Unemployment, poverty, homelessness and drug problems: If you fall through the social grid, it is difficult. Those affected are marginalized from society and can often no longer change their situation on their own. That’s where social workers intervene.
Duties of social workers
Social workers try to help people solve their problems . This help can take many different forms. Some social workers are out on the streets, handing out food to the homeless or trying to help drug addicts with withdrawal. Others place neglected children in foster families or try to reintegrate the unemployed into the labor market. Social workers can also work with prisoners, young people and the elderly.
Social work as a subject
According to Mcat-Test-Centers.com, the study of social work prepares the students comprehensively for their future professional activity. In Germany, it is mainly offered at universities of applied sciences , which are characterized by relatively practice-oriented courses. Even universities offer the study Social Work. Unlike at the FH, the formerly separate courses of study social work and social pedagogy are under the subject term social work summarized. However, the focus of social education is on educating people, not so much on helping. If you want to study at a university, you should therefore take a very close look at the study program and determine whether the specializations offered correspond to your own professional ideas. The name of the first degree can then be “BA Social Worker” or “BA Social Worker / Social Pedagogue”, depending on the chosen course in the area of social work.
Bachelor’s degree in social work
In the bachelor’s degree , students are first introduced to the theories and methods of social work. you
- learn everything about the history of the subject
- ask about the role of social workers
- analyze social developments and problem areas
- learn to compile statistics yourself.
In addition, subjects such as pedagogy, sociology , psychology , economics and law are also on the curriculum. Seminars on self-perception and perception of others, on rhetoric or conflict management serve to develop one’s own personality. In addition, the students learn to deal with information technology . In the higher semesters they then have the opportunity to specialize in a field of social work. This can be, for example, youth work, family support, health care or addiction and dependency. Internships or internship semesters in social institutions or at the authorities round off the course. They give students the opportunity to put their theoretical knowledge to the test.
In some federal states, graduates have to complete a year of recognition after completing their bachelor’s degree in order to be allowed to use the professional title of social worker. In other federal states, you can start your career straight away with a Bachelor’s degree.
Master’s degree in social work
Many still decide to take on a master’s degree , as this qualifies them for better-paid managerial positions . In the master’s degree programs, students have the opportunity to specialize even further, for example in working with migrants or the mentally ill. Master’s courses with a business focus are also popular, for example social management.
Requirements for studying social work
Social workers should be able to identify with their work in order to be able to cope with the later stresses of their job. In addition to the desire to help people, a stable psychological constitution , communication skills and resistance to stress are required in professional life . For the course you should be interested in social science subjects and in educational and medical content. Good knowledge of English is also desirable, as some of the specialist literature is only available in English.
Occupational fields for social workers
Depending on the focus of the course and practical experience, the areas of activity for social workers are very different . In child and youth work, for example, they work in youth centers, day nurseries, mother-child homes or assisted living communities. As street workers, you are out on the streets and work with the homeless and drug addicts. But they can also prepare prisoners for their reintegration into society or look after mentally ill people. Other areas of work are family support, disabled people support, addiction support and school social work.
The main employers for social workers are:
- municipal institutions such as youth or social welfare offices
- church institutions such as Caritas
- institutions of voluntary welfare such as the German Red Cross
Landscape associations, private and public foundations, health care institutions and non-profit organizations also employ social workers. After several years of working directly with those affected, many switch to the management and administration of these facilities. With a master’s degree, there is also the possibility of doing a doctorate and doing university research and teaching. Employment in adult education is also possible.
Reasons for studying social work abroad
One or more semesters abroad give future social workers the opportunity to gain many additional qualifications. On the one hand, they can enrich their academic profile by learning other course content. On the other hand, they improve their foreign language skills. In addition, they acquire intercultural competencies and soft skills , which are of decisive importance for their later work. This includes, for example, the ability to communicate across cultural differences or to make contacts in a short period of time.