Not every member of the corporate world is in love with their jobs. Employees may have held down a steady job in the for-profit sector for some time, but that ideal promotion remains elusive. They could find themselves on a plateau in their current roles and daydream about making a difference in a more hands-on career. Mostly though, corporate workers may be looking for a change that will take them away from their office environment and grow a career working with and helping people.
For many, one possible solution may be an online Master of Social Work. Here is why the MSW may be ideal for career-changers burnt out on corporate work.
Switching may not mean starting over
Switching gears to a new career can feel daunting. Thankfully, the concept of changing a career is not new, and there are plenty of professionals doing just this each and every day. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.9 jobs between the ages of 18 and 50. When this survey group was aged 35 to 44, 75 percent of their jobs ended within five years. It’s safe to say that with so many economic factors bearing down on a multitude of industries, making a career switch is a frequent part of one’s professional journey.
Fortunately, if prospective MSW students decide to make the career change into the social work field, it’s not necessary to have a bachelor’s degree in this field. Their existing degrees as well as their work experience are both beneficial to shaping a new social work career. Earning a Master of Social Work on top of existing degrees, such as online degree programs like the one available at the Rutgers School of Social Work, increases opportunities within the field. With no GRE requirement, this program is accessible to anyone interested in exploring a career change into social work.
Gain more professional certainty
According to the BLS, “the average overall job growth for the period of 2014 to 2024 is 7 percent. The social work sector is expected to easily trump that figure, achieving a 12 percent job expansion during that time.” This above-average job growth could create around 74,800 new positions in the field. The driving force behind this growth is the demand for healthcare and social services throughout the country. That’s a significant opportunity, not likely felt in many for-profit corporations at this time.
This growth is also influenced by the sheer variety of career paths within social work. For example, new social workers could decide they would like to use a Master of Social Work to become a clinical social worker or administrator within the healthcare field. Expanding upon a desired role, students can dive deeper into a specialty. From geriatric, Hospice and palliative care to school social work, MSW students can essentially customize a career in social work to create their ideal role, where it may be easier to remain interested and passionate about work.
Beyond the variety of options in the social work field and the projected amount of jobs in demand for the future, career certainty increases with the level of education obtained. While it may be easier to find social work employment with prior experience in the industry, having a Master of Social Work can enable graduates to potentially bypass entry-level positions and move directly into advanced roles. This degree also increases eligibility for clinical roles, where MSW graduates are able to diagnose and treat certain issues and provide therapy in addition to helping people develop strategies to address situations in their everyday lives.
A return to school can prepare for a social work career
Prospective students might have concerns about continuing their education, especially while managing other life commitments. When determining whether or not to go back to school, students should have a full understanding of what’s required of them as students and how they will fit the program into their busy lifestyles. The ease with which students can get back into academia can depend on finances, existing obligations, and how long ago enrollees were students.
There are two important questions to ask to help establish whether continuing education is the correct choice:
Can students continue working while completing their degree? Many of today’s graduate programs are geared toward working professionals, offering flexibility in their programs to meet the needs of all student lifestyles. The online Master of Social Work program at Rutgers allows students to learn from anywhere according to their individual schedules so they’re able to balance studies with the rest of life’s commitments. Small class sizes provide ample time to interact online with faculty and classmates as well. Having the flexibility of an online program allows students the option to work while earning an MSW with mitigated risk of feeling stretched too thinly between the two. Although, it is important to remember that the field placement or internship component may have stricter scheduling requirements for students.
Does the program prepare students to specialize in their areas of interest? With social work being such a varied professional field, it’s important to make sure the program students select offers opportunities in their desired areas. At Rutgers, students in the online MSW program can specialize in Clinical Social Work and earn a certificate in Violence Against Women and Children.
The day-to-day of a social worker
In a traditional corporate job, employees clock in around nine a.m. and clock out around five p.m. They sit in the stereotypical office environment, in a cubicle, and work on computers for the majority of the day. A social worker’s office, on the other hand, is their community. Professionals identify vulnerable populations and connect with people in more intimate settings, such as their homes or community centers. This keeps social workers on the move.
What else do social workers do? They can:
- Observe individuals or groups of people for information relevant to their cases
- Communicate with peers or clients, sometimes in the form of therapy
- Resolve conflicts and provide guidance or advice
- Build constructive and healthy relationships with members of their communities
- Plan and organize treatment plans or other strategies to solve cases
Overall, social work is a people-based profession. While this career does include paperwork, social work is more personal, interactive, and engaging than the average office job. Rarely does a day go by when social workers are not communicating face-to-face with clients or colleagues. This can be a refreshing change of pace for professionals currently in the nine to five corporate environment.
Prospective MSW students should remember that when looking for a career change, social work is a profession with options as well as opportunity. Today’s social workers can be found in hospitals, health clinics, schools, social service organizations, the criminal justice system, and private practices, among other settings. They work with families, children, Hospice patients or mental health patients. They can focus on public health, substance abuse, child welfare, or correctional work. For those looking to move on to a profession that is truly concerned with helping people, it’s time to push out of the office chair and take that first step toward change by exploring options for a Rutgers University Online Master of Social Work.