Social workers perform their duties to help various people with different problems they are facing.
Therefore, they may often face agitating situations and have to deal with personal and social causes of the problems clients have.
In the following description below, we will cover the information about the social worker’s job including duties, skills, training required for the job, and more.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Social Worker Do
Social workers help families and individuals to handle and overcome hard situations they may be facing.
Because of that, they deal with such situations as juvenile crime or neglects, troubled families, elder or child abuse, poverty, etc.
Social workers may also deal with emotional, behavioral, or mental issues as well as practice advocacy depending on their qualifications and certification.
- Recognize people facing such challenges as poverty, family dysfunction, behavioral problems, or homelessness.
- Assist people with or refer them to acquiring such services as food stamps, counseling, medical assistance, disability or other benefits.
- Provide counseling to people adjusting to difficult life situations such as unemployment, divorce, or death in the family.
- Investigate and respond to the abuse incidents, suicide attempts, or other episodes of mental breakdown.
- Participate in legal procedures related to juvenile crime or neglect, elder or child abuse, truancy, adoption, or initiate such proceedings.
- Evaluate the strength, environment, challenges, and resources of clients to plan the achievement of goals.
- Assess how successful the programs and services offered to clients are.
- Conduct psychotherapy.
- Advocate for social change and policies in areas related to social services.
Empathy and communication:
Social workers should understand and address issues, so they need to listen, ask investigating questions, and be compassionate to families and clients.
A vast part of the social worker’s job is dealing with people with emotional and other problems and handling crises.
The situations or behavior of clients can take time to improve.
Social workers should know how to manage the stress of difficult circumstances or environments.
Social workers should keep all the advice and reports recorded accurately.
Many important details can come from site visits and interviews to determine people’s environment, problems, potential dangers, or progress in the rehabilitation process.
Social workers should refer to previous records and notes quite often.
Social workers deal with the significant workload and each case has unique issues and scenarios.
Applying their organizational skills, social workers also schedule appointments and appearances in court or administrative agencies.
They also have to keep contacts for clients, hospitals, law enforcement, and other agencies.
Social workers must be able to analyze the causes of problems.
While finding the solution, they need to apply their knowledge of resources or program regulations.
When emergencies occur, social workers need to come up with decisions quickly and execute them to solve challenging situations.
How to Become a Social Worker
The minimal educational requirement for social workers includes at least a bachelor’s degree.
Depending on the level of certification they seek, they may need additional experience and education.
If you are after a general or specialist practice you have to take a master’s program and undergo training.
Training and Qualifications
Commonly, social workers hold a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Some employers may require a bachelor’s degree in sociology or psychology.
While holding a bachelor’s degree, a social worker can get a position of a caseworker, an assistant, or another entry-level job.
Social workers usually need to be certified or licensed.
The requirements can be divided by different levels and vary from state to state.
Typical categories include Bachelor’s, Masters of Social Work without post-graduate experience, Clinical, and Advances Generalist.
Advanced Generalists’ work combines policy and social principles.
Multiple social workers of this level work in rural areas, where, unlike urban areas, the resources may be limited.
Clinical social workers specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral, emotional, and mental issues.
To become a clinical social worker or the Advanced Generalist, one must hold a master’s degree.
These workers aren’t required to hold a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, but they should take such classes as sociology, politics, and economics.
The experience required for the job usually depends on the sought certification or license type.
Regardless, undergraduates have to take the internship program or other work under supervision.
Master’s program students can complete internships or practice supervised by licensed social workers.
After the master’s program, social workers pursuing clinical certification usually have to practice in a clinical setting under supervision.
Advanced Generalist practice for two years supervised by a licensed Advanced Generalist.
The typical schedule of social workers is full-time.
Social workers in schools, clinics, or government agencies work standard office hours.
On the other hand, social workers at rehabilitation centers or nursing homes may have to work on the weekends or in the evenings.
They have such schedule because these facilities typically operate 24 hours a day.
The job of a social worker, especially the one working with families, children, and the elderly, includes home visits.
Besides, when out of the office, they may have to work at courts, schools, or conferences.
Social workers may have to travel a lot, especially in rural areas to complete home visits.
Job Opportunities and Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary of social workers at $57,970 as of May 2015.
Social workers in the Federal Executive Branch make the most, $72,840 per year.
Social workers operating in the federal sector can be employed by such organizations as Veterans Administration or military hospitals.
The highest number of available positions for social workers is in local governments.
According to the US BLS, one in three social workers worked for state or local governments, which doesn’t include healthcare and educational institutions.
The employment rate is projected to increase by 12%, or 74,800 more job openings, until 2024.
The employment rate of social workers in healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse areas may grow by 19%.
Due to the increased rates of drug abuse, family discord, and domestic violence, the demand for social workers will grow.
Quite often, those participating in court procedures should perform court-ordered assessment and treatment.
Even though the demand for social workers is high, employment growth in some areas may be limited due to budgetary constraints.
The social workers are the professionals portrayed as investigators, advisors, advocates, and interventionists.
They can work in a variety of settings and help people with multiple challenges.
They should understand how people’s behavior is affected by poverty, emotional and mental disorders, lack of family structure, etc.
Due to the high rates of drug abuse and domestic violence and abuse, the demand for social workers’ services will remain high and growing.
Veterans returning from various tours of duty or combat may need the help of social workers to adapt to civilian life.
The prospects of this position are quite positive, especially in rural areas with limited resources.