Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is an undergraduate program for students who wish to pursue careers in social welfare. Also referred to as B.A. (SW) which stands for Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, the duration of this course is 3 years. The major advantage of this degree is that it enables a graduate to get a job right after the course of three years. In addition to this, if an individual wishes to continue his or her education in this field, having a Bachelors degree provides a cutting edge in contrast to students who opt for Social Welfare in their Masters level after completing their Bachelors degree in another Arts course or something similar. The course enables the individual to work for the community by helping people suffering from poverty, homelessness, violence and various diseases like AIDS, cancer, and leprosy; among many others. This degree is most suitable for people who wish to be change makers by putting their skills into play and thus helping the repressed and underprivileged.
Eligibility for College Admissions:
- 10 + 2 or its equivalent from a Government recognized board.
- Students with a background in psychology, social work, sociology or any related field get an added preference.
- Some institutes may conduct a written test followed by a personal interview for admission.
Each state has the privilege of setting the scope of practice for social workers at different steps on the career ladder. Baccalaureate social workers often do case management and intake and connect individuals with resources in their community. Although it doesn’t prepare graduates to become clinical social workers, which requires licensure, experience and a master’s degree, a BSW program prepares graduates for a variety of entry-level social work careers. Through field experience and coursework in psychology, sociology, social work practice and research methods, BSW graduates gain the skills needed to work as child, family and school social workers; mental health and substance abuse social workers; and healthcare social workers. Social workers have a variety of fields to choose from, which eventually decides the course of their career. Social workers are of the following types:
- Child, Family and School Social Worker – This field addresses issues related to adoption, foster care, pregnancy, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and stress and homelessness. Those who work in this field may also conduct workshops on many topics, including how to resolve conflicts. Employment is often found at schools and individual and family services agencies, as well as state or local government agencies.
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – Substance abuse and mental health social workers provide therapy, rehabilitation and intervention for the mentally ill and those with substance abuse problems. They may also help individuals make a smooth transition back into the community, provide employee assistance and offer counseling services to the family members of clients they’ve treated. These individuals tend to work at both inpatient and outpatient facilities.
- Healthcare Social Worker – Healthcare social workers provide psycho-social support to the terminally ill, counsel patients and caregivers and coordinate at-home care services. Some may specialize in a particular area, such as gerontological services. Healthcare social workers typically work at hospitals, individual or family services agencies, nursing homes or local government agencies.
Certain alternative careers that involve human services or require excellent communication skills appeal to social workers because of their extensive training in these areas. The prospects are in abundance and include jobs both in the public and private sector. One can easily get into Counseling (school and college level), correctional homes, and working with juvenile delinquents, governance and policy making, child and family policy planning, labor welfare, NGOs, research and teaching. Chelsea Scolt, a student pursuing her Masters in Social Work from IISWBM, Kolkata specializes in correctional and labor welfare and says, “In India, social welfare is a relatively new concept. It is very up coming and is yet to get the eminence that it should. Keeping that in mind, however, most companies have a human resource department and one for corporate social responsibilities (CSRs) and need people having a background in social work. There are companies like the Times of India whose CSR initiative is called Teach India. In the same way, the Tata’s have their own. So generally, in these departments, people from social work can get in but it all boils down to how good they are at their work.”
The duties of a social worker often include:
- They help the others who need help.
- They help their clients to come up with their problems and worst situations.
- They handle the situation arises such as child abuse and mental health emergencies.
- Provide psychotherapy services.
- Social workers help others cope with the challenges of their lives.
- Social workers help the disable children, and people with serious illness and addictions.
- Some social workers work with groups, community organizations, and policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions.
It might sound like a bumpy ride at first, but with patience and the right amount of effort, one can easily flourish in this field. Organizations like UNESCO and CRY provide opportunities to students on a national and international front. Monetary gains quite surely go hand in hand but at the same time, this course is well suited for those who value the emotional gains derived from this field. A large number of Indian students have also migrated to foreign universities after completing their degrees in BSW and MSW.
Acclaimed Colleges in India include:
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai
- Mumbai and Delhi School of Social Work
- Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
- Bharatidasan University, Tiruchirappalli
- IGNOU, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi
- Osmania University, Hyderabad
- IISWBM, Kolkata
- Madras School of Social Work, Chennai
- Loyola College of Social Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram
Acclaimed Colleges Abroad include:
- University of Texas, Austin
- University of Wisconsin – Madison
- New York University, Silver School of Social Work
- University of Pittsburgh
- Fordham University, New York
Suryakant Narvekar, Smile Foundation’s regional director (West), Response, differs and believes that the field of social work is performance-oriented and one needs to prove himself first before demanding a good salary. “If one is truly passionate about his work and has the potential, sky is the limit in this profession. The sector might not have corporate-like pay scales but holds scope for personal growth. One just needs to prove that he is here to stay and be proactive. Making money won’t be a problem then,” he says.
- The author of this post, Eva R Sachdeva is a blogger for IOS Marketing and writes extensively on Education Technology and news.
- Chelsea Scolt, MSW in Correctional and Labor Welfare, IISWBM, Kolkata
- Aaron Claudius, former teacher at Little Hearts School, Garia, Kolkata