There’s never been a better time to enter the social work profession. With marginalized and vulnerable populations needing support around the world, the social work profession is better equipped than any other to help them. And now, governments everywhere are stepping up and taking notice of the gifts social workers bring.
Currently, social work is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Work jobs are expected to grow 16% through 2026, significantly faster than the average 7% growth throughout all occupations in the US. While the most jobs continue to be available in children and family social services, positions for medical, substance abuse, and mental health social workers will also grow.
There’s lots of need for social workers throughout the US, but social work is also growing as a profession across the globe, especially in traditionally underserved regions and communities throughout the world. According to research, when these governments hire social workers to help, clients benefit individually, and governments also see financial rewards.
When I was in my first semester of social work graduate school, one of my professors gave a lecture on international social work. In it, he included powerful stories of social worker alums from my program doing social work abroad on macro and micro levels. Before hearing this talk, I hadn’t thought about practicing outside of the United States, but I was inspired.
That summer, I signed up for a program that introduced social workers to the profession in Costa Rica. In the mornings, we took Spanish classes to improve our ability to communicate with locals, and in the afternoons we went around the area, getting a first hand view of what social workers did. While Costa Rica is growing economically, 38% of its residents continue to live in poverty. Social workers are especially integral to supporting families and the medically frail in Costa Rica.
After my time in Costa Rica, I was inspired to read in The Guardian (article available here) about how Costa Rica’s new social work initiative is improving the country. Suggested by social workers, Puente al Desarrollo (translated to A Bridge to Development) is a systemic approach that uses macro government solutions to address the challenges Costa Ricans face. The unique approach involves helping communities come up with their own programs to solve local needs, improving education, and job creation.
If you’re looking to help in Costa Rica or other international communities, many countries welcome international social workers with skills that include a social work degree, work experience, and ability to speak the local language. It’s even easier to obtain a work visa if you agree to work in an underserved, often rural part of the country. For those social workers unable to move abroad, check in with foreign social service initiatives and find out what kind of macro level work you can do without needing to travel.
Are you ready to answer the call to be part of the social work profession? When it comes to exam preparation and continuing education credits, AATBS is committed to being your partner in launching your career and excelling professionally. Let us know how we can help.