School Social Worker Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A School Social Worker, or Licensed School Social Worker, is responsible for supporting students and advocating for their emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. Their duties include counseling students, connecting at-risk youth with helpful resources and conducting home visits to provide additional support.

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School Social Work duties and responsibilities

The duties of a School Social Worker include but are not limited to:

  • Promoting the general well-being of students
  • Working with outside agencies to provide support to families
  • Offering mentoring and suggestions for Teachers and other school personnel
  • Developing and providing crisis intervention strategies to improve student success
  • Working to maximize coping skills for students in difficult situations
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What does a School Social Worker do?

School Social Workers work at elementary, middle and high schools to administer professional mental health support to the student body. The School Social Worker’s role is to intervene when students are struggling and help them find healthy ways to succeed in school. They educate students on social and emotional concepts. They collaborate with Teachers to identify students that are struggling emotionally, socially or academically and identify the root cause of their issues. School Social Workers direct students and their families to sources of community support like free medical care or housing assistance to help students overcome obstacles.

School Social Worker skills and qualifications

School Social Workers work in demanding environments and should possess the following skills and qualifications to ensure the success of both students and the School Social Worker:

  • Ability to develop creative solutions to challenging situations
  • Proactive and positive attitude
  • Able to set boundaries 
  • Perception and active listening
  • Empathetic yet objective

School Social Worker salary expectations

While there is no specific salary data for School Social Workers, a typical Social Worker makes an average of $59,489 per year, though salaries can vary according to geographical location and the experience level and qualifications of the applicant.

School Social Worker education and training requirements

While those who would like to earn a living as School Social Workers can do so with a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field of study and some experience in related jobs, most states require a minimum of a master’s degree in social work from an accredited school. Specific licensing or certification requirements for School Social Workers may vary from state to state. Some Social Workers may even have a doctorate level degree in social work to make them more competitive.

School Social Worker experience requirements 

The master’s program for a School Social Worker usually includes an internship and fieldwork. Individuals becoming a School Social Worker will also need to attain a license. Licenses can range from the Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), which allows an individual to work independently and in more complicated situations. Typically, clinical licenses require at least two to three years of supervised clinical social work.

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Frequently asked questions about School Social Workers


What are the traits of a good School Social Worker?

School Social Workers should be good listeners who are able to build trusting relationships with their students. To be successful, School Social Workers need to be perceptive and aware of their surroundings to identify students that are struggling. They pay attention to the small details of student interactions and use those behaviors to connect with them and provide them relevant support. Good School Social Workers are connected to their community and are aware of the available resources that they can share with students and their families. They are friendly and caring and put each student’s wellbeing as a top priority.


What is the difference between a School Social Worker and a School Counselor?

School Social Workers and School Counselors can have some overlap, but School Social Workers tend to focus on the student’s overall wellbeing outside of the school while School Counselors prioritize academic performance, career goals and in-class behavior. While School Social Workers can provide counseling as part of their role, they also address holistic aspects of the student’s wellbeing like food insecurity, homelessness and family issues. School Counselors and School Social Workers often work closely together to create an action plan for troubled students that could include one-on-one counseling sessions or referrals to outside treatment.


What are the daily duties of a School Social Worker?

On a typical day, School Social Workers spend part of their time performing administrative tasks like managing student documents, submitting funding requests, answering letters and preparing compliance documents. They send emails and calls communicating with community resource groups like food pantries and family shelters. School Social Workers pull students from class to discuss concerns and may go off-site after school to see students in their home. School Social Workers may attend truancy court to support students or provide character testimony. Some School Social Workers serve multiple schools and visit them at different times in the day to meet with students.


What should you look for on a School Social Worker resume?

Select a strong School Social Worker candidate to interview by looking for resumes that emphasize the applicant’s direct impact on students and their community. Look for details about how the School Social Worker improved graduation rates or helped students in need. School Social Worker resumes should omit any identifying information about their students to demonstrate respect for confidentiality rules. Make sure the resume identifies the School Social Worker’s recent certifications and any special courses they have taken related to providing social support.

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