Professional development can help most people stay on top of their profession by allowing them to learn about new research or master new creative techniques and strategies. For social workers, who are often on the front lines of helping people manage difficult life circumstances, professional development can offer new insights into how to best help clients.
The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics said that social work is one of the most rapidly expanding vocations in the United States. In 2020, there were more than 715,000 social work positions available. The expansion is partly because social workers are employed in various settings, including hospitals, schools, government agencies, and private practices.
If you are currently employed as a social worker or considering a career in social work, here are five strategies you can use to level up your career path.
Get additional training and explore certifications
The most common problem for social workers who don’t get additional training and explore certifications is that they may feel limited in their ability to help clients. Often, social workers are the front line of defense for people experiencing difficult life circumstances. Additional training and certifications can offer new insights into how to best help clients. Additionally, pursuing further education can make you more marketable and give you an edge over other job seekers.
There are top online care certificate courses that can help you stay on top of new research and trends in social work. These courses can also help you master new creative techniques and strategies. It also gives thorough training written by highly educated health and social care experts. It may be completed at any time, on any device, and in the comfort of your home.
Leverage support networks
One way to level up your career is to leverage support networks. Those who don’t have a support network may feel isolated in their career and unable to progress. Your professional network includes your co-workers, bosses, and other workplace connections. Those classmates in your training program might become future co-workers of yours.
There are also many online and offline networking events that can help you connect with other social workers. You can also join professional organizations, such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), which offer members professional development opportunities, including conferences, webinars, and publications.
You can tap into your network for references, recommendation letters, career guidance, and perhaps even job opportunities throughout your career. Make an effort to connect with as many people as possible.
Develop your transferable skills
In addition to networking and getting additional training, developing your transferable skills is another way to level up your career. Transferable skills are those that can be applied in a variety of settings and with different populations. For social workers, some examples of transferable skills include crisis intervention, conflict resolution, report writing, and public speaking.
If you are new to the field of social work, you can develop your transferable skills by volunteering or working in entry-level positions in a variety of settings. You can also take advantage of opportunities to shadow more experienced social workers or participate in internships. Additionally, many social work programs offer field education placements, which provide an opportunity to develop transferable skills while earning academic credit.
Get involved in professional organizations
Social workers looking to level up their careers can also get involved in professional organizations. Professional organizations offer many benefits, including networking opportunities, continuing education credits, job boards, and advocacy resources. There are many professional organizations for social workers, such as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS).
Start by volunteering to be a leader at organizations you want to join. Taking notes for the meeting, chairing a committee, or running for office are all examples of how you may be a leader. These activities will improve your expertise in leadership and the subject area.
Choose your specialization
Finally, you can level up your social work career by choosing a specialization. Specializing in a specific area of social work can make you more marketable and allow you to work with a particular population or in a specific setting. If a social worker does not specialize in an area of social work, they may find it difficult to find a job and may be limited in their career options.
Some examples of social work specializations include child and family social work, school social work, clinical social work, and geriatric social work. There are also many subspecialties within each area of specialization. For example, those specializing in child and family social work might choose to subspecialize in adoption or foster care.
If you are unsure of what specialization to choose, consider your interests and experiences. You can also talk to your network of social workers to see if anyone specializes in an area that interests you.
Level up your career
Regardless of your strategies to level up your social work career, remember that it takes time and dedication to reach your goals. What is important is that you are constantly learning and growing in your career. This will help you be the best social worker you can be and make a difference in the lives of those you serve.