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Social Service Caseworker: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a social service caseworker. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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A career as a social service caseworker requires a bachelor's degree in social work. For some positions, a master's degree may be preferred. All social workers must meet their states' credentialing requirements. Social workers help clients cope with their problems. The clients they work with range from children from troubled homes to individuals coping with a serious illness.

Essential Information

Social work caseworkers help clients cope with a variety of problems they may face, from financial trouble to terminal diseases. Typically, this job requires a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), although some employers may look for those with a Master of Social Work (MSW). Additionally, licensing, certification or registration of social workers is required in all states, though regulations vary by state; in some areas, in addition to formal education, social workers must have a number of years of professional experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in social work; a master's degree in the field may be preferred
Other Requirements All states require social workers to be licensed, certified or registered; certification available through the National Association of Social Workers
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% for all social workers
Median Salary (2015)* $45,900 for all social workers; $42,010 for community and social service workers; $42,350 for child, family and school social workers; $52,380 for healthcare social workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Social Service Caseworker

Caseworkers are employed by healthcare and social assistance industries as well as the government to provide assistance and counseling to at-risk populations, such as children from troubled homes, those with serious illness or senior citizens in retirement communities. Caseworkers meet with their clients on a regular basis to assess how they're managing their circumstances. They help their clients make connections to available community resources, employers and friends in order to provide them with a support network.

Because caseworkers work for larger organizations, they must coordinate their clients' care with their superiors and report progress updates. Other job duties may include performing psychosocial evaluations, scheduling home visitations, making referrals and reporting abuse. Caseworker jobs frequently require professionals to travel to clients' homes; this may include visiting some potentially less-than-ideal or unwelcoming environments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment of social workers (including caseworkers) was anticipated to increase 12% from 2014-2024.

Requirements for a Social Service Caseworker

The BLS reported that a BSW is often a sufficient educational qualification to become a caseworker. These programs teach students the basics of social work, including social research and human behavior. They provide opportunities for students to involve themselves in their local social work community through internships or volunteer work.

Some employers may prefer or require applicants to hold a Master of Social Work. MSW programs, available at many universities, are intensive 2-year programs that emphasize both the principals behind social work and its clinical practice.

Licensure and Certification

All states have licensure, certification or registration requirements for social workers, according to the BLS. These requirements vary by state; however, applicants must hold a degree in social work as well as work experience. Additionally, caseworkers may become certified through the National Association of Social Workers.

Social service caseworkers provide a vital link between clients who need counseling, employment or health care services and the agencies that can provide them. To get started in this career field, prospective caseworkers will need to complete at least a bachelor's degree program in social work and meet state licensing or certification requirements. These professionals were expected to be in demand over the coming years and took home median salaries of around $46,000 in 2015.

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