the secret. Child protection service agencies work closely with school counselors and often take a very proactive role once a case has been brought to the attention of any government official or employee.
- Employee Assistance Social Worker more often than not is working for a private concern. EAP services are the best thing to happen to personnel departments in a generation. An EAP social worker is the first point of contact for someone who has desperate problems, most often with substance abuse but also with other types of overwhelming problems that are multifaceted, involving family and professional dynamics.
- Substance Abuse Social Worker works in a field where there will never be a shortage of clients. The best test of just how pervasive substance abuse is in our society is to ask yourself if you know anyone who doesn't have a family member or friend struggling with addiction. Many MSW graduates make a career of substance abuse counseling in rehabilitation programs. Understanding addiction and the addictive personality can be a challenge for someone who hasn't been through it or lived with it.
- Social Work Case Manager is essentially a clinical counselor that manages multiple clients on a case basis, from intervention through the development of a treatment plan and intermittent counseling as the client (hopefully) progresses. Clients may be families as well as individuals; case management may involve working with the social dynamics that have created a dysfunctional situation for the client.
- School Social Worker is responsible for working with a child who is exhibiting behavioral problems, excess absenteeism or who may have visible signs of abuse. School social workers also intercept families who are having difficulties that are reflected in a child's behavior or appearance. The role has evolved from a specialized truant officer into something much more complex that involves family and community and often school personnel.
- Hospice Social Worker can face a multitude of challenges in a very difficult environment because the professional responsibilities center on an imminent death. This job requires working with the patient on personal physical and emotional comfort, with the family on such issues as withholding care, on ancillary problems like financial difficulties associated with extended treatment, and finally on grief and bereavement.
- Program Developer is a term for a social organizer or community organizer that can bring focus to group action on social issues. A trained MSW working in this field will engage in an analysis of a group or community situation, the development of a plan to act upon it, and then apply organizational skills to build some momentum. Some social workers fill this role from within existing government or NGO agencies.
- Community Organizer has the image of the outside agitator, the person that turns a quiescent social problem into a noisy and acute social issue. However every MSW program and school of social work includes the concept of social justice in the goals assigned to the role of the social worker. Community organization may simply be providing the leadership to accomplish a task that requires only a little guidance in articulating what is needed.