5 Non-Traditional Social Work Tracks
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5 Non-Traditional Social Work Tracks

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Non-traditional social work jobs are popping up in all different fields as businesses and communities are seeing the value in the skills social workers posses. These non-traditional social work gigs are just the beginning.

Research

While Social work research is not a typical path those pursuing social work degrees, it’s a perfect option for some. Instead of direct client practice, this path focuses gathering and interpreting data. The work done in this area guides all social work practice and increases the legitimacy of our work through research based information. Social work was once a hunch based profession but has shifted into one of evidence-based practices. Research Social Workers create this evidence through their findings. Those in this field are also often in academia as professors. This track usually requires a doctorate degree.

Medical

Speaking from experience, Medical Social Work is booming. The federal government has several programs up and running. Primary Care First and the previous incarnation, Comprehensive Primary Care + developed as to shift the healthcare system away from the traditional fee-for-service model through payment reform. Outside of the Primary Care settings, there are the more well known avenues for social work, like hospitals, specialty care settings, and nursing homes. There are several opportunities for social workers with master’s degrees, licenses, and doctorates.

Community Social Work

This social work position focuses on advocacy and outreach to help those at the local level. Community social workers play a valuable role in communities. One example of a really unique position under this umbrella is the library-based social worker. They aim to meet those in need, at the places they frequent. Libraries are one of the last truly free spaces with no obligation to buy. For this reasons, libraries are safe space for those experiencing homelessness and those in need of supports. What better place to provide services than the places folks are already accessing? Most community social workers have a 4 year degree or higher.

Corporate Social Work

Those outside of traditional social work are just now beginning to see how versatile the skill set really is. Within the business setting, there is so much growth potential. Those in corporate social work focus on helping business with diversity and inclusion practices, policy change, grant writing, training, and groups facilitation, among other things. As a result, corporate social workers will be the catalysts for change in corporate america. Many of the postings for this type of work prefer at least a Bachelor’s but many are looking for Master’s levels or higher.

Social Work Therapist

Lastly, for those who enjoy the therapeutic side of social work, a counseling might be a track worth exploring. While most require social workers to be Licensed (LCSW or similar) in their home state, there is a lot of flexibility to this type of work. With the rise of the pandemic, many agencies are making virtual counseling more accessible. Insurance companies are covering virtual sessions with licensed mental health providers, something that was unheard of just 2 short years ago. Private Practice and simi-private practice are viable options for social work counselors. Agencies like Life Stance and Sondermind contract with therapist to do the work while they do the back end work like finding clients and billing.

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