How to become a Social Worker

Social workers help people to deal with personal and social problems, either directly or by planning or carrying out programmes that benefit groups or communities. They are interested in challenging the structural barriers that contribute to inequality, discrimination, exploitation and oppression within communities. Social workers can specialise in a range of different practice areas such as children and family, youth, violence and sexual assault, medical and health, child protection, income support, disability, education, aged care, correctional services, family law, youth justice, community legal, psychiatric and general mental health, refugees and migrants, and Indigenous communities.

Personal requirements for a Social Worker

  • Emotional maturity
  • Keen analytical abilities
  • Able to view other people's problems objectively
  • Good organisational and communication skills
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Commitment to social justice

Education & Training for a Social Worker

To become a social worker you usually have to complete a degree in social work at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

Before undertaking professional placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Social Worker

Social workers:

  • Provide counselling and support through a crisis that may be due to death, illness, relationship breakdown or other reasons
  • Provide clients with information about services that can assist them
  • Provide letters of referral or reports that will help clients to obtain other services such as crisis accommodation or social security benefits
  • Guide small groups of people to share their experiences, support each other and learn social skills
  • Assist community groups to plan and carry out programs to help themselves (assisting newly arrived immigrants to form an association, for example)
  • Research community problems, needs and solutions through client contact and records of welfare and health agencies
  • Analyse statistics and write reports
  • Develop policy and evaluate programs
  • Manage and train staff
  • Attend professional meetings
  • Lobby to change social welfare policies and procedures in the pursuit of social justice for all members of the community.

Tasks

  • Assisting clients to understand and resolve problems by providing information, acting as a mediator and referring them to community and self-help agencies.
  • Conducting individual and family case interviews to identify the nature and extent of clients' problems.
  • Providing leadership and assistance for the implementation of pilot projects in community development and self-help, and planning and implementing research projects to address client needs, organisation goals and social policy.
  • Assessing resources for health, welfare, recreation, housing, employment and other community services.
  • Acting as a facilitator between clients in need and community services.
  • Cooperating with community organisations, social agencies and voluntary groups to improve services and develop new services.
  • Analysing, developing, promoting and implementing social policies through the use of practice experience, research, analytic frameworks, and negotiation skills to respond to social need through a fair, equitable and effective allocation of social resource.
  • Compiling case records and reports.
  • Monitoring the progress of clients by maintaining contact.

Employment Opportunities for a Social Worker

Social workers are employed in a variety of community and social welfare fields and may work in state, territory and federal government departments; hospitals; community health centres; local government authorities; or non-government organisations. Some social workers are self-employed, working as counsellors, therapists and consultants. With their broad academic and practical training, qualified social workers may also work in non-social work areas as project officers, policy makers, managers or administrators.


Specializations

Social Worker

Social workers help people to deal with personal and social problems, either directly or by planning or carrying out programmes that benefit groups or communities. They are interested in challenging the structural barriers that contribute to inequality, discrimination, exploitation and oppression within communities. Social workers can specialise in a range of different practice areas such as children and family, youth, violence and sexual assault, medical and health, child protection, income support, disability, education, aged care, correctional services, family law, youth justice, community legal, psychiatric and general mental health, refugees and migrants, and Indigenous communities.

  • Average age
    Average age
    42 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Strong
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    84% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    41 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,829
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    64% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    32,900 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 1.8%
    NSW: 28.5%
    NT: 1.1%
    QLD: 17.0%
    SA: 10.5%
    TAS: 2.9%
    VIC: 29.4%
    WA: 8.7%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.1%
    20-24: 3.7%
    25-34: 27.6%
    35-44: 25.9%
    45-54: 21.9%
    55-59: 10.2%
    60-64: 7.1%
    65 and Over: 3.3%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 9.4%
    Bachelor degree: 58.8%
    Below Year 10: 0%
    Certificate III/IV: 3.6%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 24%
    Year 10 and below: 1%
    Year 11: 0.4%
    Year 12: 2.9%
    Years 11 & 10: 3.4%
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