For many people, the most important aspect of their jobs is making a positive difference in the lives of those who need it most. For them, a career is about more than simply putting in the necessary hours and getting a salary – it is about helping people! If that sounds like you, then perhaps becoming a social worker or school psychologist is your calling. Both these professions are focused on working with people who need a helping hand.
Social work is a broad and varied field. To put it simply, social workers work with clients to overcome the problems they are facing. As a social worker, you would work in a specialized field; for example, helping individuals or couples who want to adopt a child or working with families who need government assistance. The median annual wage for a social worker is USD 44,200, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on your state and industry, this figure can fluctuate. For instance, in terms of industry, those employed by federal agencies and insurance providers make the highest salaries.
Aspiring social workers typically complete a bachelor’s degree program in social work. In addition to this, you can opt for specialization and certification programs. For instance, if you are interested in working specifically with children, a certificate in child welfare will help you develop the skills you need. Those who are passionate about making a difference at a global scale can apply for a certificate in global social work, which offers courses with global content. If you are passionate about working with the elderly, perhaps a specialization in aging is for you. Depending on your personal dreams and ambitions, you can select a specialty area. Those who want to build a career in clinical social work will require a master’s degree as well as a specified amount of clinical work experience. Apart from these educational qualifications, you will need to be licensed by the state in which you want to work.
School psychologists work with students and fulfil a range of duties: providing individual and group counseling, carrying out personality and educational assessments, determining whether students need to be placed in special needs environments, and tackling behavioral issues among students. If you want to be a school psychologist, you must be comfortable interacting with young people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a school psychologist is USD 67,650 a year – a figure that varies based on state and industry. For instance, Rhode Island, New York, and California offer the highest compensation among US states.
If you want to become a school psychologist, you need to meet a number of educational requirements. The first step after high school entails completing a bachelor’s degree program in field such as psychology or education. Your curriculum should include relevant courses like abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, and statistics. After this comes a master’s or education specialist degree program. It is best to opt for a program that is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). These graduate-level programs typically last three years and the curriculum will likely cover cognitive assessment, research methods, psychopathology, and counseling and intervention techniques. In the final year, students take on a full-time internship of approximately 1,200 hours of which about half need to be in a school setting. In order to practice, you must be licensed by the state; many states automatically grant you a license if you have already earned the NASP credential. Those who want to enter the field of research and academia may pursue a doctoral degree.