Published On: Thu, Apr 28th, 2022

How to Become a Social Worker

Social workers are dedicated individuals who work with the community or society to help others and locate the causes of certain social issues. 

As they deal with these issues, they help individuals find and use resources that can improve their situations. 

A social worker can be a member of any number of different disciplines, such as mental health, family support, and community planning. A social worker often serves on a team where they will be working closely with other professionals in the field to solve problems within communities or families.

In some cases, depending on the size and scope of their field, a social worker may manage all aspects of an organization’s services for people in need, such as emergency management teams or healthcare departments.

photo/ StockSnap

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Social Worker

A specific educational background is not required to become a social worker. 

However, many people in the field have a degree in the social sciences, while others may have studied nursing or similar healthcare fields. 

Social workers generally have a major in psychology, sociology, political science, or human services. 

All states require social workers to be licensed. To receive licensure, an applicant must graduate from an accredited bachelor’s of social work program and pass the Association of Social Work Boards’ board exam for social work practitioners. 

Other requirements for licensure may include three to five years of on-the-job experience and passing the National Association of Social Workers’ exam.

Working As A Child Protection Social Worker

Child protection social workers are responsible for protecting the welfare of children in their communities.

Most child protection social workers start their careers in the community services department of local government organizations, such as a city or county. 

There, they work directly with people in need and families to provide aid and assistance to help them remain stable and independent. 

Some child protection social workers may also investigate cases where it is alleged that a child has been mistreated or abused, such as those who have suffered from neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or other related crimes. 

Social workers often work with law enforcement officials to ensure that children are safe and secure.

Working As A Family Support Social Worker

A family support social worker works with families to help them resolve issues of personal or domestic distress. 

Most family support social workers work for a local or state government or for private agencies that serve families. 

A family support social worker may work one-on-one with individual families as well as on teams in an effort to solve problems and help individuals improve their situations. 

Social workers are specialized. They are skilled service practitioners who work directly with clients, serving as consultants during problem-solving and implementation processes.

What’s Involved in Becoming Licensed?

Social workers are licensed by their national governing bodies. Social work license requirements vary from state to state. 

All social workers must complete an accredited bachelor’s degree or equivalent graduate in social work from a regionally accredited school. 

Most states require that the individual become licensed by passing the NASW board exam for social work practitioners. There are also many specific rules and regulations for federally licensed social workers set by the U.S. Department of Labor.

What are the Responsibilities of the Job?

Social workers provide professional services to individuals and families who may be victims of domestic violence, child abuse, financial abuse, or neglect. 

As members of specialized teams, they are often asked to train other professionals in the community on how to help individuals in need. 

They create and evaluate systems for helping people with their social problems. 

Ultimately, social workers help people improve their situations and make their lives more stable. They do this by providing the right level of support to different clients and families. 

As such, they are usually expected to carry out the following tasks: 

  • Provide emotional support
  • Support with advice
  • Counseling to individuals or families in need
  • Helping people manage emotional stress
  • Helping people solve problems related to their current living conditions

Furthermore, social workers often have the responsibility of referring clients to other agencies or specialists. 

This may involve discussing issues that the social worker cannot handle directly or giving suggestions and advice on how the client can deal with certain situations themselves. 

Social workers also act as consultants to community organizations and government bodies on matters concerning policies, programs, and services for individuals in need. They are also required to evaluate programs aimed at helping people in similar situations.

What is the Difference Between Private Practice versus Public Service?

Social workers provide a wide range of services for their clients, such as financial assistance, counseling, or programs to help improve their situations. 

Some social workers may also manage programs that provide clinical services, such as medical examinations or psychological tests. 

Others may be responsible for implementing governmental social policy or creating new policies or programs altogether. 

In the private practice setting, social workers can generally work on their own and have more autonomy with regard to their clients and cases. 

However, they may not have any legal authority over governments or other organizations that give them money to assist the general public. In the public sector, social workers are generally employed by governmental organizations or large private agencies such as hospitals. As such, they may not be able to use their knowledge and skills in a private setting.

What are the Career Progression Opportunities?

The career progression opportunities for social workers vary greatly depending on the type of work that he or she does and the position for which he or she is licensed. 

Social workers who are employed by public sector agencies have greater advancement opportunities than those who are in private practice, although both can progress to management positions at an executive level. 

Those who are in managerial positions may be responsible for evaluating and implementing new policies as well as managing the staff members under their supervision. 

Other social workers can take a step back from their normal positions and pursue research related to their careers. 

Through this approach, social workers have a chance to develop research and analytical skills that can benefit them later in the workplace.

Specializing In The Social Work Field

There are no specializations that social work offers. However, within the field of social work, there are a number of possible career options. 

For instance, one may choose to specialize in working with children or with families. 

Social workers can also specialize in working with members of certain ethnic groups or minorities. 

A social worker working with children would typically be trained to provide counseling, case management, and therapy for those youth who have suffered from neglect or abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual abuse). 

They also help those young people who need mentoring and guidance from adults in order to stay on a positive path.

Social workers provide a wide variety of services to clients, including planning, implementing, and evaluating social programs. 

They are required to complete specific requirements in order to become licensed practitioners by their state. 

This is an increasingly popular career choice for college students, especially those whose majors are psychology or sociology.

The Difficulties in the Job

Social workers are in a very competitive environment with high quality and professional ability to be evaluated. 

Due to the high competition, social workers need to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives. To do that, they have to have self-discipline, self-confidence, and motivation. 

Psychosocial stress may result when social workers have many additional responsibilities. 

Furthermore, they need to have great communication skills. Social workers must be able to effectively work with other social workers, physicians, and hospital personnel as well as with managers, administrators, case managers, and families of patients they are treating.

The job of a social worker involves developing a long-term plan of action for their clients in order to improve their situation. 

Furthermore, they evaluate programs related to the improvement of clients. They also provide emotional or social support to clients. 

Social workers are responsible for helping people and families resolve their problems. 

To do this, they often have to provide counseling and therapeutic interventions that help individuals improve their quality of life. 

They also act as consultants to community organizations and governments on matters concerning policies, programs, and services for clients in need. They are also required to evaluate programs aimed at helping people in similar situations that aim at improving their situation.


Becoming a social worker is not for the faint of heart, but the job is very rewarding for people who really want to make a difference in the community. 

Also, with the reward of deep relationships with people, there’s no better job out there. 

Even though the hours are long and stressful, most social workers find that their work is fulfilling. They also find that they are helping people in need.

Welfare programs provide essential income support to low-income families and individuals. Social workers must be well versed and ready to help those who need it most.

Many government organizations are now hiring qualified social workers, which is great news for those who want to make a difference by caring for others.

Author: Carol Trehearn

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