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Most of us believe that Social Work is only for volunteers. For others, it is something that comes straight from the heart. That intense desire to bring a positive change in the world is what gives a social worker the power and motivation to work professionally in the field. There are several large social works and activist organizations like Amnesty International, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Humane Society International (HSI), etc. that employ paid social workers who have completed either a Bachelors or Masters in Social Work.
This begs the question – Can you make a lucrative career in social work? To answer this, you will first need to understand the essence of the field itself.
1. What is social work?
- The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) defines social work as a practical profession and an academic discipline that aims to promote social change and development for the betterment of human civilization.
- It banks on concepts like “Principles of Social Justice,” “Human Rights,” “Collective Responsibility” and “Respect for Diversities.”
- These are just some of the many theories that social workers need to be acquainted with for their professional practice. And that should give you some idea about what a Master’s degree in Social Work can teach you.
- But before you decide to enroll in such a course, you should understand fully well what social workers do in their day-to-day life.
2. What do social workers do?
The duties and responsibilities of social workers are diverse and cannot be contained into a single group of tasks. They have to handle a wide spectrum of responsibilities that include, but are not limited to –
- Identifying people or even entire communities who need immediate assistance.
- Evaluate the needs, situations, strengths of people who need help and develop a set of objectives that are geared towards providing this help.
- Empower people to adapt to changes around them and deal with personal challenges like bereavement, illness, unemployment, etc.
- Be an advocate for different types of social change.
- Be able to respond promptly to situations of crisis regarding anything from child abuse to employee exploitation.
- Maintain records and documentation of the people that have been helped.
- Develop support programs and services for those in need.
- And finally, even provide psychological therapy for those that need rehabilitation.
With such a diverse range of duties and responsibilities, having a Masters in Social Work (MSW) can help you be the best at what you do on your job.
3. Top Universities for Masters in Social Work course
If you think this assortment of responsibilities is a challenge you are built for, then you can proceed to look at some of the best universities across the world that offer a postgraduate degree in social work. Here are some that might interest you-
|University Name||Course Fees||Course Duration|
|University of Michigan, United States||$31,114 for students residing in Michigan and $49,562 for other students||16 months|
|Columbia University, United States||$25,400 per semester||24 months|
|Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland||#7,000 for Scottish and residents of UK and #14,500 for international students||24 months|
|Flinders University, Australia||$34,500 per year||24 months|
|Monash University, Australia||⚬21,780 per year||24 months|
|University of Auckland, New Zealand||NZ$7,914 – $8,068.80 for domestic students and NZ$36,800 for international students||24 months|
|Carleton University, Canada||Undisclosed||12 months/24 months|
|McGill University, Canada||CA$11,442.13||24 months|
|SIM University, Singapore||$24,758 onwards||24 months|
All of these universities are well-known and highly accredited. They offer Master in Social Work courses that are structured and directed towards building all the necessary competencies.
Upon graduating from any of these universities, you will be eligible for employment as a skilled social worker because you will have learned about some of the most important subjects related to social work.
4. Subjects taught in Masters in Social Work course
Since social work is often hailed as a multidisciplinary field of study, an MSW course encompasses various subjects. Each of these subjects is equally important in developing your competencies and knowledge base as a social worker.
Take a look at just a few of the most important subjects you can learn in such a course-
- History of Social Work
- Social Work Research and Quantitative Analysis
- Community Intervention and Entrepreneurship Development
- Ideology and Ethics of Social Work
- Social Legislation and Labor Welfare
- Tribal Anthropology and Social Work
- Human Growth and Development
- Rehabilitation and Resettlement
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Poverty Reduction, Micro Finance, and Micro Enterprises
- Compulsory Fieldwork
- Research Work
While most universities teach a wide range of subjects for MSW courses, the Master of Social Work in Australia also provides memberships to the Australian Association of Social Workers. This can help you build a professional network in the field.
5. Masters in Social Work Course Eligibility
Now that you are aware of the different subjects taught in an MSW course, you might begin to consider applying for the program. Each of the universities mentioned above has different criteria of eligibility that you need to meet to qualify for the course. However, here are some general criteria that usually apply to all of these universities-
- You should have completed 12 years of schooling and 3 years of graduation to qualify for the Masters in Social Work.
- Submitting a Statement of Purpose (SOP) essay can also help increase your chances of getting accepted at these prestigious universities.
- If you are looking to apply for a postgraduate research-based course, then you should submit a research proposal along with your documents.
- Moreover, you should have at least 1 or 2 years of work experience and a minimum of 2 references to back up this experience.
- Most of these universities require you to maintain an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least Band 7.
- Finally, your overall student portfolio should align with the student profile of these universities, and your interview before admission should yield a good result.
Apart from these basic eligibility criteria, it also helps if you have certain essential skills that are required to be a successful social worker. Although the top social work masters programs will guide you towards developing most of these skills and competencies, it can do you more good to develop some of them beforehand.
6. Skills required for an MSW Course
The duties of social workers are dynamic and hence their skill sets need to be equally prolific. While empathy towards the plight of the needy and a thriving passion to contribute positively to society are some of the initial qualities you need to have, there are certain professional skills that you need to acquire as well.
- Communication skills: Since the job of a social worker is mostly a people-centric role, you need to be extremely proficient in verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Organizational skills: As a graduate of Master of Social Work, job responsibilities will require you to have dedicated organizational skills as well.
- Critical thinking skills: You will be involved with tackling complex problems like social and even environmental issues for which critical thinking skills are an excellent asset.
- Active listening skills: Along with communication skills, you also need to be a good listener. Active listening skills can enable you to listen carefully to people’s problems and seek out practical solutions.
- Cultural competency: One of the most important skills needed in this career is emotional intelligence, and with it comes cultural competency, which helps you understand the nuances of different cultures.
- Patience: Most importantly, you need to have patience when dealing with people because it can be challenging at times.
- Advocacy skills: Finally, for a Masters in Social Work course, you will need to have the skill of advocacy so that you can inspire others to participate in your cause and make the world a better place.
7. Salary of Social Workers
After graduating from a postgraduate social work course, you can attempt to look for fruitful employment in several sectors. Check out the list of salary scales of social workers from across the world to get a better idea of what to expect in this career path-
- USA – $55,740 per year onwards
- UK – #30,462 per year onwards
- Canada – $59,007 per year onwards
- Singapore – $43,428 per year onwards
- Australia – $89,765 per year onwards
- A Masters in Social Work is often considered an unconventional course in many countries but if you are passionate about helping people and making a career out of it, this could be the perfect course for you.
- While most of these postgraduate courses require you to have a graduation degree in any discipline, having a Bachelors in Social Work before doing your master degree can be an added advantage.
- Moreover, a social worker is a highly respectable career choice in most western countries, meaning you can even start your career abroad as a social worker.
That’s all for now! If you have any more questions about which program to choose, you can drop a comment below on reach out to us.
Liked this blog? Read: Top 10 NGOs for volunteering!
1. Which country is best for the MSW course?
While the USA and the UK are considered the two best places for an MSW course, the career opportunities for the same are more prominent in the USA.
2. Which course is best after MSW?
After completing your MSW course, you can study further by doing a PhD in Social Work.
3. Is a master in social work hard to study?
The Masters in Social Work (MSW) course contains course studies, research work, and even fieldwork, making it a well-rounded postgraduate course. If you are a person who finds such comprehensive programs interesting, then the MSW can be an easy course for you.