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Social Work Jobs in Canada


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Hi everyone, I would greatly appreciate any input on the topic of jobs after graduating with BSW or an MSW in Canada. I am currently completing my BA in psych at York U in Toronto and next year I will be applying to a one year BSW and a 2 year MSW program. If I don't get into the MSW off the bat hopefully I'll complete the one year BSW and then I can apply to a lot more one year MSW programs.

What do you think my job prospects will be with just the BSW? Will there be a lot of prospects (with volunteer and placement experience as well) or will it be hard to land entry level positions? I'm looking for recent BSW grads in Ontario (especially the Toronto area) and their feedback on finding jobs after graduating and what position they now hold. I feel that it might be difficult to land a position with an MSW if I go on to complete an MSW right away with no real work experience. What about MSW graduates? Did you find it hard to find work?

I was thinking the best route might be the one year BSW and work right away, while completing and MSW part-time, so I am gaining experience and in a couple of years I'll be able to find a better position with better pay. I'm afraid that I'll do all of this schooling and I won't be able to find a job at all!

35,000 a year is a fine starting wage for me, so pay doesn't really matter. I just want enough to live comfortable and to attempt to pay off student loans quickly. I believe it's more like 40,000 and up with some experience anyhow.

If I can't find a job in social work after a certain amount of time my backup is to go into recreation therapy with geriatrics (so activation co-ordinator), and the jobs there seem abundant and they start at a decent wage. With my BA in psych, I could complete that diploma in a years time. I could also do a one 6 month diploma in ABA therapy and work with autistic kids and then apply for my masters in behavioural therapy that I can do part-time.

Anyone who applied to the one year BSW at Lakehead (orillia) campus, I welcome your input too!

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  • 2 weeks later...


I need to start off by saying that I graduated years ago with my BSW so I cant really say what the job prospects are like right now. But I would like to share my observations. I have seen a lot of MSW's without PAID work experience having difficulty landing the high end positions. For those, employers always like experience--and to tell you the truth, many MSW's just dont have the deep knowledge base that you can only acquire from being out in the field for a while. Believe me, for some jobs you would be better off working up to the position than getting it right off the bat.

But in the organizations I've worked at, we've hired MSW's for BSW positions and they've gotten the chance to get their feet wet before moving on to higher paying positions. We've also hired placement students for contract work once they have completed their placement. There is definitely a benefit to having an MSW. With a BSW, you can only go so far before the only movement you can make is lateral. RIght now 35k might sound good but after a while in the field you will come to realize that it is not enough for the job you do.

But having said that, I think it would be easier for you to find a position with a BSW than an MSW. Social work is one of those areas that jobs are always available--the more flexible you are (for part time work, overnight, shift work, etc), the easier it will be for you to land a position.

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Thanks so much espresso shot. I appreciate all of your insights. I can see how you'd be right about an MSW and lack of work experience. I agree that 35,000 is probably not enough for what a social work does, but I'm mainly looking for work that I will look forward to, that will challenge me and that I will find rewarding. There is always a chance for an increase in salary, but I'm the type that needs to enjoy doing whatever it is I do, or I am miserable. I have done nannying for quite a few years and although it is great experience with kids, I look forward to transitioning into my new line of work after schooling!

What type of work do you do with your BSW? Do you find that it is like you thought it would be?

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Yes, I agree that you need to enjoy what you are doing no matter what the pay. Personally, I dont think there is much difference between frontline work whether you have a BSW or an MSW. The difference comes in when you are looking to climb the employment ladder or are looking to increase your pay. For instance, it is rare to find a job in the hospital or government sectors that willl accept a BSW, an MSW requirement is pretty much standard.

When you say that there is always a chance to increase your salary--that is true but again, with a BSW you will hit a ceiling.

In a nutshell, what I'm trying to say is that (in my opinion) frontline work is the same for BSW or MSW. The difference comes in if your career aspirations are in a managerial/government/hospital areas. For those, you will need an MSW. With a BSW, your movement will mostly be lateral and this may be a problem for you down the road when you are looking to advance your skills and experience.

I've been doing community work (mostly in the health and social services sector) for a long time and really enjoy it. Where I ended up in this field is very different than from where I started. Basically, I wanted to work with kids but ended up working with older adults! It is a very rewarding field and you are always learning. Really, it is nothing like what I thought it would be, but in retrospect I dont think I really *knew* what I wanted from Social Work, basically, I just wanted to 'help people' and learned what I needed to know along the way.

What draws you to social work? Do you know what area you'd like to work in?

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