Child Welfare Counselor Careers in Criminology

When it comes to criminology careers, it's hard to think of any that are more important than that of child welfare counselor. In fact, it's hard to think of a career in any field that's more important. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society, and how we treat them says a lot about what kind of nation we are. Child welfare counselors deal with the most vulnerable children of all. They work with children from abusive homes, abandoned or neglected children, children left without a parent because of incarceration, and so on.

How do you qualify for a child welfare counselor career? Generally speaking, in most cases, you need at a very minimum a bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology, or social work. A master's degree is ideal, but many people are so eager to begin helping children that they take an entry-level job based on their bachelor's degrees and then go on to earn their master's degrees. This usually qualifies them for promotions and pay raises, and many agencies help with the cost of tuition.

Most child welfare counselors work for local and state governments, and some are primarily office based, while others are out of the office much of the time, actively investigating the living conditions and other life aspects of the children they've been assigned to help.

This can be a tough career to handle emotionally. You'll need compassion and empathy, but you'll also need a tough exterior. Living conditions in some of the homes you run across will shock and disgust you, and you'll work your heart out for the children's sake. Often, children are returned to homes after the parents have “changed,” only to be back in the same situation later, as their parents revert to their old habits.

It can be heartrending and devastating to see how cruel some human beings can be to their own offspring, so this job requires the ability to emotionally separate yourself from the outcomes of your efforts. On the other hand, you'll be the difference between life and death for many kids, rescuing them from terrible conditions and helping them have bright futures. Nothing can ever take that away from you.

With a bachelor's degree, a child welfare counselor can expect to earn somewhere between $25,000 and $40,000 per year. Some earn more, depending on seniority and location. Entry-level jobs will naturally be on the lower end of the scale. Earning a master's degree and qualifying for the title of licensed clinical social worker is a good way to increase one's income in this field.

Department of Labor projections are that demand for child welfare counselors will remain strong for the foreseeable future, and salaries should keep pace with inflation.

Last Updated: 06/03/2014

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