Career Development

What Does a Social Worker Do?

Find out what a social worker does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a social worker.

Social workers are responsible for helping people deal with a variety of social issues, including poverty, mental health concerns, and addiction. They commonly work with individuals, families, and groups to provide support in areas such as employment, education, healthcare, housing, and other aspects of daily life.

Social workers may also be involved in advocacy efforts on behalf of their clients. This might include working with government agencies or private organizations to help secure benefits or services that their clients need but cannot afford on their own.

Social Worker Job Duties

Social workers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing treatment plans based on assessment data and working with other members of the treatment team to carry them out
  • Conducting home visits to meet with clients in their natural environment, assess the situation, and offer counseling services as appropriate
  • Helping families solve problems and deal with crises such as illness, unemployment, substance abuse, or domestic violence
  • Interviewing clients to obtain information about their situation, needs, and available resources
  • Conducting assessments of clients’ social and emotional functioning and needs to identify appropriate support services
  • Referring clients to other community resources such as shelters or food banks when they cannot meet their needs on their own
  • Conducting intake interviews with new clients and assessing their needs to determine if they are eligible for services
  • Conducting follow-up evaluations with clients to ensure the effectiveness of services provided and make adjustments as needed
  • Providing case management services by helping clients access community resources such as housing and medical care

Social Worker Salary & Outlook

Social worker salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of social work they do. Some social workers may also receive benefits, such as health insurance or 401k plans.

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,000 ($27.88/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $85,000 ($40.87/hour)

The employment of social workers is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Social workers will be needed to help older people, who are living longer and often need help from social workers for medical or financial reasons. In addition, demand for social workers is expected to increase as more states allow social workers to practice independently across healthcare settings.

Social Worker Job Requirements

A social worker typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Social workers need at least a bachelor’s degree to work in the field. The most common majors for social workers are psychology, social work, nursing and human services.

Many social workers choose to pursue a master’s degree in social work to increase their earning potential and qualify for more advanced positions. A master’s program takes two years to complete and includes coursework and supervised practice.

Training & Experience: Social workers receive most of their training through their bachelor’s and master’s programs. During these programs, students learn about the various aspects of social work, including the following:

Social work ethics The various populations social workers serve The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients The various roles social workers can play in the field The various methods social workers can use to help clients

Certifications & Licenses: Licensing requirements vary depending on the state. Some states require you to hold a social work license to provide any social work services or even carry a social worker title. Other states do not require licensure, but it is often preferred by employers. Check your state’s licensure requirements to see if your state requires it.

Social Worker Skills

Social workers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Social workers communicate with a variety of people, including clients, other professionals, family members and other social workers. They must be able to communicate clearly and concisely in order to share information and explain complex concepts. They also need to be able to listen to others and understand their perspectives.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Social workers must have empathy to help their clients overcome their challenges. For example, a social worker may have empathy for a client who is grieving the loss of a loved one. The social worker may be able to relate to the client’s feelings and offer them comfort and support.

Problem-solving: Social workers often need to find solutions to complex problems. They may need to find resources for their clients, develop plans for overcoming obstacles and find ways to help their clients overcome challenges. Social workers may need to solve problems quickly and efficiently, so it’s important for them to be able to identify the issues and find effective solutions.

Time management: Time management skills can help social workers manage their caseloads and deadlines. They may also use time management skills to organize their work and prioritize tasks. This can help them meet their professional goals and maintain a positive work-life balance.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze situations and make decisions based on the information you have. Social workers use critical thinking skills to make informed decisions about their clients’ situations. They use this skill to help their clients find solutions to their problems and improve their quality of life.

Social Worker Work Environment

Social workers typically work in an office setting, although they may travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They may work for the government, a nonprofit organization, or a private company. They may also work in a hospital, a school, or a private practice. Social workers usually work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work evenings or weekends to meet with clients or attend meetings. Some social workers may work more than 40 hours per week, and some may have on-call duties. Social workers may experience high levels of stress because they deal with emotionally charged issues on a daily basis. They must be able to handle stress in a healthy way and have a strong support system to prevent burnout.

Social Worker Trends

Here are three trends influencing how social workers work. Social workers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Mental Health Professionals

The need for more mental health professionals is a trend that is being driven by the increasing prevalence of mental health issues. As more and more people are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and other disorders, there is a growing demand for social workers who can help them manage their symptoms and get the help they need.

Social workers can capitalize on this trend by becoming certified in mental health counseling. This will allow them to provide more comprehensive services to their clients and help them get the care they need.

More Focus on Trauma-Informed Practices

As society becomes more aware of the effects of trauma, there is a growing focus on trauma-informed practices. This means that social workers need to be familiar with trauma-informed practices in order to best serve their clients.

Trauma-informed practices include understanding how trauma affects individuals and families, as well as knowing how to identify signs of trauma and how to support those who have been through traumatic events. By adopting these practices, social workers can better serve their clients and help them overcome the challenges that come with trauma.

A Greater Emphasis on Self-Care

Social workers are increasingly realizing the importance of self-care. In an industry where burnout is common, taking time to recharge can be essential for staying productive and healthy.

By learning how to take care of themselves, social workers can avoid burnout and stay focused on helping others. Additionally, they can also set an example for their clients about the importance of self-care.

How to Become a Social Worker

Social workers have a lot of options when it comes to their career path. They can specialize in a particular area, such as mental health or child welfare, or they can choose to work with a specific population, such as seniors or veterans. Social workers can also decide whether they want to work in the public or private sector.

No matter what direction they choose, social workers should stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in their field. They should also continue their education by taking courses, attending workshops, and participating in professional development activities.

Related: How to Write a Social Worker Resume

Advancement Prospects

Social workers can find advancement opportunities in a variety of settings. Some social workers move into management positions, where they may oversee a team of social workers or a social work program. Others may advance by becoming clinical social workers, which requires additional education and training. Clinical social workers must be licensed in order to practice. Some social workers may also choose to open their own private practices.

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