Social Worker Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Social Worker, or Case Worker, is responsible for managing multiple clients and their individual needs. Their duties include meeting with clients and their loved ones to discuss recent successes or setbacks to their situations, developing treatment plans for clients with mental illnesses or clients recovering from traumatic events and frequently communicating with clients to ensure their physical and mental health.

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Social Worker duties and responsibilities

Social Workers work directly with patients and their families and need to have compassion. Social Workers should be patient, calm and able to manage stress. They may need to provide treatment to patients in lieu of medical professionals in the event of emergencies while also providing therapeutic support to patients and their families as needed. Social Workers may also have the following duties:

  • Evaluate patients (existing, new and prospective) based on their needs, limitations and desires
  • Address patient concerns and goals while maintaining constant communication with the patient as well as a case manager
  • Build rapport with patients and their families
  • Coordinate care with PT and OT departments
  • Develop care plans for patients
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What does a Social Worker do?

Social Workers typically work for various institutions, including schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, non-profit organizations and government agencies, to support clients in a specialized area. They work closely with healthcare professionals, Law Enforcement Officers, School Counselors and Probation Officers to relay information about their clients and their progress. Their job is to encourage their clients to maintain a healthy lifestyle, talk about their feelings and pursue their hobbies while also learning to live with their illnesses and past traumas.

They may also be responsible for traveling by car to a client’s home to conduct inspections and ensure they have a positive environment in which to live.

Social Worker skills and qualifications

A successful Social Worker will have strong communication skills, both to provide understandable support and plans to patients and their families and to listen carefully to understand their issues. They must be patient when talking to patients and their families and know how to calm them down and solve their problems. It is important to have empathy so they can show the patient they understand their issue and are working to help them. Here are several other skills and qualifications a Social Worker should have:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work
  • 5+ years of clinical social work experience
  • Knowledge of specific software programs used within your organization
  • Valid and current LCSW or LMSW license
  • Excellent listening and communication skills
  • Ability to make psychosocial assessments and develop and implement care plans
  • Ability to provide after-hours service as needed
  • Bilingual preferred

Social Worker salary expectations

A Social Worker makes an average of $59,417 per year. Salary may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Social Worker education and training requirements

Social Workers need a minimum bachelor’s degree in social work. Clinical Social Workers, however, must have a master’s degree, two years of experience in a clinical setting and a state license in the state in which they practice. After their formal education, Social Workers may complete paid or unpaid internships in order to get hands-on training before finding employment. 

Social Worker experience requirements

Social Worker positions may be entry-level unless it is a Clinical Social Worker position, in which case a minimum of two years of experience in a supervised setting is required. A Social Worker should have experience working with a variety of people in sometimes difficult situations. Social Workers may also excel when they have previously volunteered for community events and worked well as part of a team.

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Frequently asked questions about Social Workers

 

What are the different types of Social Workers?

There are several different types of specialties Social Workers can specialize in. Here are some key examples of Social Worker job titles:

  • Child, Family and School Social Worker: This type of Social Worker specializes in providing support to children and their families. This can include monitoring a child’s experience in a foster home, helping a child and their family find resources in the aftermath of trauma or assisting parents in finding the right school for their child with a mental illness or physical disability.
  • Substance Abuse Social Worker: Substance Abuse Social Workers work closely with those struggling with addictions. They help them find counseling services, create treatment plans and check on them periodically to show their support for their client. 
  • Mental Health Social Worker: These individuals specialize in helping clients with a broad range of mental health conditions. They assist their clients in scheduling appointments, traveling to their appointments and creating a plan to find employment or housing despite their conditions.
  • Community Social Worker: This type of Social Worker focuses on providing resources and support to families and whole communities in response to events like natural disasters or human-made tragedies. They can also address trends in community drug use or theft.
  • Military and Veteran Social Worker: Military and Veteran Social Workers help veterans and military service members obtain the support they need to maintain a healthy life despite having PTSD and other conditions resulting from their service experiences.

 

What are the daily duties of a Social Worker?

On a typical day, a Social Worker starts by reviewing their client appointments for the day. They travel to their client’s homes or healthcare facilities to check in with them and help them make plans for treatment or other life events. After each appointment, Social Workers compile their notes into reports detailing their client’s progress.

 

What makes a good Social Worker?

A good Social Worker has a personable nature, allowing their clients to feel comfortable sharing personal information with them. They have excellent interpersonal communication that helps them connect with individuals with various personalities and backgrounds. Further, a good Social Worker also has superb attention to detail that allows them to notice changes in a client’s behaviors.

 

Who does a Social Worker report to?

A Social Worker report to different roles depending on their work environments. For example, a Social Worker working in a clinical setting may report to a Physician or Mental Health Director. Social Workers working for government agencies may report directly to a Social Work Manager or a Law Enforcement Official to discuss a client’s health and well-being.

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