Career Profile: Outreach Worker
What They Do
Outreach workers can specialize in a variety of different fields that best fit their skills and knowledge. Community outreach workers, for example, act as liaisons between community organizations and local citizens. Youth outreach workers work primarily with young adults and children in environments that can include youth centers and schools. The focus of an outreach worker may be on a specific demographic, like the elderly or a specific issue such as health, safety or education.
Ideally, an outreach worker has exceptional communication skills. Interpersonal skills that allow these professionals to build relationships and trust within the population are very important. Problem solving skills that can deal with issues concerning conflicts or other problems are essential to success for an outreach worker.
Because connecting with people is the primary responsibility of an outreach worker, knowing how to make the most of an open line of communication is key. Depending on the environment in which a worker is placed and their primary goals for being there, different techniques and methods of engagement and communication can be used.
An outreach worker whose main goal is to educate a population about health risks and prevention may focus on data and resources that directly affect the intended crowd. Those who work within the realm of education outreach may focus on informing the public on continuing education programs, after-school programs and training programs.
Most outreach workers are given ready-made source material with which to work. However, some are responsible for developing their own marketing and informational material handouts, promotions and campaigns. Some outreach workers act as advocates for a certain population, while others provide a community with social support. Holding meetings that deal with community-related issues and topics is a common activity for an outreach worker, as well as taking part in community events in order to let the intended message be known.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of social and community service managers will grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the rate of all other occupations. Because of the growing diversity and non-English speaking populations, outreach workers are needed to engage with these populations.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for a social and community service manager is about $59,970. Those who work for the state and local government make around $69,490 and those who work for religious, grant-making, civic, professional and other similar organizations make $61,500 a year.
Though in some cases all an outreach worker needs is a high school diploma, career prospects increase for graduates of a bachelor’s degree program. A Bachelor of Arts in Social Work is an appropriate level of education for an outreach worker. Outreach workers often deal with social justice causes and human diversity. Social work programs cover those topics as well as equip students with skills relating to communication and evidence-based approaches to research and practical decision making.
Those individuals who are fluent in multiple languages are considered prime hiring material because of their ability to reach those who may not understand English.
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