How to Become a School Social Worker

Are you looking for a rewarding career path that gives you the opportunity to help students in need? Are you interested in social worker jobs in schools? Or are you wanting to become a school social worker, but are not sure where to begin? 

If any of this sounds familiar, keep reading to discover how you can start your journey to becoming a school social worker. We cover everything from what social work is to the job outlook for this rewarding career. Let’s dive in.

What Is School Social Work?

School social work is a broad field that varies greatly based on the needs of the learning institution and the state you reside in. Generally, school social workers provide cursory mental health services to students. Additionally, school social workers may connect parents, staff, and students with outside resources so that pupils can be more successful.

Put more broadly, school social workers will work to promote the overall well-being of the students they serve. This involves promoting socio-emotional health as well as helping students achieve academic success.

Why Is Social Work Important?

Social work has become one of the most important fields in the education system. Social workers bridge the gap between students, staff, mental health professionals, and outside resources. 

Without social workers, school staff would struggle to understand the mental health needs of their pupils. In turn, students would struggle to connect with the right professionals and resources to navigate their socio-emotional challenges. 

Social workers serve not only as resources for students but educators as well. Teachers already have so many responsibilities on their plates. They do not have the time to acquire the additional skills needed to help their students overcome mental health challenges and external social pressures. Social workers fill this critical void.

How to Become a School Social Worker

If you want to become a social worker, step one involves familiarizing yourself with your state’s unique licensure requirements. While almost all states have similar requirements, no two have an identical set of rules and regulations. Specific educational requirements can usually be found on your home state’s department of education website. 

After you know what sort of educational and experiential requirements your state has established, you will need to enroll in the appropriate program. At a minimum, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree in social work or an associated field. However, many states now prefer or require social workers to obtain a master’s degree in social work. 

Depending on your state’s regulations and the type of school where you want to work, you may also need to acquire supplemental certifications. These auxiliary credentials will help you obtain employment in a public school setting. 

School Social Worker Requirements

To fulfill social work education requirements, you will need a bachelor’s degree in the field to begin your career. You will likely also need a social work certification like the Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS). This certification informs prospective employers that you are trained to work in a broad array of school settings. 

As the field of school social work becomes saturated with talented candidates, you may find that you need a master’s degree in social work to differentiate yourself from other job seekers. 

Make sure to verify the requirements for your state so you can enroll in the appropriate degree program. Some states allow social workers to complete one of several programs whereas other jurisdictions require a specific major.

Social Worker Skills

In addition to obtaining the right degree and certification, you will also need to acquire a diverse range of skills to succeed as a school social worker. A few must-have skills include the following:

  • Empathy
  • Effective verbal communication
  • Strong written communication
  • Data collection
  • Collaboration
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Time management
  • Multi-tasking abilities

Cumulatively, these skills will help you communicate with students, collaborate with faculty, document your findings, and connect with pupils in an impactful way. 

School Social Worker Salary

A social worker in a school’s salary will vary greatly based on several factors, including location, experience, and education.

To get a gauge of salaries in your area, consider exploring current job listings. These listings should include a salary range as well as a list of requirements. Reviewing a few postings will help you ascertain your earning potential as a school social worker.

Social Worker Job Outlook

The social work job outlook is quite positive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field is projected to grow by 9% between 2021 and 2031. That translates to approximately 64,000 new jobs nationwide. 

Pursuing a Career in School Social Work

As you can see, there are plenty of school social worker jobs available and there will be for years to come. If you are interested in a career in social work, the first step is to obtain the right education and certifications. Then you can become a part of this rewarding profession. 

Now that you know how to become a school social worker, it’s time to start your journey. If you already meet the requisite educational requirements and are interested in landing a job as a social worker, Sunbelt can help you explore openings and apply for open roles. Browse current listings or contact our team for one-on-one support.

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