Career Opportunities Countless Possibilities
Employment opportunities for social workers continue to be strong for the 21st century. The United States Department of Labor estimates a 33.5 percent increase in the number of social work positions needed by 2005. U.S. News and World Report identified social work as a top career choice in 1999. In fact, there is a tremendous statewide shortage of social workers that is currently being addressed by the California State Assembly. The director of the Riverside County Mental Health Department, John Ryan, reported in April 2001 that there is a 20 percent vacancy rate for social workers in his department (NASW News, April 2001).
Becoming a bachelor's level professional social worker will allow an individual to obtain a job immediately upon graduation at a starting annual salary between $32,000 and $38,000. Social workers are employed in public and private agencies and find employment in a number of settings:
- criminal justice agencies
- health agencies
- mental health services
- family service agencies
- substance abuse programs
- children and youth services
- schools (elementary and secondary)
- home care agencies
- nursing homes
- hospice services
- residential treatment programs
- vocational rehabilitation services
- income maintenance programs
- domestic violence programs
- developmental disabilities services
- legal services agencies
- child and adult day care services
- homeless shelters
- social service agencies
Over one-half of students graduating from La Sierra University in social work continue with graduate education. Students choosing graduate education were accepted into schools such as California State Universities at San Bernardino and Long Beach, University of Southern California, Loma Linda University, Walla Walla College and the University of Tennessee.
Many graduate schools in social work offer advanced standing to students who have graduated with a BSW from an accredited undergraduate social work program. Advanced standing reduces graduate study from two years to one year. Several La Sierra University students have applied and been accepted for advanced standing.