What Does a Social Worker Do?
Social work attracts energetic, empathetic people who want a career dedicated to helping others lead better lives. They work with individuals, families, and groups by helping people solve problems in their everyday lives, connecting them to needed services, and responding in a crisis.
People experiencing the most vulnerable time in their lives rely on social workers to help them find solutions to complex problems. Social workers use their skills and expertise to promote good mental health, strengthen relationships, and end generational cycles of trauma and substance use, ultimately creating healthier families and communities.
A social worker’s career can lead to many places. Social workers work in a wide range of medical facilities, including hospitals, mental health clinics, school health offices, and private practices. No matter where they work, social workers spend their workdays helping people overcome difficulties and challenges in their lives.
What Does a Social Worker Do?
The answer to the question, “What does a social worker do?” depends on the type of social worker. A degree in social work prepares graduates to enter a range of different occupations. They include the following, according to the National Association of Social Workers:
- Administration and management: Taking leadership roles in private and public agencies that provide services to clients.
- Advocacy and community organization: Championing the rights of communities and individuals to support social justice.
- Aging: Working exclusively with older clients.
- Child welfare: Focusing on providing care to vulnerable children.
- Developmental disabilities: Advocating for parents of the disabled and ensuring they know their rights.
- Health care: Working with people on social and personal issues that impact health.
- Justice and corrections: Working in courts, rape crisis centers, police departments, and correctional facilities
- Public welfare: Creating programs, training and supervising staff, and setting and evaluating standards and criteria for service delivery.
In whatever role they work, social workers focus on making a difference for communities and individuals.
What Are the Job Duties of Social Workers?
Social workers bring a combination of compassion, knowledge, and skills to their work. No matter where they work, certain tasks are part of the job. These tasks include:
- Identifying the people and communities who need help
- Assessing clients’ needs, situations, and strengths
- Responding to crisis situations
- Caring for in-need children
- Maintaining case files and records
- Developing and evaluating programs and services to ensure basic needs
Social workers often do not work a typical eight-hour workday. Rather than sit in an office, social workers spend most of their work hours in the community. A typical day might include attending a court hearing, supervising visits, advocating for client needs, and meeting with clients.
In addition to making many decisions regarding their clients, social workers also provide most mental health services in the United States, according to KVC Health Systems.
Skills of Social Workers
To complement what they learn about social work in college, social workers require other “soft skills.” For example, they must hone their communication skills, providing support and listening carefully to patients’ issues. The job also requires a great deal of patience and the ability to help calm people. Having empathy is key to the job.
Social workers must also practice self-care. It’s a “nice to have” for many people but a necessity for people working in social work. Work fatigue is a common issue in social work. It’s important to those in the field to reduce stress and do what they can to reduce the risk of burnout.
What You’ll Learn in a Master of Social Work Program
Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work prepares graduates with the skills they need to take on entry-level positions in this important field. They will graduate into a world that values their skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 12 percent increase in social workers between 2020 and 2030. That translates to more than 89,000 new jobs.
The Touro University Worldwide online Bachelor of Arts in Social Work prepares graduates as a generalist in social work. The program emphasizes students gaining the knowledge needed to promote their clients’ well-being. Learning experiences include fieldwork in schools, counseling centers for families, senior centers, and social service charitable organizations.
The program also encourages graduates to enter the working world as advocates for social change and a more just, equitable society. Many graduates move on to earn a master’s degree from Touro University Worldwide, expanding their knowledge and making them better prepared to use their skills to make positive changes in the world.