Social Worker Job Description

Social Worker assisting teenager.  Social workers work with people to cope with and solve problems.

Social Worker assisting teenager.  Social workers work with people to cope with and solve problems.

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

Their job description: They improve people's lives by assisting them in a variety of ways. They provide counseling and training on coping and solving interpersonal issues, family problems, financial challenges, and substance abuse. They deal with problems like inadequate housing, not enough food, poor parenting skills, domestic abuse, and social issues.

Social workers can be both licensed and unlicensed. Many of them specialize in working in a particular area such as schools, addiction programs, hospitals or social program departments.

Child, Family and School social workers provide services and assistance for children and families. They may be involved in finding daycare, referral to specialized programs, assisting with helping clients fill out paper work, or may even provide counseling services for families and children. They may also work for state departments such as Child Protective Services.

Medical and Public Health social workers focus on vulnerable populations such as adults with Alzheimer's or the elderly. They may work as discharge planners, referral managers, and case managers for specific groups. They assist with nursing home placements, medical equipment procurement, counseling, and referrals for social services.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse social workers assist and treat people with mental illness, substance abuse issues, and other problems such as homelessness. They provide individual and group counseling and therapy, crisis intervention, case management services, social rehabilitation and skills for every day living. They may teach basic skills such as check book management or more complex issues such as managing post traumatic stress and how to cope with anger management issues.

Social Work Administrators and Researchers deal with policy making, research, and policy development. They develop and implement programs to address community or national social issues such as drug abuse, homelessness, and even poverty. They may be involved in educating legislators or raising funds to help address these issues.

Working Environment

Social workers work indoors in offices and other indoor settings. The physical environment is comfortable with no significant environmental hazards. The work load and the stress of working with people in distress can be emotionally and psychologically demanding. The average work week is 40 hours with a Monday through Friday work schedule being typical. Some evening and week end work may be required. In some settings social workers are on call for crisis management 24 hours a day.

Training and Qualifications - what you have to do to be a Social Worker

A bachelor's degree in social work is considered the minimum entry level degree. A bachelors in psychology or sociology may be acceptable if you desire to work in the entry level positions. To be a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) you are required to have a masters degree. In order to provide counseling services a social worker has to perform a certain number of clinical hours while being supervised or proctored and be licensed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. All states and territories in the U.S. have some licensing or registration requirements in order to practice and use professional titles as a social worker.

Licensing and Credentialing

In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories social workers are regulated. The usual method to be credentialed and licensed is:

1.    Possess a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from an accredited school.

2.    Pass a national exam.

3.    Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in.

Important Points

Licensed Clinical Social Workers must be licensed which includes having an MSW and passing an exam.

Employment is expected to increase faster than average as a result of increasing demand for healthcare and social services.

Social Workers have a variety of settings that employ them.

Career Progression

There is the opportunity to open a private practice in counseling. In essence they would be a small business owner. Opportunity to become a department manager or to advance to a clinical manager also exists.

Resources for Social Workers Job Description:

Social Workers: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

National Association of Social Workers