Social Worker Video: Career Options in Social Work

Social Worker Video: Career Options in Social Work Transcript

Social workers typically have a background in sociology or social science. They can be classified as a victim advocate, a LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) or a general social worker who specializes in a particular area. Social workers need advanced education beyond high school and typically work for nonprofit, health care or government agencies.


A social worker is trained to help others deal with issues ranging from emotional relationships to substance abuse. Some social workers also help others face the fears and tribulations associated with family crises, diseases or disabilities. Social workers must have advanced education beyond high school and are typically required to be certified or licensed in some way, depending on the state in which they work.

Job Duties and Skills

Because there are many different areas and specialties of social work, the job duties of these professionals may vary. Family and child social workers, for instance, work with children and their families to deal with issues, such as schooling, violence in the home, adoption or foster care. They may conduct home visits or meet with families and children in a school setting. Public health or medical social workers are available to provide support to individuals and families dealing with a disease or terminal illness. They may need a background that gives them knowledge of medical terminology and conditions. This requirement applies to social workers who deal with mental health or substance abuse patients as well. Social workers in this arena are often charged with setting up interventions, rehabilitation or re-teaching everyday living skills. All social workers, no matter their specialty, need to be knowledgeable of human development and social issues. They must have good listening skills and be able to help guide people in coping with their problems. It is also important that social workers understand how to deal with a variety of populations and diversity of the public.

Training Required

At a minimum, social workers must obtain a bachelor's degree, usually in social work, sociology, psychology or a similar subject area. It is very typical for social workers to need an advanced degree, such as a master's in social work, social policy or social administration.

In addition to the degrees mentioned, all states require certification or licensing for social workers, especially when it comes to using professional titles. Each state's policies are different. Social workers who obtain a master's in social work may be eligible for the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the Diplomat in Clinical Social Work or the Qualified Clinical Social Worker designation.

Career Opportunities

Social workers can be found in the health care industry, government or nonprofit organizations. They can work as case administrators, family social workers or substance abuse social workers. Advancement is typical for those who have a master's or doctorate degree. Social workers can expect long hours at times and may work under stressful situations. Those with a social work background can also find themselves working in public policy, programs and regulations.


Becoming adept at social work can take up to six or seven years of training, depending on what type of degree you receive. It is a profession that can lead to an array of specialties and is typically found within government, nonprofit, and health care industries. Being able to communicate, listen and problem-solve with diverse populations and patients is essential.


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