In this era, where more and more people run after the glittery world of corporates, we witness a contrasting world with a vision to work for the betterment of the society. Working for the society can be done through different ways, but the purpose always remains the same – impacting lives of people directly or indirectly.
Social work has its impact on various areas of development of a country. Do you know it is considered as one of the most valuable sources of evaluating a country’s progress? So much so that countries like Bhutan have started measuring the growth of their country not on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the Happiness Index termed as ‘Gross National Happiness’.
A lot of people assume that social work just involves working with NGO’s as a part-time activity. However, little do they know that it has established itself as a full-fledged career option, with brilliant professional opportunities in various government and private institutions.
In this article, I will touch upon various aspects of social work as a career, including leading colleges providing the course and the career prospects attached to it.
What is Social Work?
Social work is an academic discipline of social sciences and humanities where the main focus is to improve the social structure of the society and help the weak and underprivileged people of the community. Social workers work with individual, families and communities, and deal with issues related to social empowerment like poverty, unemployment and education.
Social workers work in varied fields, from working for the upliftment of the poor and oppressed, to working with children with special needs, there are a lot of ways that a social worker can contribute through their work. There are many other kinds as well, and students generally choose their specialisation after working a bit to gain experience in one particular field.
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How to Build a Career in Social Work?
To start a career in social work, you will first have to pursue your bachelor’s degree in Social Work, followed by a master’s. However, holding a bachelor’s in Social Work is not a necessary condition, and you can go for a master’s in the field even if you have graduated in any other subject for your bachelor’s.
In India, there are various leading colleges and universities offering these courses.
Bachelor’s In Social Work
The course content has core subjects and allied subjects, including basic concepts of Social Work, methods of Social Work, Sociology, Psychology, Human Growth & Development, etc. These subjects help you gain a holistic perspective of society and the role that a social worker plays to eradicate the problems in it.
Some Top Colleges for a Bachelor’s in Social Work
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tuljapur campus)
- Madras School of Social Work, Chennai
- Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
- Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi
- Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhi
Master’s In Social Work
People who are passionate to do field work and help organizations uplift their target population should go ahead and pursue a master’s degree in social work. Also, students interested in counselling and therapy for the underprivileged can consider a master’s in social work, along with a prior knowledge of Psychology as a field of study.
Doing a Master’s will help you groom yourself and develop the skills necessary to be a professional social worker, manage the challenges in the pursuit to add new dimensions to social welfare.
Some Top Colleges for a Master’s in Social Work
- Department of Social Work, University of Delhi – M.A. in Social Work
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai – M.A. in Social Work (Different specializations available – Criminology and Justice, Community Organization and Development Practice, Disability Studies and Action)
- Christ University, Bangalore – Master’s in Social Work (Specializations- Clinical and Community Practice, and Human Resource Development and Management)
- Loyola College of Social Sciences, Chennai – M.A. in Social Work
- Karve Institute of Social Service, Pune – Master’s in Social Work (MSW)
- Faculty of Social Work, MS University of Baroda – Master’s in Social Work (MSW)
- College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai – M.A. in Social Work
Professional Opportunities in Social work
Gone are the days when social work was only considered a philanthropic activity. Nowadays, it has emerged as one of the most in-demand professions in India.
Opportunities in this field lie across the globe, including top international organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is working stupendously around the globe to reduce poverty and enhance healthcare facilities. In 2014, with coordinated efforts of the organization and the Indian government, India announced that it was officially polio-free.
These developments have encouraged various other organizations to reach there. There are also various top NGOs in India. One such example could be Make a Difference (MAD). It is driven by the passion to work for the needy and tries to ensure equal opportunities for the youth. Other examples include project Nanhi Kali and Smile Foundation, with a goal to impart knowledge and provide education for the underprivileged.
The scope of social work is not limited to working in NGO’s but it opens up various positions at administrative, management and policy planning positions in various government as well as private companies. The opportunities in various sectors can vary depending upon your specialization at the master’s level.
1. Medical and Healthcare Sector
After choosing your specialization in medical aid and psychiatry, you can work in hospitals, clinics, counselling centers, mental hospitals, old age homes and similar institutions. Social workers in this field work with patients to ensure that proper care is being provided, and see that health and hygiene measures are being taken regularly for efficient working. They also take care of proper communication of patients with their families, and help with paperwork and decision making.
2. Corporate Sector
Those who have chosen to specialise in Labour Studies for their master’s can work in the private or corporate sector. MNCs and HR deparments of various companies that are labour-centric and have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department to look after the social needs of the employees, hire Social Work graduates.
3. Education and Research
You can always get into the education sector and teach students about the utility and value of Social Work. Once you complete your master’s, you need to clear the NET examination to pave your path to be a lecturer. You can also pursue your M.Phil/ Ph.D and enter the world of research.
You can be a social worker and aim at the overall development of the society while working with non-profit organizations. You can work with rural as well as urban populations and contribute to pertinent issues like poverty, unemployment, inadequate health and sanitation facilities, education facilities, etc.. The opportunities in this sector are endless. You can even join international NGOs like UNICEF, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Green Peace, etc.
5. Government Sector
You can be a community welfare officer or a welfare/development officer in government institutions like juvenile homes, state homes for women, HIV testing centres in hospitals, child and women development projects, etc. The main role would consist of managing administrative work, supervising new social projects to be undertaken, and ensuring the proper execution of long-term goals.
You can also choose Criminology or Criminal Justice as your specialization in Master’s, to work in prisons, correctional cells and similar institutions.
As you can see, there are a plethora of opportunities in the field of Social Work, and they are not limited to the ones mentioned above. You can always go ahead and be an entrepreneur in this field with a purpose and defined vision of social upliftment. Who knows how big of an impact you can make with your work. Isn’t that exciting?
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