How to become a Social Worker and career in Social Work

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“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”  Gautama Buddha

There are many people who opt for a career in social work as it gives the satisfaction of contributing positively to our society. It is a career for those who believe in being and doing ‘good’, and helping those who are n misery. The scope of work for social work professionals is increasing every day. From education to medicine to justice to forest conservation to animal rights, you can associate with a number of causes and make a career in the field. Social workers handle a number of functions such as research work, policy development, and community work, supervisory and managerial work.

Though social work is related mainly to charity work and protecting lives of vulnerable human beings and other creatures, in broader terms, it is also related to coping with socio-economic complexities and providing decent living standards for every human in the society.

How to become a social worker?

 Anyone who has a passion for social service can enter this profession. There are many people who work individually or with NGOs as volunteers, and there are many who single-handedly bring on monumental changes in the society. You must have heard about Dashrath  Manjhi, a laborer from Gehlaur village in Gaya, Bihar who cut through a hillock single-handedly to connect this village to the nearest town with medical facilities. Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Prize in 2014. He is children’s rights activist and has protected the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries. Such luminaries do not need any educational degree to claim respect and honor from others. They neither depend on remuneration for their sustenance, nor do they care for rewards and recognition.

However, if you look up to Social Work as a potential career, you should follow a more formal path to enter the field. For people who do need a salary to run their homes, the Bachelor and master courses in Social Work is the way to go. Students from any stream can opt for the Bachelor course while Sociology graduates may get a bit more preference when it comes to taking admission in the Masters course.

Certificate and Diploma courses you can do to enter the field are:

  • Certificate in Social Work,
  • Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling,
  • Advanced Certificate in Social Welfare Administration,
  • Diploma in Personnel Management,
  • Diploma in Hospital Administration,
  • Postgraduate certificate in social welfare Administration, and,
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methodology.

Qualified social workers can find jobs in NGOs, school, hospitals, courts and public agencies. They can also get employed by government or corporate agencies that are involved in relief work to those who are struck by natural disasters on other types of cries. Those who are interested in higher studies can go for M.Phil and PhD courses in the field and get involved in research work, consultancy or policy making or administrative work.

You should opt for doing a Social Work course only if you have the ability to analyze an issue well, can take prompt decisions, have a good understanding of human psychology, and have an immense patience to deal with complex situations efficiently.

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Top 10 Social Work colleges in India

  1. Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai
  2. Department of Social work, University of Delhi, Delhi
  3. Madras School of Social work, Chennai
  4. Department of Social Work, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi
  5. College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai
  6. Loyolo College of Social Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram
  7. Karve Institute of Social Service, Pune
  8. Faculty of Social work, MS University of Baroda, Vadodara
  9. Department of Social Work, Mangalore University, Mangalore
  10. Roda Mistry College of Social Work & Reseach Centre, Hyderabad

Master of Social work (MSW)

The field of Social Work is interdependent on other fields like Anthropology, Economics, Philosophy, and Sociology. A degree in Social work can help you understand all the aspects of the field, such as its code of ethics, Credentials you practice standards. The coursework often includes classroom studies as well as field training, seminars and dissertation.

The Master of Social work (MSW) is a two-year postgraduate programme with four semesters. It is considered both a professional degree and an academic degree. Besides full-time courses, one can pursue the course through part-time, correspondence, or distance learning modes. The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) allows you to complete the 2-year MSW course in a maximum of 5 years though correspondence but this time period may vary from institute-to-institute.

Some universities and institutes offer the course as Master of Arts in Social work or MA (SW). You may also find universities that offer five year integrated course in social work which combines BSW and MSW.

In good universities and institutes, the selection for MSW course takes place through Entrance Test, Group Discussion and Interview. The aim of the interview is to assess whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the social work or not.

Some of the popular entrance exams for admission to MSW are:

  • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) MSW Entrance Test
  • Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) MA (Social work) Admission Entrance Test
  • Sree Sankaracharya University (SSUS) MSW Entrance Examination
  • Tata institute of Science and Technology (TISS) Entrance Exam

Most of the MSW admission tests have objectives-type question to assess a potential candidates General Knowledge, Aptitude for Social Work, Verbal Skills, and Reasoning Ability. Most institutions follow negative marking system in the entrance exam to discourage random guessing by students.

In India, the course is mostly available in English and Hindi. The most popular MSW specializations are:

  • Community Development,
  • Family and child welfare,
  • Medical and Psychiatric Social Work, and
  • Industrial Relations and Labor welfare.

Usually, the final-year students of MSW course can specialize in any two of the above fields. The other specializations in the field one can opt for are:

  • Human Resource Management,
  • Personnel Management,
  • Urban and Rural Community Development,
  • School Social Work, and
  • Criminology and Correctional Administration.

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Job Prospects for Social workers

Being change agents, social workers need to have a variety of skills and techniques to historically handle people and their environments. The interventions they get involved in can range from person-focused psycho-social processes to wide-ranging activities like planning and development of social policies. The nature of work is quite diverse too. You may get involved in counseling, pedagogical work, clinical work, group work, family treatments, therapies for substance abuse and to help people access various resources, schemes and services available for them.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore

The three categories in which all social work efforts can be grouped under are:

  • Macro-level Social work: This impacts society or communities as a whole. Advocacy and policy making on a national or international scale come under this category.
  • Mezzo-level Social Work: This is related to agencies, smaller organizations, or smaller group of people. Developing programs for a particular community or neighborhood come under this category.
  • Micro-level Social Work: the work that impacts individuals or families, such as rehabilitation of alcoholics, is grouped under this category.

MSW is quite popular internationally. Premier organizations like EHO, UNESCO, UNICEF and CRY employ social workers to conduct awareness campaigns and major projects in third-world and developing countries. The internationally recognized professional bodies like the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), International Association of Schools of Social Work, British Association of Social workers and the National Association or Social Workers which is the largest professional organization of social workers in the US – also offer good employment prospects to Indian social workers along with high salaries.

Help age India, other old age homes, orphanages, prisons, corrections cells, counseling centers, disaster management Department, education sector, clinics, hospitals, health industry, associations or groups related to gender issues or tribal welfare, human rights agencies, companies related to management of natural resources, and HR departments in various industries also hire people who are social work specialists.

The Indian government has also undertaken a lot of flagship social welfare initiatives in the two years, such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India and Clean India, in which the government aims to promote cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene across the country. Then, there is the project of building 100smart cities. Other major projects started by the government are:

  • Startup India, Standup India: offers loans in the range of Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 1 crore to Dalits and women who want to start new venture. The process of setting up a new venture. The process of setting up s new startup has also been eased. Now, 1.25 lakh banks will offer loans to 1.25 lakh young entrepreneurs from marginalized communities. It is now mandatory for the 292 PSUs in India to procure 20% of their requirements from the MSME sector.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: Varanasi will soon get 11 solar-powered e-boats and 1,000 e-rickshaws to reduce pollution and improve the quality of life of the beneficiaries. Free LPG Connections will also be provided to 5 crore BPL (below poverty line) women in the next three financial years.
  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojna: India’s solar power generation capacity has been increased from 1,500 MW to 10,000 MW in a short span of time.7, 012 villages have already been electrified under the scheme launched in 2015.
  • Aadhar and Jan Dhan Yojna: They have been envisioned to address financial inclusion of workers of the unorganized sector in pension and insurance schemes, and other similar benefits.
  • Gramoday se Bharat Uday Abhiyan: The objectives of this campaign are to strengthen the Panchayati Raj System and boost rural development and Welfare schemes for the farmers.

It includes initiatives like construction of five lakh farming pools to improve the ground water table, and the launch of e-NAM.

  • UMANG (Unified Mobile APP for New age Governance): The government is developing a mobile-based app which will integrate 200 public service such as passport services, income tax, e-Post, women safety and more.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana: Under the scheme, affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor in 2,508 cities in 26 states.

All of these initiatives hire people with relevant skills and expertise. In short, there is no dearth of job opportunities in the field.

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How much does a social worker earn?

Though there is no fixed pay scale for social workers, teachers and social workers in rural areas often start at a pay scale of Rs. 7,000 to 8,000 per month. Social workers employed with NGOs and government projects often earn good-enough salaries and perks. The general trend shows that international NGOs pay more than the India-based NGOs. There are many social workers who run their own NGOs and make good money out of them.

Most of the corporate houses today have their own corporate social responsibility (CSR) wings, which organize myriad activities to help those who are in need. These may include giving skill training and offering jobs to those who complete it successfully. Offering education to poor children, taking up cleanliness drives or adopting a village. These CSR departments offer rewarding careers to social workers with good salaries and high job satisfaction. Earlier, social work was considered a low-paid profession but with more and more corporate entities entering the field, social experts get paid as much as professionals from other fields.

“The best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

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