What Do Social Workers Do?

What is a Social Worker?
What Do Social Workers Do?
Where Do Social Workers Work?
Types of Social Workers
Social Worker Education Requirements
How Much Do Social Workers Make?
Your GMercyU Path to a Career in Social Work

What is a Social Worker?  

A social worker is someone dedicated to helping individuals, families and communities improve their quality of lives through counseling, advocacy, and reporting. Social workers may provide direct counseling to families and communities, advocate on their behalf to community organizations or other health professionals, or help guide clients through the legal system by providing testimony or assistance during court hearings.

In other words, social workers are committed to helping people change their lives for the better. There are many career paths within the field of social work, so finding your niche is as simple as finding where your interests lie. For example, you could work with children and families, with communities, in healthcare settings, or in rehabilitation centers, just to name a few.

Social workers with extra credentials, called Licensed Clinical Social Workers, can also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional health issues.

What Do Social Workers Do?

You may be wondering, what do social workers do? Because there are so many different career options within the field, that can be a difficult question to answer. Social workers have a variety of responsibilities depending on the environment in which they work.

There are a number of specialties in which social workers can focus, including family services, addiction, or health.  All social workers have similar goals: to help people solve and cope with the challenges in their lives through advocacy, counseling and referrals to other agencies and professionals.  

While all social workers help to assess clients’ needs and help them access available resources, licensed clinical social workers can also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional issues. In order to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, you’ll need to earn at least a master’s degree, pass a licensure exam, and complete three years of supervised experience.

Where Do Social Workers Work?

Social workers work in a variety of settings, depending on what type of social work they practice. Some common places that employ social workers are:

  • Governmental organizations
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Community centers
  • Nursing homes

Demand for social workers is expected to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Types of Social Workers

  • Community Social Workers:  A macro social worker is a social worker who identifies unmet needs in communities or other large units of people. These social workers are tasked with conducting assessments, referring residents to community resources, and organizing the community.
  • Child and Family Social Workers: A child and family social worker works with children and their parents and guardians to address challenges or other issues that are impacting the quality of their lives. They work with families experiencing illness, offer resources for parents who need support in caring for their children, and help children who are experiencing stress or other issues that make it difficult for them to maintain a health quality of life.
  • Healthcare Social Workers: A healthcare social worker helps people transition from the hospital back into their homes by offering resources and information to help them better understand their diagnosis and how to best move forward. Healthcare social workers help these patients make lifestyle changes, learn how to manage their illnesses, and make necessary accommodations in their homes that help them live independently.
  • School Social Workers: School social workers provide teachers, parents and students with the support they need to prepare students for learning. School social workers provide information for staff to better understand the factors that affect students’ performance, and provide the students with the counseling and resources they need to be successful in the classroom. School social workers might also assist parents during Individual Educational Planning meetings.
  • Clinical Social Workers: Licensed Clinical Social Workers provide counseling and therapy to individuals and families who experience illness, substance abuse or other trauma. Licensed Clinical Social Workers, who hold the most advanced social work credentials, can clinically evaluate, assess and diagnose mental illness. A master’s degree and state license is required to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Social Workers: Social workers who specialize in substance abuse and behavioral disorders evaluate clients’ health and assess their readiness for treatment. Together with their clients, they develop goals and plans for treatment, recommend resources for clients and their families, and help them develop new coping mechanisms.

Social Worker Education Requirements

In order to become a social worker, you must complete at least a bachelor’s degree in social work. Licensing requirements can vary by state.  To become a social worker in Pennsylvania, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree and pass the Pennsylvania social work exam before you’re eligible to apply for licensure through the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Counselors.
If you plan to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, you’ll need to earn at least your master’s degree and then pass the licensure exam.

How Much Do Social Workers Make?
 

Occupation

2016 Median Pay

Social Worker

$47,980

Social and Community Service Managers

$64,100

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

$43,300

Healthcare Social Workers

$56,810

Child, Family and School Social Workers

$48,430
 

*Source

Your GMercyU Path to a Career in Social Work

In 2017, Gwynedd Mercy University entered pre-candidacy with the Council on Social Work Educations’ (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation to offer a brand new Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree. The program should achieve accreditation well before the first class of students, which began in September 2017, are set to graduate in 2021.

As a student in GMercyU’s bachelor of social work (BSW) degree, you will have access to GMercyU’s experiential learning opportunities such as Best Buddies, Peer Mentoring Association and Alternative Spring Break, which will give you hands-on experience even before graduation.

Once you complete your BSW degree at GMercyU, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Pennsylvania social work exam and apply for state licensure through the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Counselors. You’ll also have advanced standing in CSWE master’s degree programs, so you’ll be eligible to complete your master’s degree in just one year.