A Career as a Social Worker

Career Goal: Child Protection/Child Welfare Social Worker

Maren Auringer

Career Overview

Social workers ensure the safety of low income children and pregnant mothers. They also investigate child abuse calls, along with related incidents, as well as evaluate foster homes and adoptive homes.

A child social worker keeps the interests of the child in mind when working on a case. They work to put children into loving homes, which could sometimes require removing a child from a dangerous home. Often a child social worker has to work with difficult parents and guardians, or the children themselves may be difficult.

Child social workers not only work with children who have unsafe living conditions, but may work with children who have special needs or behavioral disorders. However, the majority of cases do deal with abuse and neglect.

Career Skills and Interests

Some of the most important skills needed to be a child social worker include the ability to listen and understand others, properly communicate, either in speech or in writing, with others, use reasoning and analyze data, manage the time of yourself and the time of others in a beneficial way, and be aware of others and persuade them.

As a social worker, you need to have a desire to help people. You also have to have an interest in investigation, as many, if not all, cases require some form of investigation, whether it is an investigation of a specific person or an investigation of a home or other place.

Social workers usually have a desire to feel a sense of accomplishment, as you would feel accomplished if you helped a child in their case. Finally, a social worker needs to has to like having an individualized day. A social worker has to plan their own days, as they are usually driving around, visiting clients. Of course you have to work a specific amount of hours i a week, but you get a lot of freedom in what you do during that time. This is also where the ability to manage your own time comes in.

Career Working Conditions

As a social worker, you would need to be okay with a high level of social interaction. The majority of their work deals with other people, so they need to be able to communicate well. Also, there is a lot of driving and being indoors. You would not sit at a desk, but you would be either in the car or in someone's home for a majority of your day. Occasionally you may meet a client outdoors, but more often then not the work would be indoors.

Another big thing you would encounter as a social worker would be unsettling noises, sights, or even diseases. You may be in homes that are filthy or with people who are unhygienic. Along with this, you may encounter conflicts with clients or family members of a client, so you would have to know what to do in those types of situations. Another big one is animals, as people may have pets that are not friendly.

Finally, you must be exact with your work and complete it on time. There is a lot of paper work that needs to be completed, and it would have to be done precisely and on time.

Career Wages and Outlook

The average salary for a social worker in Minnesota falls between $45,770 and $64,790.

The outlook for this job if very high, as there is a strong demand for social workers in Minnesota.

A social worker typically works for the county, so while they don't get bonuses, such as a holiday bonus, they do receive benefits such as sick leave, paid leave, and they also automatically get money taken out of their paychecks for retirement.

Career Related Occupations

  • Addiction Counselor
  • Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Probation Officer

Program of Study: Social Work

Program Overview

In a Social Work program, you would learn different things, such as counseling, and also how to manage casework. It prepares you to work in a variety of places such as a government agency, a hospital, or a school. You learn about things such as counseling techniques, substance abuse, mental illness, and child development.

Program Admission

Often, you need to pass specific classes in both high school and college with good grade in order to receive a major in social work. Also, you usually need to submit an official application, which includes a personal statement, a resume, your transcripts, and a background check.

Some recommended classes include:

  • Advanced English Composition courses
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Program Typical Course Work

Some undergraduate courses in the program include:

  • Child Welfare
  • Counseling
  • Human Behavior
  • Social Welfare Practice
  • Statistics
  • Supervised Fieldwork

Some graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

  • Required courses
  • Fieldwork
  • Thesis (master's degree)
  • Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
  • Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)

Also, you spend your third or fourth year doing field work, which is where you would actually work at a government agency, hospital, school, etc. You are closely supervised by a professional social worker and it gives the students an opportunity to see what it would be like to be a social worker.

Related Programs

Some related Programs include:
  • Addiction Counseling
  • Child Development
  • Corrections
  • Counseling and Human Services
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Sociology

Schools that Offer my Program of Study

  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • St. Cloud University
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Augsburg College

College Choice: Minnesota State University, Mankato

College Information

  • Size and Location: Minnesota State University, Mankato is located in Mankato, MN. The undergraduate program consists of about 13,650 students. The student top faculty ratio is 27:1. The average class size can range from 15-30 students, though there is one lecture hall which can hold 350 students.
  • Admission Requirements: You need to submit your ACT test score, along with your high school transcripts.
  • College Expenses: Tuition- $7574 Room and Board- $7368 Other Expenses- $2052
  • Financial Aid: FAFSA or SAR
  • Grants and Scholarships: Need-based scholarships include Federal Pell Grants, School or State Sponsored scholarships, Privately sponsored scholarships, and the FSEOG. Merit-based scholarships include Academic competitiveness, school sponsored scholarships, arts scholarships, special achievement scholarships, academic scholarships, and special character scholarships.
  • Housing: There are five residence halls on campus, though there are other housing opportunities, such as apartments, in the area.
  • Activities: You could join different clubs and organizations, such as athletic or fitness clubs, academic clubs, Greek organizations, Religious organizations, academic honors clubs, and special interest clubs.

Informational Interview

1. Briefly record your thoughts and feelings about the workplace and the person you just visited.

I think that this type of workplace would be interesting to work at. I found that I liked the fact that the work is different every day. However, I think it would be a bit frightening to work in a prison or a similar facility. Also, I would be nervous, as LesLiegh is, about people she worked with finding out information about her, such as her family and where they live.

2. What did you learn in the interview?

I learned that there are a lot of things that she does that I was not aware of, and also that the schooling is very similar to the things that I have been looking into. Also, I learned that working in a prion may not be the job for me, however I would still be interested in finding out more about an internship when I am in college, if that is what I choose to major in.

3. What did you like? What didn’t you like?

I liked that they do have a set schedule, however many times the day is different from every other day. It is not a desk job, though there is some paper work, so that offers a bit of excitement to the day.

I didn’t like that it was in a prison, which adults who had been charged. I would not mind working with children who have mental illnesses or something similar, but adults would make me a bit more cautious.

4. Did you uncover concerns or advantages to this occupation?

I found out that because it is a state job, the benefits are really good. You can receive retirement at 55, which is something that I don’t see as important now, but will need to start looking at in the future. I also found out that LesLiegh teaches more classes than I originally thought, and it requires a lot of counseling, which is something I have been looking into.

5. What advice did you receive?

I received advice about the personality you should have to do a job like this. You should have a good sense of boundaries and you also have to be strong, but not physically, more mentally and emotionally.

6. Did you discover another occupation to explore?

Mental Health Counselor and Social Worker are two similar jobs, however they are two that I have already been looking into.

7. How was the work environment?

The work environment can be a bit tense, as you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings.

8. Do you think you would be happy in this occupation?

No, because I would prefer to work with children.

Plans to Reach My Goal

To reach my goal as a social worker, I could do many different things int he job filed while in school. One of these opportunities is to get an internship. This would allow me to be with an actual social worker on the job, to see if this career would really be right for me.

Another thing I could do is job shadow. This would give me an in depth look at the exact things that social workers do.

I could also look into some sort of work study program. I do know that MSU offers a great social work problem. In this program, you can get your Master's Degree in five years, instead of six, which would be very beneficial in getting me into the workforce quickly with my graduate degree.

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