Are you in education and are looking for a career change to social work? If so, you’re in luck. In this article, we will discuss how to career change from teaching.
Let’s get started!
- Research and Validate You Want A Career In Social Work.
Changing careers happen in a lot of people’s professional journey. You may be making the change because you are unhappy with being a teacher, or maybe you’re looking for more fulfilling and rewarding work.
Whatever your reason for switching careers, social work is a great option. The field is flexible and has a lot of career possibilities. Social work is also a relatively profession to transition into because a specific undergraduate degree isn’t always necessary to practice.
When combined with a Master of Social Work degree, licensure, work experience and knowledge from an undergraduate degree, individuals from previous careers can make it work.
But before making a final decision and following through with this career transition, it’s important to really ask yourself why you want this career change.
Social work is a large field with a lot of sub-sets. There are social workers that work in mental health clinics, academia, government agencies, prisons, nursing homes, industry or even private practice.
There are numerous opportunities and positions, so make sure you have the right one for you.
In order to validate your career choice, try asking yourself why you no longer want to work as a teacher? Why is social work your second option? What career opportunities will be available to you in social work?
We cannot answer the more personal questions for you, but we’ve done our research and have answered some of these questions. Let’s take a look at some of these answers:
What do Social Workers Do?
Social workers help vulnerable people deal with issues affecting their daily lives.
The responsibilities of a social worker are dependent on their area of expertise, but here are some common responsibilities
- Linking clients with community resources.
- Providing support and assistance to clients during crisis.
- Helping clients navigate their personal life challenges..
- Examining a client’s needs and strengths, while setting goals for them to achieve.
What is the typical career path for a Social Worker?
Another great aspect of social work is the growth potential the field provides. Advancement in social work though depends on ones area of expertise and field of practice.
- Child Welfare Social Workers: They work to resolve conflicts in households with children and act as children advocates by building safe and comfortable homes for children.
- Clinical Social Worker: These are licensed social workers that diagnose and treat mental health disorders.
- Gerontological Social Worker: These social workers assist elderly clients and their families with anything from meal planning, nursing homes, or location services.
- Medical Social Worker: These professionals’ help patients cope with chronic or terminal illnesses through psychological support.
- Mental Health Social Worker: These are a type of medical social workers that provide support, therapy and care to patients dealing with severe mental health issues.
- School Social Workers: These social workers work with children of every grade and help them deal with problems that can possibly affect their academics.
- Network with Social Work Professionals with a Teaching Background.
Now that you’ve validated your motivations for your new career choice and have hopefully picked an area of social work that interests you, the next helpful tip we have for you is reaching out to and speaking with other professionals who have a similar background with yours.
What we mean is speaking with other previous teachers who have successfully made the jump to new social work careers.
Why is this important?
A career change is not an easy decision to make and having someone you can be open with and who can possibly mentor you around any challenges you may face really makes all the difference.
Think about it, a former teacher will have a more personal experience about the hardships you might face. Additionally, someone who has successfully attempted what it is you’re trying to do will have much more knowledge on the best options to choose and the best way to go about things.
Communicating with both your personal and professional networks is a great way to get in touch with professionals who have a similar background. You can discuss your career interests with them, enabling them to connect you with possible opportunities.
Colleagues and previous colleagues can act as your professional network while friends and family can be your more personal network.
In case you’re considering going back to school to earn a social work degree, college recruitment fairs are also great for meeting professionals. Employers in the local area are known to provide lectures at these events.
You can also find professionals in the social work field by reaching out to them through professional networking websites like Linkedln, or through Quora, Facebook and Reddit forums.
- Get Training And Qualifications in Social Work
The next tip we have for you is enrolling in programs that will offer technical and practical trainings and qualifications required to become licensed and work as a social worker.
The basic educational requirement for a social work career is usually a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is not a must, but having a BSW can shorten the time you’ll use to complete a Masters in social work (MSW) by up to a year.
Degrees are a very traditional approach and help in laying a solid foundation, but usually take up to four years to complete and are expensive.
A BSW will typically prepare you to work with individuals, families and groups from different environments and walks of life. However, your experience teaching and working with children of different grade levels can also serve as a foundation for you.
Another way to become a social worker is by obtaining a master’s degree in social work (MSW) that will teach you the management skills needed to provide counseling services in your area of expertise.
There are different formats for MSW programs, some institutions offer online programs which are more flexible and convenient for employed professionals.
Not all social work roles require specific educational certifications or licensure, but to become a certified social worker or licensed clinical social worker, an MSW and after two years of supervised experience, licensure is required.
This however differs by country and even states, so make sure to do research into the requirements for your specific country/state.
After earning your degree and obtaining your license to practice, you can then choose your field by pursuing work in a setting that appeals to you. Do you want to work in a hospital? Prison? Care home? It’s up to you.
This is one of the areas where networking with similar professionals in the field is very handy; they will be able to better help you navigate through these certification and qualification processes easily.
- Acquire Social Work Experience.
Alongside earning your qualifications and certifications, acquiring actual work experience in the field is a great way to prepare you for a career as a social worker. Employers value both technical experience and practical experience.
MSW and BSW programs also look more favorably on candidates that have some experience working in social care settings or with disadvantaged communities.
Acquiring work experience will show employers that you have the right skills for performing essential duties and upholding social work policies and standards. Some skills that can be gained from work experience include;
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Empathy and emotional intelligence
- Organizational skills
- Problem solving skills
Another great thing is that your work experience will give you a more personal look into the day to day happenings of the field and may serve to harden your resolve. This is another step where networking with professionals can prove very useful; someone in your network may be willing to have you on as a mentee.
The best ways to acquire work experience in social work is through internships, volunteering, or placements.
Internships will allow you work in an environment with professionals in the field whom you will be able to learn from, you will also learn to apply your skills while simultaneously building your network.
Volunteering in social care settings may not offer financial incentives, but it will offer hands on experience and will show that you are capable of independent learning.
Placements are another way to get work experience. Keeping up to date with your colleges career office is the best way to fish out placement opportunities, as some companies may advertise these opportunities through colleges. MSW programs often require a set number of internship hours.
- Update Your Personal Brand Assets
Changing your line of work from accounting will require you to change and fine tune the way you present yourself professionally. Reviewing your CV, personal websites and Linkedln profile can go a long way in making your career change experience smoother.
Personal branding is all about marketing yourself and attracting recruiters and more job opportunities for you. Some good paces to start are;
- Your CV: Highlighting your skills and experience on your resume in a way that fits the requirements for a social worker is important. Using a functional CV that lists your relevant skills will shift the focus to what you can offer the company and what they stand to benefit from having you fill that position.
Your CV is an effective way to show employers how you will be a great asset for the position you’re applying for.
- Your Linkedln Profile: Your Linkedln profile is one of the first places that a hiring manger will check; this means it’s important to match the information on your CV to that on your Linkedln profile. As someone moving into a new career it’s also important to let recruiters know that you’re open for hiring and looking for new opportunities.
Optimize the headline section of your profile by listing major skills that will be required in your new profession. Also optimize the summary section of your profile by highlighting your work experience, certifications, projects, technical skills and expertise.
- Your Personal Websites: Your personal websites include all your social media accounts. A good tip is making sure all your social media accounts show you in a professional light; if possible let your social media activity reflect your interests and activities you may have carried out in relation to your new field of work. Make posts on topics that you’re passionate about and connect with professionals working in your field of interest.
- Bonus Tip: Take Action
Changing careers will always be a scary and daunting thing to follow through, but the good news is that it is very doable. You are not the first; many others have done it ahead of you. But you still have to do your own part to make this work for you.
Stop waiting until all your conditions are perfect. there is no perfect time to start, so do not over think things.
Now that you’ve decided that a teaching career is no longer for you and you’re interested in pursuing a social work career it’s time to stop, get up and do it!
Be committed to making this career change an actual reality. Motivate yourself and surround yourself with like-minded people who are ready to support you.
After using this guide to draft out your action plan the only thing that’s left for you to do is to get up and start doing it. Continue to build your momentum by taking action.
Need to do more research into the social work field? Start now, Need to decide the best program for you? Run it by your network and make a decision already. Connect with professionals in the field and start acquiring all the work experience you’ll need as soon as possible.
Be patient with yourself, but also give yourself a timeframe for achieving this dream of yours.
Changing careers can be a difficult thing to do, but with the right tools and attitude, you can make it happen! The six tips in this article are tested and proven when making the action plan that’ll you’ll need to make this career change a successful one for you.
Do some research into how a social work career best fit your experience, skills, personal needs and wants. Network with professionals who have a similar teaching background with you, build on your foundational knowledge by acquiring more work experience, skills, technical degrees and qualifications you’ll need for your new role.
Update your professional brand assets to align with the requirements for a social worker and market yourself as a perfect candidate for opportunities in your new career path.
Finally, take action and treat your career change as a job in itself. Make sure to invest your time, energy and any other resources you require into turning this dream of yours into a whole reality.
Social work is a great choice for a career change, equipping yourself with all the experience, skills and qualifications that are needed to succeed will help you do things right and will make the transition much smoother for you.