Buildup your career in social work

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By: Kaustov Kashyap

Are you a person who really wants to serve the society or lend your service to the needy? Do you have enough compassion or consideration for the needy to put them first than your own lucrative development? If so, here is an apt career for you which is challenging and at the same time provides great mental satisfaction. It is the career in Social Service, in other words, pure charity work that has gradually grown into a profession. People who were involved in charity work understood the drawbacks of the lack of scientific approach to their work and so gradually it was developed into a profession scientifically by applying theoretical and practical knowledge. Social work is all about improving the lives of people by helping them to deal with their problems such as personal issues, diseases, unemployment etc. It is an exciting, demanding and immensely rewarding profession which requires exceptional dedication to strive for social reform. Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to improve people’s lives.

Social workers are the helping hands for needy people who are suffering from homelessness, poverty, violence, abuses and diseases like cancer, AIDS etc. They work towards the solutions of people’s social, economic and emotional problems through counseling, arranging conferences, increasing resources, spreading public awareness and starting social programs and health services. The area of service for a social worker is wide, which can range from working in various developmental projects of the government to working for NGOs. The work of a social worker can be related to an educational programme, health, environment or forest and water management. It is the duty of the social worker to answer their client’s specific needs and to do the follow up for providing apt service to them.

Eligibility & course areas

In earlier days, social work did not demand any professional qualification and several people made a successful career in this field without any formal training. However, the situation has changed and the career has now gained a status of a full-fledged profession. Social Work as a discipline is available in many universities and institutes in India, both at the graduate and postgraduate levels. Some of these institutes offer postdoctoral research facilities as well. Apart from the degree in social work, other educational qualifications in allied fields like criminology, anthropology, psychology, occupational therapy, sociology and health and hospital administration are also found equally suitable to work in this area. The minimum requirement for a professional position in this field is a bachelor’s degree in Social work (BSW/BA). It is a 3 years course open for all those who have passed plus 2 examinations or its equivalent. A graduate in any discipline can join for the Master’s degree course in Social work (MSW/MA) which is of 2 years duration. But students with a background in social work, psychology, social science, sociology or any other related fields will get preference. Specialization in MSW includes Human resource management, Criminology and correctional administration, medical and psychiatric social work, family and child welfare, rural and urban community development and schools social work. A master’s degree in Social work is necessary for positions in the mental health field and general supervisory positions. For higher studies in this field, one could do the doctoral and research programs like MPhil and PhD. These higher degrees are usually required for teaching and some research and administrative jobs. Apart from these, several diploma and certificate courses are also available in the field of Social work.

Some universities conduct entrance examinations for entry to their courses in Social work, but some institutes offer admission on the basis of marks obtained in the last qualifying exam. Community organization, social policy and planning, ecology and social work, political science, health, social problems and women’s studies, child care and family services, labour welfare and industrial relations, problems of marginalized groups, rural studies, medical and psychiatric social work etc. are some of the subjects taught in the courses of Social Work.

Personal skills

Social Work is a job with high responsibilities which require good interpersonal communication skills, emotional stability, objectivity and sensitivity. Besides educational qualifications, a social worker requires certain personality traits like compassion for the underprivileged and a genuine urge or interest to help them, capacity to work hard under far-from-perfect working conditions, patience and dedication. A social worker should be a good listener, be supportive, know how to comfort people and be ready to work under any circumstances without any time schedule. They should not have a judgmental approach but should have a flexible outlook. They must be able to understand human psychology, should possess the ability to analyze an issue and take decisions apt to the situation.

Job Prospects & Career Options

Social Work is a really vast field and the job prospect of a social worker is not specific to a particular field. Enormous employment opportunities are available for social workers in private as well as public sector companies. Though it was considered a low paid profession earlier, these days many corporate offices are taking up social responsibilities and they search for good qualified social workers who are paid in par with the other workers. Career opportunities in this field would depend on an individual’s area of specialization. Social workers who specialize in the area of human resource management can get jobs in the Personnel, HRM, Welfare departments of factories and commercial organizations as executive officers, trainee officers, welfare officers and social security officers. Trained professionals can get executive card jobs in government, semi-government undertakings, private organizations as labor welfare officers, welfare officers, social workers etc. There are also Non-Government Organizations (NGO) and institutes providing services to different sections in the society. NGO’s need trained social workers to work in various fields. Social workers can also take up teaching assignments. After a few years of experience, one can even become a consultant with various organizations and can also start freelance work.

Social workers can pursue a career as a counselor in healthcare, adoption, environmental protection, community policing etc. They can specialize in child welfare and family services, mental health services, public assistance, medical social work, community organization, social work, planning and policy development or social welfare administration. Some of the work areas of Social workers may include -Clinical Social Work, School Social Work, Psychiatric Social Work, Criminology and Correctional Social Work, Medical Social Work and Community Industrial Social Work. Vast opportunities are also available for social workers abroad. Globalization has widened the scope of employment for students opting for social work as their career. They may choose to join international NGOs like Amnesty International, Oxfam and Green Peace etc.

Remuneration

Both governmental and non-governmental organizations appoint social workers as their employees. The remuneration in this field will depend upon the organization in which one works for, their experience and the area of work. Even though there is no fixed pay scale for this profession, one could get an initial pay of INR20000 to 25000 per month depending on the organization. However, salaries and perks are higher in International NGOs.

Institutes

Many institutions in Assam offer courses like BSW, MSW, PhDs in Social Work as well as diploma courses. Some institutes even offer campus placements for their students in reputed organizations.

  • Assam University, Silchar
  • Assam Kaziranga University, Jorhat
  • Royal Global University, Guwahati
  • Assam Down Town University, Guwahati
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati
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