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Being a social worker can be a gratifying experience

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST
A Teach for India fellow helps students

In this ongoing series to educate you about the unusual careers you can choose from, here's why being a social service professional can help you better the lives of people around you

They say it is a very satisfying feeling to give something.

And if it is to those who are underprivileged, the satisfaction knows no bounds.

John Abraham sets aside time between films to do it.

Kajol was honoured by iCONGO, a confederation of NGOs and the Khemka Foundation, with a Karamveer Puruskar award for her work in the field.

And of course, you just read about our dear Sallu's (actor Salman Khan) Being Human. Well, if that is the case, why not make a profession out of it?

If you're looking for a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and an abundance of options, consider social work.

The field is always in need of people who care about others, who want to make things better, who want to relieve suffering, who want their work to make a difference.

"Social work is a profession devoted to helping people function the best they can in their environment," says Dr Mary Alphonse, Principal, College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, Mumbai.

This can mean providing direct services or therapy directly to people. It also can mean working for change to improve social conditions.

The phrase 'in their environment' points to a distinctive quality of this profession -- one that sets it apart from other helping professions.

Social workers help people deal not only with how they feel about a situation but also with what they can do about it. Many social workers work for social change as well.

What it takes to be a professional

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST
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The profession has its own body of knowledge, code of ethics, practice standards, credentials, licensing (for those who want to start something), and a system of education programmes.

These equip the professional social worker to combine the desire to help others with the knowledge, skill, and ethics needed to provide that help.

For sheer variety, few occupations can match social work, which offers the broadest range of opportunities and settings.

Social workers are found in public agencies, hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, private practices, police departments, courts, and countless other workplaces.

Social workers serve individuals, families, and communities. In the modern times of social entrepreneurship, they can be managers, supervisors, and administrators.

Education requirements

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST
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The social work courses in India are designed to produce highly trained professionals for specialised fields of work.

To get a qualification in social work, there are many options. There are certificate, diploma, and degree courses.

There is scope for work in health related, psychiatric, or anthropological fields.

With institutes like TISS offering career oriented courses the scope of building a successful career in this field looks promising.

Scope of career

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST

Job opportunities in social work vary with the kind of specialisation that a person has opted for. The jobs available in the Indian market are:

Communication skills, perseverance and enthusiasm are important

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST

You need to be a dynamic communicator with a manifold role.

You could be actively working on a variety of communication channels to raise awareness of your organisation apart from actually engaging in the activities of the organisation.

This would involve lots of responsibilities, communication with funding agencies and sponsors, and thinking of innovative promotion activities to name but a few.

Additionally, you could be proactively involved in supporting your organisation's fundraising efforts.

Skills that are needed

A deep rooted desire to work in the sector, knowing full well how unglamorous it is

Understanding of the development sector in India, particularly relating to the underprivileged

Strong communication skills across the media -- eg websites, reports, project proposals, press releases

Ability to grasp and communicate complex social issues effectively to various audiences

Ability to juggle many different tasks simultaneously

Enthusiasm and perseverance

A desire to get involved in the work of the organisation

You can earn up to Rs 25,000 a month

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST
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It is difficult to assign a definitive range to social work salaries; however, one thing is certain: demand for social workers is on the rise.

Those just starting out with a bachelor's can expect a monthly salary ranging up to Rs 10,000 depending on type of work, experience, and geographic factors.

A social worker with a master's degree can expect an income ranging to about Rs 25,000.

Scope abroad

The master's degree holds good for the international market as well.

Premier international organisations like the World Health Organisation, UNESCO, and UNICEF employ social workers in awareness campaigns and projects meant for developing countries.

Internationally recognised NGOs that employ Indian social workers also pay well.

Where to study

Last updated on: April 11, 2012 06:45 IST
Tata Institute of Social Sciences