Social Workers aim all of their efforts towards helping communities and providing people with a better standard of life. They work in a wide variety of places and have different responsibilities depending on their specialty. Social Workers provide counseling, help, and support to people with substance abuse problems, psychological or psychiatric disorders, family issues, unemployment, or suffering discrimination based on race, social status, or sexuality. They also provide assistance and counseling to children in foster care systems, adolescents and adults in correctional institutions, people suffering from terminal illnesses, or senior citizens in geriatric homes.
Most of them specialize in a specific type of group or community facing different problems. Therefore, Social Workers work in all sorts of places and institutions. They are usually hired by schools, community centers, municipal governments, non-profit organizations, correctional centers, adoption and foster care agencies, and geriatric homes.
Social Workers provide help and counseling to individuals or groups in order to help them overcome their issues and problems, offering a safe environment in which they can be nurtured and tended to until the point where help is no longer needed or required.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Social Workers are required to complete.
- Counseling individuals, families, and communities on issues of mental and physical health:
- Providing assistance to people suffering from substance abuse and physical or verbal violence;
- providing guidance to overcome poverty, discrimination, and social exclusion;
- advising communities on health issues;
- working with children welfare agencies and geriatric homes; and
- counseling and rehabilitating adolescents and adults in correctional systems.
- Interviewing individuals and groups in order to assess their problems:
- Keeping a record of all individuals met and interviews conducted; gathering information on an individual’s background;
- identifying people’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs to determine goals and ways to proceed; and
- writing reports based on their progress and needs.
- Counseling people on how to deal with divorce, substance abuse, mistreatment, and other related situations.
- Contacting family members in case of school abuse, physical or verbal attacks, aggression, or bullying.
- Liaising with other Counselors, Physicians, and Nurses to plan and provide the necessary treatment:
- Sharing information with colleagues to better assess situations;
- consulting with certified Physicians to design treatment plans; and
- assessing the individual’s needs as a group.
- Visiting individuals in homes or specialized facilities:
- Providing information on their agency and urging individuals to seek help;
- assessing family situations when necessary; and
- deciding on the best procedure based on visits (e.g. counseling, putting children in foster care, taking legal actions).
- Organizing group and community meetings and activities (e.g. group therapy, support groups, social gatherings, or community events):
- Inviting all individuals;
- Overseeing the development of activities; and
- keeping records of assistance and of the progress made.
- Counseling families with economic problems:
- Helping them find low-cost housing; and
- advising them when applying for social programs, such as food stamps or social help.
- Assisting in housing processes for children in foster care:
- Interviewing adopting families;
- conducting evaluations on prospective homes;
- assigning homes to individuals; and
- conducting regular checkups on children to monitor their development.
- Investigating cases of possible child abuse or neglect:
- Monitoring the child’s development;
- inspecting the family’s behavior; and
- reporting cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of social programs.
- Staying up-to-date with current legislations, policies, legal regulations, and restrictions.
- Providing testimony as a specialist in a court of law when necessary.
- Interviewing and counseling individuals, groups of people, or families.
- Assessing life situations and social backgrounds of individuals.
- Planning social gatherings, meetings, and other activities and inviting individuals to participate in such activities.
- Providing legal, financial, medical, or housing assistance or counseling to individuals or groups.
- Providing therapy to individuals and groups, helping them develop skills to overcome problems.
- Writing reports describing the progress and development of individuals or groups.
- Investigating cases of child or domestic abuse, as well as reporting said cases to the corresponding authorities.
- Advocating for individuals and groups affected by certain policies or laws (e.g. demolition or residential areas).
- Raising health awareness through campaigns.
- Creating social and school plans to help those in need.
The average Social Worker salary in USA is $58,679 per year or $30 per hour. This is around 2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $41,000 while most experienced workers make up to $82,000. These results are based on 4,586 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly and confidently, both in writing and verbally, in order to accurately provide counsel;
- using tact, patience, and good judgment when communicating with individuals, families, and groups to maintain effective and collaborative relationships;
- being a great listener, as well as being able to easily and efficiently identify people’s needs and difficulties (e.g. dealing with bullying, overcoming substance abuse problems, or family issues); and
- being an effective team player.
- Strong sense of empathy and compassion:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of people;
- being compassionate and patient when dealing with stressed and depressed people;
- displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about; and
- being able to work within a multicultural environment, showing consideration and respect to a diverse range of individuals and families of all backgrounds.
- Optimistic, enthusiastic, with a can-do attitude and a strong ability to motivate others.
- High levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness, as well as strong leadership skills:
- Adapting well to changing demands; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Strong organizational and administrative skills:
- Making use of a pre-established budget to organize activities and events;
- organizing group activities (e.g. meetings, assemblies, or support groups);
- monitoring activities being carried out; and
- keeping track of assistance.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills:
- Being able to translate ideas into practical goals.
- Intuition and decision-making skills:
- Being able to exercise great judgment, redirecting individuals to appropriate resources as needed.
- Exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic:
- Being trustworthy enough to handle sensitive/confidential information.
All Social Workers are required to possess certain qualifications in order to work. These professionals must have a bachelor’s degree in Social Work; however, a degree in Sociology or Psychology is commonly accepted. For some positions (e.g. Clinical Social Workers), applicants need to have a master’s degree in Social Work. Additionally, some institutions offer educational programs in order to get a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW).
In the US, Social Workers must be licensed in order to perform their job. Requirements vary from state to state; therefore, applicants need to check each state’s social board to meet these specific requirements. There are four types of licenses available:
- Bachelor’s licensure;
- master’s licensure;
- advanced generalist licensure; and
- clinical licensure.
Experience is a key factor for aspirant Social Workers, which can be easily obtained through volunteering jobs at community centers, geriatric homes, orphanages, welfare agencies, and other entities dedicated to providing social help to those in need. Most employers look for applicants with at least two 2 years of experience in the field.