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Career Development

How to Make a Career Change from Social Work to Working in Tech

General Assembly
June 14, 2023

The tech industry is projected to grow by almost 8% in 2023, that’s a total projected worth of $4.6 trillion. Whereas the social work industry is projected to grow by only 2% this year. 

If you’re reading this, you’re considering a career switch to a tech role. The long unpredicted hours and poor salary may be what’s driving you away from social work. Although it may be a personally rewarding job, a tech role has much more to offer. 

From higher salaries, career growth opportunities around every corner, and the long-term benefits of having tech skills in a digital-first workforce. These are just some of the few advantages that a career in tech has to offer. 

Switching to a tech role might be the best thing you do in 2023. Keep reading to learn how you can make the switch today. 

Common career paths for social workers in tech

A recent survey by Social Work News has found that two-thirds of social workers are thinking about leaving their jobs. In the wake of being fed up with their current working conditions, the market is looking golden for tech workers. Let’s take a look at various well-suited tech roles for social workers looking to make the switch. 

  1. UX Design:

What the job entails: UX (User Experience) design is a multidisciplinary field focused on creating meaningful and satisfying experiences for users when interacting with products, services, or systems. The goal of UX design is to enhance user satisfaction, improve usability, and ultimately drive positive user interactions.

Transferable skills spotlight: 

  • Communication skills from social work can be beneficial for understanding user needs, conducting user research, and effectively communicating design solutions to cross-functional teams.
  • Empathy acquired in social work can help in understanding user perspectives, identifying pain points, and designing solutions that address user needs.
  • Problem-solving skills can be utilized to analyze user feedback, identify usability issues, and iterate on designs to improve user experience.
  1. Product Management/Programming:

What the job entails: Product Management involves overseeing the development and lifecycle of a digital product or service. They are responsible for ensuring that the product meets the needs of the users, aligns with the company’s goals, and delivers value to the market.

Transferable skills spotlight: 

  • Communication skills can be valuable in gathering requirements from stakeholders, translating user needs into product features, and effectively collaborating with development teams.
  • Empathy acquired in social work can aid in understanding user motivations, anticipating user behavior, and designing products that meet their needs.
  • Problem-solving skills can be utilized to identify market opportunities, analyze user feedback, prioritize features, and make data-driven decisions.
  1. Data Analysis/Science:

What the job entails: the role of a data scientist/analyst involves leveraging data to extract meaningful insights and drive informed decision-making. Data scientists/analysts utilize their expertise in statistical analysis, machine learning, and data visualization to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations within large datasets. 

Transferable skills spotlight:

  • Communication skills can be helpful in understanding data requirements, effectively communicating findings to stakeholders, and presenting data-driven recommendations.
  • Empathy acquired in social work can contribute to understanding the context behind data, recognizing biases, and considering the impact of data-driven decisions on different user groups.
  • Problem-solving skills can be used to identify trends, patterns, and correlations in data, as well as to develop strategies for improving outcomes based on data insights.

How social workers can make the transition to a tech role

The transferable skills from social work can provide a solid foundation for success. However,  it’s worth noting that you may need to acquire additional technical skills or knowledge to excel in these roles. 

At General Assembly we provide personalized career coaching to help individuals navigate their career transition and identify the best path forward. Our career coaches offer guidance on setting career goals, building a professional brand, and networking strategies. Additionally, we offer a diverse selection of tech courses and programs that cater to various skill levels and interests. 

By enrolling in one of our bootcamps, individuals gain access to practical, hands-on learning experiences that equip them with relevant skills sought after by employers.

Other tips to help you make the switch…

  1. Building a professional network

Social workers can start building a professional network by attending events, joining online communities, and connecting with professionals already working in the field. Networking provides opportunities to learn about different roles, gain insights into the industry, and establish relationships with individuals who can offer guidance and potential job referrals. 

Participating in tech-related meetups, conferences, and workshops can help social workers expand their network and stay updated on industry trends. For networking, it’s important to leverage tools like LinkedIn, UpWork, Telegram, and Discord. 

  1. Gaining new skills

Acquiring new tech skills is crucial for transitioning into a tech career. Social workers can consider enrolling in relevant courses, bootcamps, or online learning to gain foundational knowledge in areas such as coding, data analysis, UX design, project management, or software engineering. Building a strong technical skill set enhances your chances of securing tech roles.

  1. Finding job opportunities

When searching for job opportunities in tech, social workers can utilize various resources. Online job boards like Glassdoor, industry-specific websites, and social media platforms like LinkedIn can be excellent sources for finding tech-related roles. Additionally, networking with professionals in the field can provide leads on job openings that may not be publicly advertised. Social workers can also consider reaching out to recruitment agencies or attending career fairs focused on tech to explore potential opportunities. Tailoring their resumes and cover letters to highlight relevant skills and experiences is essential when applying for tech roles.

  1. Gaining practical experience

Engaging in internships, freelance projects, or volunteering in tech-related initiatives can significantly enhance your transition into a tech career. These opportunities provide valuable hands-on experience and exposure to real-world tech projects, allowing social workers to apply their existing skills and learn new ones in a practical setting. 

Internships enable you to work closely with professionals in the tech industry, gain insights into industry practices, and build a network of contacts. Freelance projects allow you to develop a portfolio showcasing your tech skills and demonstrate your ability to deliver tangible results. Volunteering in tech-related initiatives not only allows you to contribute your expertise to meaningful projects but also provides opportunities to collaborate with tech professionals and expand your professional network. These experiences not only enhance technical proficiency but also demonstrate a genuine passion for and commitment to the tech field, making social workers more competitive candidates for tech roles.

Discover your tech career path with GA

Making the switch to a tech role in 2023 opens up exciting possibilities for social workers to make a positive impact and embark on a fulfilling career in a rapidly growing field. Making the first step is always the scariest, but with resources like General Assembly, you can rest assured you will receive the support and advice you need to make your career change a success. 

If you’re ready to start your career switch, contact us today for tailored advice.

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