What can I do with an associate’s degree in social work?

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pennsylvania-social-worker-continuing-educationMarjorie at Chemeketa Community College asked:

I will graduate in the spring of 2016 with an Associate’s degree Human Services: Social Work.  What are my career options with this degree?

Hi Marjorie:

The degree you are pursuing has some very specific requirements related to getting field experience in human services/social services. Your school provides a lot of information on places you can complete your practicum/field experience, all of which are within the vicinity of your school.

The purpose of the degree is to prepare students for entry-level work in social services agencies.  If that is what you want to do when you graduate, your path is pretty clear:

  • Complete your course work (and do well in your classes)
  • Complete the required practicum to get some field experience (and impress them with your preparedness, willingness to learn and professionalism)
  • Seek employment as you approach graduation (don’t wait until after you graduate to start looking for a job)

To explore your options in preparation for your practicum, I recommend you do the following:

  • Talk to your professors and get their recommendations for possible practicum sites
  • Talk to fellow students who are currently doing (or have already done) their practicums to learn about their experiences
  • Research the agencies on the list provided by your school to see which ones appeal to you most
  • Visit with a career advisor at your school to work on your resume and other application materials

Your exploration and resulting practicum wil provide a good overview of the career options in your field and will be the foundation of your job search.

One note, if you wish to become a social worker, you will need to pursue additional education and get the necessary certifications.  In order to become licensed as a clinical social worker in your state, you will need at least a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) degree from a college or university accredited by, or in candidacy with, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW).

Good luck as you explore your practicum options and complete your degree,

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