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 speciality. Social Workers provide counselling 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 counselling to children in foster care systems, adolescents and adults in correctional institutions, 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 centres, municipal governments, correctional centres, adoption and foster care agencies, and geriatric homes.
Social Workers provide help and counselling 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.
- Counselling 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
- counselling 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; and
- writing reports based on their progress and needs.
- Liaising with other Counsellors, 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. counselling, 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.
- Assisting in housing processes for children in foster care:
- Interviewing adopting families;
- conducting evaluation 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 behaviour; and
- reporting cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Evaluating the effectiveness of social programs.
- Providing testimony as a specialist in a court of law when necessary.
- Interviewing and counselling 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 counselling 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.
The average Social Worker salary is $54,932 per year or $28 per hour. This is around 1.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $38,000 while most experienced workers make up to $77,000. These results are based on 592 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;
- 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. In all provinces and territories, with the exception of Alberta, all Social Workers are required to possess a bachelor’s degree in Social Work or Psychology. In Alberta, Social Workers can possess a bachelor’s degree; however, a diploma in Social Work is enough to work in this province. Furthermore, Social Workers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta must be registered at a provincial government body in order to practice this profession.
Experience is a key factor for aspirant Social Workers, which can be easily obtained through volunteering job at community centres, geriatric homes, orphanages, welfare agencies, and other entities dedicated to providing social help to those in need.