Day in the Life
usually spend most of their time in an office or residential facility, but
they also may travel locally to visit clients, meet with service providers,
or attend meetings. Some may meet with clients in one of several offices
within a local area. Social work, while satisfying, can be challenging.
Understaffing and large caseloads add to the pressure in some agencies. To
tend to patient care or client needs, many hospitals and long-term care
facilities employ social workers on teams with a broad mix of occupations,
including clinical specialists, registered nurses, and health aides.
Full-time social workers usually work a standard 40-hour week, but some
occasionally work evenings and weekends to meet with clients, attend
community meetings, and handle emergencies. Some work part time,
particularly in voluntary nonprofit agencies.
Advancement to supervisor, program manager, assistant
director, or executive director of a social service agency or department
usually requires an advanced degree and related work experience. Other
career options for social workers include teaching, research, and
consulting. Some of these workers also help formulate government policies
by analyzing and advocating policy positions in government agencies, in
research institutions, and on legislators' staffs.
Some social workers go into private practice. Most private
practitioners are clinical social workers who provide psychotherapy,
usually paid for through health insurance or by the client themselves.
Private practitioners must have at least a master's degree and a period of
supervised work experience. A network of contacts for referrals also is
essential. Many private practitioners split their time between working for
an agency or hospital and working in their private practice. They may
continue to hold a position at a hospital or agency in order to receive
health and life insurance.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor