Social workers are the leading mental health care providers in the country. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the number of social workers needed in the US will grow by 12% until 2030, and around 78,300 job openings are predicted each year over the next 10 years.
There are more clinically trained social workers than psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and psychiatrists combined. So, if you’re looking to be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), now is the perfect time to do so.
Still, there are a few things you must understand before entering this profession. Just as we did in our article ‘7 Things to Keep in Mind When Pursuing a Nursing Career’, allow us to inform you about some of the things to understand about being an LCSW:
LCSWs have different career paths to choose from
Social workers in general already have a variety of career directions to choose from. Some common examples include child welfare, adult development, aging, and community work. While you may perceive LCSW as having limited job options because of the license, you’re mistaken.
More common career paths for LCSW include those that cater to providing diagnoses and counseling services to individuals who have mental and behavioral issues. This is often in the form of marriage and family therapists, licensed counselors, and intervention specialists. Additionally, a post on the Boston Globe even affirms that social workers are a key solution to the ongoing mental health problem in the US. Therefore, an estimated 60% of mental health services are headed by LCSWs — including those for substance abuse and prevention and interventions in communities, schools, and hospitals.
However, don’t worry about being limited to more medical paths just because you’re a clinical social worker. You can still become a general social worker, a social and community service manager, and a child welfare worker. There is a broad range of careers for LCSWs so you’ll definitely find the right one for you.
You have an opportunity to work remotely
In recent years, medical professionals have turned to telehealth to increase accessibility to their services. This way, they can provide care to patients in a virtual setting. Some of these medical professionals are LCSWs who benefit from telehealth by being able to see more patients due to the flexible nature of appointments and removing the need for travel.
This setup is also advantageous for patients, as they can receive care from the comfort of their own home and access the best experts regardless of their location. However, most virtual LCSWs can only treat patients in the state where they operate. For instance, remote LCSWs in Rhode Island are mandated by the local government to submit a specific set of requirements, such as a $130 fee for LMFT licensure and an ASWB clinical exam certificate. If you were to operate in New York, you would have to comply with their requirements. Although, it’s completely possible to provide services in multiple states as long as you have the proper documentation. This expanded patient base not only allows you to help more people, it also lets you gain more experience because you’re exposed to more patients.
You can be employed in different industries
You might think that being an LCSW will only land you jobs in clinics, hospitals, and counseling offices. The National Association of Social Workers notes that social workers are employed in various settings that require their services. This includes corporations, prisons, and private agencies.
For one, the US Department of Veterans Affairs employs 13,000 social workers for a multitude of different reasons – one of them being long-term clinical interventions. This is a job that is reserved for an LCSW because they are qualified and legally allowed to give medical advice. Half of the American Red Cross’ disaster mental health volunteers are also composed of social workers whom they train. Finally, prisons turn to LCSWs to provide treatment assessments and counseling and facilitate discussions with troubled prisoners.
Working as an LCSW is promising as it is projected to grow in the next few years. Additionally, several benefits await you when you start, such as remote working options and several career directions that can provide a very fulfilling career.
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