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Social Work - Overview


Social work programs prepare people to counsel disadvantaged groups and individuals. Students learn about counseling methods and how to manage casework. They also learn when to make referrals to other services.

Social work is often called the "helping profession." As a social worker, you help people meet their basic needs. This includes finding work and forming healthy and stable family relationships. In addition, social workers may help clients avoid drugs and alcohol or cope with physical or mental disabilities. As a social worker, you use your organizational and research skills to help people have the best life they can, even with obstacles in their way.

With a degree in social work, you can work as a case manager, counselor, advocate, or policy analyst. You can work for private groups, government agencies, or substance abuse centers. You can also work for prisons, juvenile correctional homes, schools, or mental health clinics. Depending on your interests, you can focus your work on children, adults, older people, or families. You can also concentrate on helping people with drug or alcohol abuse problems or people with mental illnesses.

In social work programs, you take courses in counseling, public policy, social work practice, and social work history. You also take courses in ethics and cultural diversity. Usually you are required to take statistics and social research methods. You also take courses from different areas of study, such as psychology, sociology, and economics. Often you are required to take courses in biology and human behavior.

Most four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in social work. Many also offer graduate degree programs. Typically you receive a bachelor's degree in social work in four years. Some community colleges offer two-year programs in social work or a related field which can be transferred to a four-year college or university. Graduate programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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