Social workers enjoy helping less fortunate people to resolve personal, financial, health, emotional, and occupational issues in their lives. It takes dedication and patience to work with populations of under-educated, disabled, poor, or homeless men, women, and children. However, most social workers will tell you that it’s the challenges and successes that give them the greatest job satisfaction.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than half of employed social workers in America have jobs in social assistance agencies or in healthcare. One third work for the Federal, state, or local government. Career specializations include:
- Child, family and school social workers
- Medical and public health social workers
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers
Social Work Education Requirements & Licensing
Many entry-level positions require social worker candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or related major field of studies in psychology, counseling, or sociology. Clinical, educational, or healthcare social work positions often require applicants to hold a master’s degree in social work (MSW). In many cases, you’ll need a post-graduate degree to advance to an administrative or training role in a public or private social service agency.
All of the states have licensing, certification, or registration requirements for their social workers. It is common for states to require job candidates to complete two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience before obtaining their credentials.
How to Become a Substance Abuse Social Worker / Counselor
If you become a substance abuse counselor, you’ll help people break the out of addictions and substance abuse problems that can cripple their lives. In short, you’ll provide important help for people with real needs.
Substance abuse counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to help people who are substance abusers to break free of their addictions. In addition, they help substance abusers and the people in their lives to see the behaviors that lead to and reinforce their abuse. By approaching substance abuse problems from multiple angles, substance abuse counselors help people to reclaim their lives as fully as possible. If you become a substance abuse counselor, your work will most likely be divided in several parts: talking with people one on one, working with families and groups, and interacting and collaborating with your colleagues.
In most states, in order to work as a counselor, you must hold a license, and licensing requirements typically include a master’s degree. So if you’re looking to become a substance abuse counselor, a graduate degree in counseling, social work, or a closely related field is critical. While a bachelor’s degree in a field like psychology or social work alone may not qualify you to become a substance abuse counselor, it can help you learn about the field and get a feel for whether or not the profession is right for you.
Counselors make important differences in people’s lives, and if you become a substance abuse counselor, you can make a difference that lasts a lifetime.