The importance of social workers to those they serve cannot be denied. Social workers touch the lives of many and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it is a job that continues to see an increase in need throughout the next few decades.
Social Workers Are Needed In The Future
- Need growing at 19% (faster than average) into 2022
- Employment growth will grow due to increased need in the healthcare areas but will be solidified by choosing specialty areas to serve (elderly, disabled, etc.)
- Median Income as of 2012 for social workers was $44k
- Work Environment can vary depending upon your specialty, local needs, and your desire to work within a brick & mortar job or job that takes you out into the public (often to the homes of those in needs)
- Job Hours can vary but are generally full-time and often involve working weekends, evenings, and holidays but as demands for those qualified increase this has the opportunity to also increase pay
What type of person chooses social work?
Those who tend to enjoy being social workers also enjoy working with people and, even more so, helping those who can’t always help themselves. While it can be a demanding job it also tends to be a very rewarding one as you will generally get to witness the rewards of your hard work in the end.
Because of the increasing needs in healthcare and the growing number of baby boomers who are now just into their 50’s and older, social workers will find that their expertise will be needed as boomers age into the years when they can no longer do everything on their own. Social workers enjoy feeling as though they’ve made a difference in the life of those they help & often get to enjoy seeing the difference they’ve made.
What will drive the need for social workers even more as baby boomers age & healthcare changes?
- Changing Laws – As we see a change in demographics & finances available for funding we will see a change in current laws that may well be focused on funding for senior and disabled programs. Being aware of these changes & their effects will be imperative for social workers as they help clients.
- Fewer Trained/Qualified Social Workers – Those who realize the need for an increase of qualified social workers will be at the head of the pack. Seizing the opportunity now will put you in position for having control over where your career takes you.
- Outdated & Updated Programs – As times changes so do the people being served; a perfect example is that while we will always have seniors in poor health, we are finding that more and more people in their 50’s are nothing like their counterparts from generations ago at the same age. As people age and their needs change compared to those in the past, programs will become outdated & need the input of healthcare and social workers to help with such demands as increased early onset dementia patients, increased needs for at home caregiving instead of trying to find housing in an already taxed senior housing situation, and changing needs in the healthcare system as a whole.
Basically it comes down to dealing with a large number of people such as the baby boomers who will be in need of help from those who are younger and more able. While some statistics may point towards baby boomers no longer being the typical elderly; they also point to having many new health issues to deal with such as an increasing number of cancer diagnoses, increasingly younger early onset dementia affecting those in their 30’s & 40’s and so on.
This means that there is no question that having enough people working in the healthcare field and in particular as social workers who can help speak for and find help for those who need guidance is going to increase. As we see fewer full time nursing care facilities available we’re going to see an increased need for in-home healthcare services, caregiving services in the home and social workers to help keep it all working like a well oiled machine.
Statistics Citations include:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (visited March 16, 2015).
Photo by VinothChandar