Becoming a social worker is the perfect career if you want a job with meaning, diversity, satisfaction, and choice.
Just like any other career, it is important to consider all relevant factors such as educational requirements, average salary, future career prospects, and industry demand. Day-to-day job responsibilities in certain professions can also be challenging. For example, if you are looking for a predictable daily routine, a career in social work may not be for you because no two days will be the same!
A Day in the Life of a Social Worker
A social worker’s day-to-day role and tasks often vary depending on client and location. A social worker usually works in a geographical area or sector of the community to ensure their clients’ socio-economic and emotional needs are fulfilled. They also help their clients overcome personal and societal challenges such as mental illness, unemployment, domestic violence, substance misuse, divorce, and grief.
There are many types of social workers who work to address particular issues, or with certain groups such as children, incarcerated individuals and their families, the elderly, immigrants, and refugees. There are four main social work specializations: clinical social work, health care social work, mental health, and substance misuse social work, and child and family social work.
Social workers perform a broad range of daily activities, including counseling, office work, client and prospective client interviews, meetings with attorneys, and more.
To start the day, most social workers review their cases before meeting any clients or planning home visits. Depending on requirements, they may also meet with other service providers — such as medical professionals — to collaborate on cases to improve lives, or with police officers or attorneys to discuss any legal aspects of their cases.
Social workers have different clients; some work with adults or women experiencing homelessness; others may focus on helping children.
Here are some of a social worker’s usual daily responsibilities:
- Determining the client’s needs based on their financial, behavioral, emotional, and physical conditions
- Creating individualized care and treatment plans for each client, taking their visits, resources, and goals into account
- Providing access to health care services, education, and employment services
- Analyzing client progress and deciding how to create new goals with them
- Working alongside medical teams, other social workers, and legal teams.
Specifics within these duties may vary depending on factors such as client type and geographical region. Social workers will also need to adapt and respond to any emergencies or other unexpected events in their clients’ lives.
What are the Usual Challenges a Social Worker Faces?
Although duties may appear simple at first glance, there are certain challenges social workers face regardless of where they work.
- The field is quite expansive. This gives social workers the opportunity to choose from many community roles, including therapist, researcher, advocate, consultant, or supervisor.
- Bringing about change can be challenging; real change takes time. Whether you are working to bring about a small change, or going big and seeking changes to the law, perseverance and patience are needed.
- A social worker cannot fix everything; it will not be possible to single-handedly solve every issue and change the world, but you will certainly contribute to doing so.
Preparing for a Thriving Career as a Social Worker
To be a successful social worker, you will need to continuously work to improve your skills and increase your knowledge base. Many professionals do this by attending specialized programs, schools offering advanced degrees such as the Online Master’s of Social Work program, or doing fieldwork. With a degree qualification, you can become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), which will give you the independence to offer clinical client services without supervision.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need for over 89,000 new social workers up to 2030 to meet rising demand. This is a real opportunity for social workers to make an impact by helping people meet their fundamental needs.
Now that you’ve read about what a social worker’s day is like, you can decide whether it appeals to you. The field can be unpredictable yet rewarding. As discussed above, understanding the challenges will arm you with the skills you need to face them. If this small taste has encouraged you to pursue your goal of becoming a social worker, it may be time to consider your next career move to a growing sector where you can improve lives and communities.