How Do I Become a Social Services Director?
Social services directors are social workers who have advanced to managerial positions. Their duties include organizing social services programs and overseeing related elements, such as budgets and policies, as well as supervising social workers and others. The way to become a social services director begins with an undergraduate degree in social work or a related field and continues with earning a license along with several years of experience in a specific area of social work. A postgraduate degree plus experience typically are required to move into a director’s role, but some positions accept candidates with many years of experience even if they do not possess an advanced degree.
During the undergraduate years, a student who wishes to eventually become a social services director can focus on broad course work in human services, psychology, and sociology, as well as social work. Courses in these areas help a prospective social worker prepare for a licensing exam and a first job. With a degree in hand, a new social worker must prepare for and pass an examination to earn the ability to practice social work locally.
With a license under his or her belt, a new social worker with hopes of future advancement must secure a first job in an area of interest. While social workers can be found in a variety of sectors, many are employed in health-care settings, where they counsel patients regarding illnesses, at-home care, and other services. Some social workers work in clinics that serve children and families and focus on issues such as adoption, neglect, and foster care, while others work in schools. Still other social workers specialize in elder care and helping families manage the aging process.
Once a new social worker has settled into a position, he or she should learn as much as possible about the field and how public policy affects the services his or her clients receive. This knowledge helps a social worker gain the experience needed to eventually become a social services director. Joining professional organizations also helps fill out the resume of someone who wants to become a social services director.
When seeking a promotion to a social services director position, a social worker must note how much experience is required by a prospective employer. Many employers look for at least two years of experience in a specific area, such as health care or family social work. Other employers expect applicants to have a postgraduate degree in social work. This degree builds on a basic social work education with course work in services management and policy analysis.
In addition to client experience and an advanced degree, a candidate who wants to become a social services director should have some administrative experience. While working in a first or second job, a social worker can volunteer for lower-level administrative activities. Working closely with a senior administrator can create valuable, on-the-job experience that will be useful when interviewing for a social services director position.
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