Career and Job Search Guide

Social Worker

Social workers spend their time helping the less fortunate. Social workers help their clients solve personal and family problems. Certain social workers work with people with disabilities or less fortunate people living in inadequate housing. Social workers also resolve domestic conflicts such as spousal or child abuse. Some social workers conduct research, lobby legislators for more services, or are involved with policy development. Many social workers specialize in working with certain types of people.

Child, family, and school social workers provide social services to children and their families. They help struggling single parents and arrange foster care for neglected children. Certain social workers work with the elderly assisting them with housing and transportation, as well as coordinating long term care. Social workers may also coordinate employee assistance programs designed to help people cope with work stress and problems.

Social workers employed by schools work with parents and teachers to make sure students are learning. They also work with students struggling with truancy, bullying, misbehavior, and other personal problems. School social workers are teaching more class workshops.

Child, family, and school social workers are commonly referred to as child welfare, child protective, gerontology, occupational, and family services social workers. They work for state and federal government agencies and schools.

Medical and public health social workers help people cope with chronic and terminal illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. They advise caregivers and help patients released from the hospital, and they coordinate home services such as Meals on Wheels. Some work with teams to evaluate patients. These social workers work for hospitals, nursing care facilities, or local government agencies.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers assist people with mental illness and substance abuse problems. They coordinate outreach and intervention programs, individual and group therapy, social rehabilitation, and supportive services for individuals who have completed rehab. These social workers work at hospitals, substance abuse treatment clinics, and family service or government agencies.

Social work administrators, also known as planners and policymakers, coordinate programs to deal with child abuse, homeless, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and poverty. These social workers analyze the effectiveness of policies and regulations and recommend legislative solutions. They may also help raise money for important programs.

Work environment. Social workers spend the majority of their time at an office or treatment center but also travel to meet with clients and attend meetings. Social work can be challenging since underfunding creates small staffs, leaving social workers with large caseloads. However, social workers can receive satisfaction from their careers since they help troubled individuals. Most social workers work 40 hour weeks, often working nights and weekends to meet with clients and attend meetings. Social workers employed by nonprofit agencies usually work part time.