Career and Employment Resources
Social Work is one of the fastest growing professions, particularly in the areas of health and mental health services. As the BSW degree is generalist in nature, our graduates are prepared to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide variety of careers including child and family services, health, mental health, schools, corrections, domestic violence and services to older adults. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) reports that social workers held about 649,300 jobs, in 2014. Social workers are employed in both rural and urban areas and the national demand is expected to grow by 12% (above the national average) through 2024. People established in their career generally earn between $28,530 and $76,820 per year with the median pay for 2016 at $46,890 per year.
To prepare for careers in social work, the Social Work department has created a developmental plan to assist students throughout their education at JMU and beyond. In our Introduction to Social Work course, students create a professional resume reflecting their interests and experiences, including their service-learning volunteer placement. As they continue through the curriculum, students are encouraged to engage in campus and community activities that build leadership skills and provide experiences to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning in coursework. To support those planning to continue their education in social work at the Masters level, students attend a statewide BSW conference with a Graduate School fair that allows them to meet with representatives from at least 10 graduate programs around the nation. Between their Junior and Senior years, students are required to do a 50-hour volunteer placement in preparation for a 472-hour practicum in their final semester. Students revisit their resumes when they apply for their field practicum and again during their capstone experience, where they create an electronic portfolio suitable for sharing with an employer. During capstone, they are encouraged to register with the Handshake online career services system, which will link them to a wide array of resources, extending beyond graduation.
Cassidy Lawson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is our liaison with the Career and Academic Planning office and regularly collaborates with faculty to make sure students know the resources available to them as they move beyond the walls of the university. She makes presentations in the introductory and capstone classes, and is also available to meet individually with students to put together their resume or review cover letters to prospective employers.
Our JMU BSW graduates do very well, in both entry-level employment and acceptance into graduate school. About one third of our BSW graduates enter an MSW program immediately upon graduation with Advanced Standing, allowing them to finish their MSW in 12 months. Others go on to law school or other graduate programs in counseling or public administration. An additional third of our students enter graduate school within 2 to 5 years after receiving their BSW and are usually eligible for Advanced Standing as well. We have students participate in VISTA volunteers, City Year, Good Shepard or Brethren Volunteer Corps for a year or two to gain valuable experience to prepare for their Masters programs. An additional third practice at the BSW level throughout their careers – many are hired each year by the agency where they complete their senior practicum!