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Welfare Case Worker Job Duties, Requirements and Outlook

Welfare case workers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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A welfare case worker assists individuals facing some type of adversity, such as terminal illness, financial difficulty or addiction. They often advise in-need people about their situations, providing awareness for community support programs such as rehabilitation or transportation. A welfare case worker needs at least a bachelor's degree in social work; however, some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree.

Essential Information

Welfare case workers help individuals who face ongoing difficulties, such as financial trouble, living with a life-threatening disease or substance abuse. They counsel individuals about community programs or job training and help facilitate outside assistance if necessary. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) is required for the job, though a master's degree in social work (MSW) may be needed for some positions.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree in social work, depending on the employer's requirements
Other Requirements Proper licensure according to state requirements
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% for all social workers
Median Salary (2015)* $58,560 for broad field of social workers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Welfare case workers assist troubled individuals with their day-to-day problems. They may help those with family trouble, living with a debilitating disease or dealing with substance abuse. They work with a wide range of people, from children to the elderly, and are employed in a variety of settings. For instance, they might work in schools or hospitals, for government organizations or for private companies. In general, they advise clients on ways they might adjust to their situation and assist in coordinating outside help like rehabilitation, transportation and home healthcare for those in need.

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Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) is the minimum requirement for becoming a case worker (www.bls.gov). Many colleges offer these programs, which aim to prepare students for an immediate career in social work through a mix of classroom education and experience. In fact, the BLS notes that often these programs require around 400 hours of supervised fieldwork.

Certain positions, such as those in the healthcare field or in school and clinical settings, may require applicants to have earned a master's degree in social work (MSW). These 2-year programs require a minimum of 900 hours of field experience, which can be earned through internships.

In addition to possessing a degree, all states require their social workers to have obtained proper licensing. Interested parties may find their individual state's requirements by approaching their state directly or by contacting the Association of Social Work Boards (www.aswb.org). The ASWB also offers examinations that individuals can take to qualify for social work practice in their state.

Outlook

The BLS reports that employment for social workers in all fields is expected to grow 12% between 2014 and 2024. Social workers who handle mental health and substance abuse issues have an especially favorable outlook, with an expected 19% growth during that same time span. Those who work in healthcare can also expect a 19% increase in jobs. Healthcare social workers are expected to be especially in demand as the baby boom generation enters old age.

Social workers, including welfare case workers, must acquire licensing from the state where they are employed. In order to be eligible for a master's program in social work, applicants first need to have completed at least 900 hours of work experience in the field; this fieldwork can include internship hours. Many colleges that offer degrees in social work require students to complete approximately 400 supervised hours of fieldwork in addition to their in-class work.

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