Social Services is a line of work that involves providing assistance, counselling, and guidance to people in various aspects of their lives. Professionals working in this area can specialize in helping people overcome social issues (e.g. discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation), poverty, health problems, substance abuse, or family mistreatment.
Most individuals working in any form of Social Service are employed by community centres, social welfare organizations, and charity foundations. Most of these organizations rely heavily on volunteer work, but job opportunities are available for people interested in pursuing a career based on helping others.
Depending on the branch of Social Services, employees may work with children and adolescents involved in illicit activities, currently in correctional centres, or going through foster care or adoption processes. Other Social Services employees work with adults as counsellors providing assistance in many aspects of their lives.
Social Services professionals are usually responsible for the following:
- Interviewing and counselling individuals, groups of people, or families.
- Planning social gatherings, meetings, and other activities, inviting individuals to participate in such activities.
- Providing legal, financial, medical, or housing assistance or counselling to individuals or groups of people.
- Helping individuals and groups develop skills (e.g. self-confidence, determination, and discipline) 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.
- Monitoring and assisting children and adolescents during foster care and adoption processes.
All professionals working in the Social Services field usually share the same characteristics, which include, but are not limited to:
- Having outstanding interpersonal and communication skills.
- Possessing a strong sense of empathy and compassion.
- Displaying optimism, enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and a strong ability to motivate others.
- Having high levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness.
- Demonstrating strong organizational and administrative skills.
- Having analytical, problem-solving, and conflict resolution skills.
- Displaying intuition and decision-making skills.
- Possessing exceptional professionalism and strong work ethic.
Job opportunities in the field of Social Services are widely available for applicants with a strong sense of empathy and a desire to pursue a career helping others. The usual educational requirements to work in this field are possessing a bachelor’s degree or a college diploma in Psychology or Social Work. However, the most important requirement is certification, which can be obtained in various vocational schools throughout Canada. Depending on the specialization (e.g. Social Worker, Child and Youth Worker, or Occupational Therapist) aspirants wish to take on, the requirements to obtain the certification can vary between provinces.
Experience is also a key asset for candidates looking to boost their career in Social Services. Most employers usually require at least 2 years of experience in the field, which can be easily obtained by doing volunteer work with social organizations and foundations.