Social worker at the VA

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by ikibah, 05.15.14.

  1. SDN is made possible through member donations, sponsorships, and our volunteers. Learn about SDN's nonprofit mission.
  1. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    05.06.13
    Messages:
    151
    Hi, here's my question(s). As I've started thinking about and looking at what kind of job I want after I graduate, I realized that the VA is one of the better places to work compensation-wise, so I have a few questions concerning this route if anybody here works at the VA or has any knowledge on the matter.

    1) My school offers an internship with the VA I'd say it's pretty helpful to try to get that if possible correct?
    2) My passion is in counseling/therapy and not casework; are there social workers hired at the VA who do counseling exclusively?
    3) Does the VA higher directly out of school or does one need to be licensed? The only jobs I can find online now are for licensed lcsw's and I wonder if there are any jobs just for MSW's
    4) dependent on prior question: If they do hire msw's is there supervision provided towards becoming and lcsw-c?
    5) Many of the jobs I find have a salary range of 65k-120k. If I were to get an entry job as soon as possible, earning the 65k, how long could it potentially take to move up the ranks to the 120k?


    I know these are some elaborate and long-winded questions so I really appreciate anybody who takes the time to read this and give me whatever advice you have.

    Thanks again,

    Ikibah
     
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.26.13
    Messages:
    118
    1. An internship is a step in the right direction. I have three colleagues who were hired on at the VA after the conclusion of their internship
    2. There are clinicians who do counseling, but there is always a case management component. At my internship my primary focus will be providing psychotherapy and co facilitating groups but I will also do case management.
    3. The VA will hire recent grads but will require you to get licensed in the two year time frame
    4. Supervision does go towards your license
    5. An entry job/fresh our of grad school is a GS-9. Folks making six figures are the Chief of Social work and hold positions of that nature. Once you are licensed you will move up the GS ranks and as you move up the 'steps' you will make more

    All of my answers are from my experience working at the VA and from my extensive research. I made a very calculated career change and wanted to know what my chances were getting into the VA/ DoD. I have several friends/colleagues who have been SW'rs at the VA for a long time and I know two Chiefs of Social Work. I am sure others will chime in and give you even more in depth answers
     
    ikibah likes this.
  4. wesleysmith

    wesleysmith LLMSW 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    04.10.14
    Messages:
    218
    I don't have 1, 3, 4 or 5 for you, but my friend is a social worker at our local VA and from what he says his job is almost exclusively individual therapy at the moment. His first job there consisted of some group and on call crisis intervention work as well, but still, all face to face clinical work. So based off of N=1 vicarious experience; yes, they hire SW for counseling, however, I doubt any mental health position excludes case management entirely.
     
    ikibah and submarine1991 like this.
  5. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    05.06.13
    Messages:
    151
    Thanks to both of you; this has been very helpful!.

    Submarine. How much does a gs-9 usually make (I understand it will vary by state but any rough estimate?) Also, how many years does it usually take for one to "move up the ranks" to a six figure job.

    Again, thanks. Extremely helpful
     
  6. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.26.13
    Messages:
    118
    They start out at $41,000
     
  7. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.26.13
    Messages:
    118
    I dont know when she graduated, but one Chief of Social Work that I know started out as an intern. She is in her 40's
     
  8. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.26.13
    Messages:
    118
    You absolutely have to put in work and have some time behind you, you know?
     
  9. submarine1991

    submarine1991 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    11.26.13
    Messages:
    118
    I know how the GS system works but I am having a hard time putting it into laymen terms. I copied and pasted the below information to better explain it.

    this is how the GS system works.

    1st there has to be an open position that you can apply for. If you are new to the Civil Service system (as you indicated), you are probably looking at a GS-9 position going in (doesn't mean that you can't apply for a GS-11, 12, 13, but without civil service experience - you are going against others who have been there and done that).

    The GS-9 may have a promotable category such as GS-9/11/12. What this means is that you start as a GS-9 (probationary); however, your education and practical experience can get you anywhere from a Pay step 2 through 10 - depends on how well you do in the position interview). After one year as a GS-9, you can be promoted to GS-11, Step 1. After a year as GS-11, you can be promoted to GS-12, Step 1.
     
  10. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    05.06.13
    Messages:
    151
    Submarine, thanks a lot for this. This is crazy helpful.
     
  11. AcronymAllergy

    AcronymAllergy Neuropsychologist SDN Moderator 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    01.07.10
    Messages:
    6,615
    Status:
    Psychologist
    Verified
    Psychologist
    Positions will typically have GS levels assigned based on pre-determined credentialing standards, which vary by occupational category. Psychologists, for example, will generally start at GS-11 if they're post-internship and post-degree but have no experience beyond that. With one year of experience (after a post-doc, for example), they'd come in at GS-12; they can be unlicensed, but need to obtain a license within a set time frame after starting. And with two years' worth of experience, it's a GS-13 (license mandatory). Civil service vs. non-civil service system experience is counted fairly identically; it's just that having VA experience will likely make you a more attractive applicant. In the end, after you're hired, a credentialing committee will determine your GS level. It's most common to start at step 1, but as you've mentioned, you can potentially negotiate higher steps based on experience and training. Once you're hired, though, that's set. You then work toward additional step increases based on time of service and, when appropriate/earned, merit-based increases (e.g., board certification). There are also certain automatic grade jumps, again depending on occupational category.

    Physicians are on an entirely different pay scale, as are nurses, so essentially none of this applies to them.
     
  12. ikibah

    ikibah MSW student 2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    05.06.13
    Messages:
    151
    Thanks, this is all great information. I only recently started looking into the VA seriously so this is all extremely helpful info.
     
  13. AdamAustin

    AdamAustin

    Joined:
    04.16.13
    Messages:
    65
    Well i truly appreciate your thought process to work as social worker, as internship will give you the desired opportunity, i believe it's up to you to decide whether wants to work as a counselor or do case study. But whatever step you choose should be better for humanity.
     

About the ads

Share This Page