What does a Social Worker do?

Median Pay $47,980
Growth Rate 16%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A social worker helps people solve problems and learn to cope with everyday life challenges in a variety of situations. They work with those dealing with disabilities, serious illnesses or addictions, as well as helping vulnerable children and their families. Social workers help connect those in need with the community resources available.

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How to Become a Social Worker

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Social workers are required to have a minimum of a bachelors degree in sociology or psychology; however this usually only allows them to be eligible for entry level positions. Many social workers go on to earn a Masters degree. These programs usually offer leadership and managerial skills that one does not earn at the undergraduate programs. They also include an internship in a social work field under the supervision of a licensed professional.

Many states also require social workers to get licensed or certified to practice. Check out your state’s regulations and laws at: https://www.aswb.org/ (link opens in new tab).

Job Description of a Social Worker

A social worker’s job is to identify those in need, assess their situation and develop ways to improve their lives and adjust to life’s challenges. This may include, unemployment, illness, divorce and mental disorders. A social worker would refer a client to community resources, like, health care, child care or food stamps. He or she would work with government agencies to help a person receive entitled benefits, like, medicare.

They would set up programs to protect children, such as, child abuse cases. Their job would include continuing to evaluate provided services and make any necessary changes to the program to ensure the well-being of their clients. They would follow-up on each case to determine if improvement is being made and create accurate records on each client. A social worker should have compassionate qualities, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, and be a problem solver.

Social Worker Interview

1.What does a typical day in your profession look like?

Mostly in the office, approached many times during the day by five social workers who want to discuss their clients and their case management of clients. I give advise and feedback and my own point of view and make suggestions. I record and find data I review their work. I answer phone calls from stressed clients, hoping to get some sort of assistance. I speak to people from the community about government services availability.

2. What do you enjoy most about about social work?

I enjoy the ability to assist people who are in need. I enjoy using my influence to get social workers to see things differently. I am able to form long term associations and friendships with coworkers. Good hours, decent environment, good benefits.

3. What do you find challenging about social work?

There is not a lot of creativity. It is a bit repetitive.

4. What personal characteristics do successful people in your career field possess?

They are organized, intelligent, able to empathize, and nonjudgemental. Ability to lead a team, create schedules, and hold people accountable for delivering on time with quality is also important.

5.What advice would you give others who are interested in pursuing your profession?

To get a masters in social work after they are sure they like the field and then to read and stay educated about the field.

Social Worker Career Video Transcript

In an ideal world, every family would be stable and supportive, and every child’s needs would be met. But in reality, families who live in poverty, with mental illness, chemical abuse, or other issues, may need the help of child, family, and school social workers to find their way.

An important role of these social workers is to help clients understand the range of services available to them, connect them to organizations and programs that will help them, and teach them how to advocate for themselves in the future. Good record keeping of conversations and activity is critical.

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families function more effectively. They often connect families with housing, child care, and welfare assistance. They may promote better parenting skills, coordinate adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children.

School social workers deal with problems like bullying, truancy, and teenage pregnancy, and they may also advise teachers. Some travel to multiple schools in a school district. Child, family, and school social workers work for government agencies, non-profits, school systems, and in residential facilities.

A bachelor’s degree in social work is the most common requirement to enter the field, though many also earn a master’s in social work. While the work can be emotionally taxing, child, family, and school social workers help lighten the load for struggling children and families, and give them hope for a brighter future.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers.

National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1021.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.