Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) are among the most sought-after professionals in the United States. Recruitment experts believe the field is set for growth far outstripping the development of the American job market overall.
Becoming an LCSW allows social workers access positions in hospitals, government agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and private practice. Helping others through challenging times is one of the most challenging yet rewarding careers.
Prerequisite Skills of Successful Social Workers
A career in social work is more than simply another job. It is a vocation. Individuals who choose this profession often display some of the same characteristics. They tend to be patient and empathetic individuals who are well-organized and know how to set boundaries. Most successful social workers are also great listeners.
While some of those skills can be learned during training or on the job, many are personality traits that social workers are born with.
Social workers actively work with others throughout their professional life to help them change detrimental behaviors. To facilitate that, social workers must put themselves in their clients’ positions to empathize with their struggles.
Without empathy, it is almost impossible to help clients improve or recover. Changing behavior rarely happens overnight. It is why social workers must be patient in their professional life. They may witness client setbacks but still need to encourage.
Social workers must also learn to set boundaries between their professional and social lives. Setting boundaries includes time management and self-care. Plus, most social workers excel at listening actively to what a client has to say.
Getting Qualified as an LCSW
Most social workers start their careers with a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a related field like psychology or sociology. While a BSW opens up many career opportunities, those seeking licensure must qualify further.
The next step toward the LCSW license is a graduate degree from a university approved by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE retains a list of all approved degree programs.
With academic requirements fulfilled, social workers need to check their state’s exact requirements for licensure. In most cases, gaining an LCSW license involves completing a set amount of supervised work with a more experienced colleague. Plus, social workers also need to pass an exam.
Finding a Job in Social Work
Experts predict that the demand for social workers will grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030. That means the industry is growing much faster than the rest of the U.S. economy. Job security is high for graduates and those looking to become an LCSW.
With nearly 190,000 LCSWs already employed across the country, recruiters expect to see tens of thousands of openings yearly. Even out of college, finding a job in social work is reasonably straightforward. Graduates can search on platforms like LinkedIn or take advantage of their university’s relationship with potential employers.
Because the field offers such varied careers, many social workers start in one area and then try another. Finding a job in social work is as much about selecting the correct position in the field as it is about securing employment.
Social Work Salaries and Job Prospects
With more than 75,000 annual job openings predicted by the Bureau for Labor Statistics, job prospects remain excellent for LCSW. Social work is certainly crisis resistant. Even throughout the coronavirus pandemic, social workers continued to be busy, although many shifted to working remotely.
On average, social workers make just over $50,000 per year. However, what LCSWs are being paid can vary depending on the exact nature of their position in their location. Recruitment experts currently find that in California, the average wage for LCSW is just over $95,000. Social work is a few sectors where women are paid more than their male colleagues.
Choosing a Career Path to Suit You
Social work is a rewarding career, but it can also be a highly demanding choice.
Setting up their private practice allows social workers to determine their workload and set their hours. They can offer online and offline services, depending on their preference and the needs of their clients.
Partnering with a platform like TrueCare allows licensed clinical social workers to focus entirely on their clients. Practitioners no longer need to worry about finding clients or setting aside time for administrative tasks. The platform’s back-office team takes care of that.
LCSWs benefit from manageable caseloads as well as receiving competitive pay and benefits. Those who offer in-person counseling will be matched with clients nearby, limiting the need for long commutes. With the growing demand for LCSWs in the public and private sectors, partnering with an agency is convenient and efficient for practitioners and clients.