New graduates are finding that there are all types of jobs you can get with a BSW.
“There’s a common misconception that the only viable careers with a social work degree are in government service,” says La Sierra University social work professor Jill Rasmussen. “The actual range of jobs you can get with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is much broader than that.”
La Sierra’s Department of Social Work helps students explore the full spectrum of social work careers. The department arranges senior-year internship placements for everyone seeking a social work bachelor’s degree, and the employers that contact La Sierra offering internships are incredibly diverse.
“You can explore a huge array of jobs with a BSW,” Rasmussen says. “For example, social work careers in health care are growing. You can find jobs in mental health clinics, nursing homes, home health care teams, maybe even schools. Another example is the trend toward parenting enrichment programs within public schools, where social workers coach new parents to create home environments that support education.”
The field of criminal justice also offers potential jobs for social work majors, Rasmussen says. So do the nonprofit and higher education sectors.
“One of the strengths of a bachelor’s degree in social work is that it educates you as a generalist,” she adds. “So it’s perfect for work that involves collaboration among professionals from various fields.”
That’s good news for everyone seeking to start their careers with a BSW.
Internship Experience Has Huge Value in the Social Work Job Market
At La Sierra, students can start exploring career possibilities while they’re still earning their social work degrees. The process starts during junior year, when social work majors interview for their senior-year internship placements.
“Every student does at least two interviews,” Rasmussen says, “and we work hard to find opportunities that fit each student’s career interests.” The internships themselves include 14 hours of hands-on field experience each week, totaling about 420 hours by the end of senior year.
“They have some amazing experiences,” Rasmussen observes, “and they often serve as a direct springboard to students’ first jobs in social work.”
Here’s how a few of La Sierra’s recent BSW graduates describe their internships:
- “The skills I acquired made me a competitive candidate while applying for jobs and gave me confidence in the interview process. I’m particularly thankful for the field experience and everything that came with it, even the stress.” — Melanie McKay, San Bernardino County Health Homes Program
- “I got an amazing foundation to build on, especially through the field practicum. I owe a big thank you to my professors. Thanks to them, I really knew my stuff !” — Maria Hunt, MSW candidate at the University of Southern California
- “I don’t think I would be successful in any way without all the guidance the social work department at La Sierra gave me. I’m putting into practice everything I learned at La Sierra. It makes me truly grateful.” — Vanessa Barragan, Riverside County Children’s Services Division
The keys to finding strong careers with a BSW, says Rasmussen, are to stay flexible and continue learning once you enter the workforce.
“You need to be change-oriented,” she says. “Look for ways to make things a little bit better, little problems to solve. Focus on helping people take small steps, because they add up to big changes.”