What does a Social Worker Do? Career Review 2024 

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A social worker performs one basic duty, and that is to provide support and resources to assist underprivileged members of a community. The roles of a social worker are diverse, although sometimes they are directed to a specific group of homeless children, other times, older People. Moreover, the roles of social workers differ according to the sector or organization they work with.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as a social worker, it is wise that you know what the day-to-day life of a social worker entails, the roles and responsibilities, and the skills required.

What is a Social Worker?

A social worker is someone who is dedicated to changing people’s lives. These include families, children, and members of the community at large. They do this by employing different outreach strategies, through counseling, advocating, educating, and outsourcing resources to help improve the lives of the clients. 

Additionally, social workers provide legal support to clients during court cases by standing in to give testimonies on their behalf. Working as a social worker is a rewarding profession if you are passionate about making a positive impact on the world while touching people’s lives. 

More so, as earlier mentioned in the introduction, there are many career paths in social work. The best way to narrow down is by following your interests and passions. For instance, the mentioned legal social workers, their work lies in helping clients with court cases navigate the process with ease. 

However, if you are not skilled in that line, you could also work with children., health care settings, or with the community or rehabilitation centers.

What does a Social Worker do?

Social workers serve different populations according to their needs. From demonstrating care to advocating for support to doze in need of intervention, social workers do a lot for the community. A Day in the Life of a Social Worker could include any of the following:

1. Client Assessment and Management

This includes holding meetings with clients, assessing their needs, and developing the right solution to address them. This might involve counseling individuals coping with mental health issues, helping families in crisis, or helping the aged due for retirement transition.

2. Resource Management and Advocacy

Social workers act as advocates for underprivileged members of the community. Through their advocacy programs, they provide resources like food banks, legal aid, and healthcare services to the community. Social workers often act as liaisons between individuals and complex social systems to ensure their voices are heard and their needs are met.

3. Community Outreach and Development

It is the responsibility of social workers to collaborate with community organizations and stakeholders to identify and address challenges impacting the well-being of the people. This happens in different stages but mostly involves advocating for policy changes, developing social programs, or building community resources that address people’s pain.

4. Crisis Intervention and Response

Social workers also bear the burden of responding to urgent situations like child abuse, domestic violence, or mental health emergencies. 

These activities and more from the day-to-day activity of a social worker. Every day for a social worker is unique and packed with challenges. But one thing remains constant – they give their all to helping others navigate life’s complex challenges.

Responsibilities of a Social Worker in the Community

From healthcare to child welfare and legal support, social workers are very resourceful in the community. The core responsibilities of social workers in the community are raped on four care.

1. Healthcare

Social workers collaborate with medical teams to manage chronic illnesses in the community, address mental health needs, and support patients going through complex healthcare systems.

2. Child welfare

Many children are vulnerable in the community, especially homeless children. Social workers help to protect children from neglect and abuse. They do this by ensuring that these children are safe within their families and receive the best care.

3. Mental Health

They also provide therapy and counseling to individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges by collaborating with healthcare facilities or the government.

4. Criminal Justice

Certified legal social workers work with offenders and victims of crime to promote rehabilitation, support, and restorative justice.

5. Aging Services

With the aging population on the high side in most Western nations, even across the globe, social workers also assist older adults who can not care for themselves with independent living by providing resources and support to cope with health challenges and social isolation.

Types of Social Workers

There are different types of social workers based on their specific responsibilities and duties. In this section, we consider the most common types:

  • Child and Family Social Workers
  • Clinical Social Workers
  • School Social Workers
  • Healthcare Social Workers
  • Community Organizers
  • Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Social Workers

1. Child and Family Social Workers 

A licensed child and family social worker is knowledgeable about the rubric of safeguarding children facing neglect, abuse, and rejection in society. They help families and children overcome periods of rials and pain.

Specific Tasks

  • Investigating reports of child abuse or neglect.
  • Connecting families with needed resources, such as housing, food assistance, and parenting programs.
  • Developing and implementing case plans to ensure children’s safety and well-being.
  • Providing counseling and support to families facing stress, conflict, or mental health issues.
  • Advocating for children’s rights and working to prevent child maltreatment.

Average Salary: $59,340 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023)

2. School Social Workers:

School social workers provide support and counseling sessions for teachers, parents, and students. They also engage in providing learning resources to improve learning and aid students’ performance in school. 

Specific Tasks:

  • Identifying and addressing students’ academic, social, and emotional needs.
  • Collaborating with teachers, parents, and other professionals to develop support plans.
  • Providing individual and group counseling to students facing challenges like bullying, anxiety, grief, etc.
  • Connecting students with community resources and mental health services.
  • Advocating for policies that promote a positive school climate and student success.

Average Salary: $60,220 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023)

3. Healthcare Social Workers

Licensed healthcare social workers support patients and families through the healthcare system, especially when passing through a difficult phase. The roles of healthcare and clinical social workers are similar except for the facilities they possess and licensed certifications.

Specific Tasks:

  • Assessing patients’ psychosocial needs and providing emotional support.
  • Connecting patients with necessary resources, such as home care, financial assistance, and support groups.
  • Advocating for patients’ rights and ensuring they receive quality healthcare.
  • Facilitating communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers.
  • Providing grief counseling and end-of-life support.

Average Salary: $60,880 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023)

4. Community Organizers

These workers empower communities and tackle internal and external issues through grassroots mobilization and advocacy.

Specific Tasks:

  • Identifying and analyzing community needs.
  • Building relationships with community members and mobilizing them for action.
  • Developing and implementing strategies for social change, such as organizing protests, lobbying legislators, and launching public education campaigns.
  • Fundraising and managing resources to support community initiatives.
  • Building partnerships with other organizations and stakeholders.

Average Salary: $46,500 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023)

5. Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Social Workers

Function: They support individuals and families struggling with addiction, mental health issues, or behavioral disorders.

Specific Tasks:

  • Conducting assessments and developing treatment plans for individuals with substance abuse or mental health issues.
  • Providing individual, group, and family therapy.
  • Connecting clients with appropriate resources, such as detoxification programs, medication management, and support groups.
  • Advocating for policies and programs that address addiction and mental health challenges.
  • Educating communities about substance abuse and mental health.

Average Salary: $50,680 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2023)

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Essential Skills for Social Workers

To be successful as a social worker, besides acquiring the basic education and certifications involved, you need to compassion amongst others to succeed in this role. Below are some of the essential skills needed to make an impact for this role:

1. Empathy 

Social workers daily anticipate challenging situations that require a thoughtful approach and a level of empathy. So, being able to genuinely understand and share the feelings of others is a necessary attribute. Social workers build trust and rapport with clients through empathy, creating a safe space for them to share their struggles.

2. Communication

Effective communication is the ability to coherently pass down information and actively listen to people’s expressions. This is an important skill that requires mastery from anyone intending to be a social worker. Social workers need to listen intently, ask clarifying questions, and communicate clearly to understand client needs and build meaningful connections. They also show their care and convey important information to both clients and organizations they partner with.

3. Critical Thinking 

Social workers act as advocates for crime suspects. Sometimes, they stand in for their clients as witnesses. This is a delicate duty that requires critical thinking to avoid breaking the law while serving their duties. 

In addition, social workers often represent the needs of the communities, families, and children they represent before organizations or government agencies to seek support for projects. Hence, to succeed in this role, a good social worker should be able to assess, analyze, and develop strategic solutions to different challenges faced by individuals and communities.

Other skills social workers should have include:

  • Patience
  • Resilience
  • Emotional Intelligence:
  • Psychology knowledge
  • Attention to detail

Salary Expectations Social worker’s

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for social workers in the United States was $50,560 in 2022. Salary expectation is always subject to different factors, like location, the type of social work, and your level of expertise. 


A career in social work offers the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of others. It offers a great space to give back to the community. Also, it gives room for intellectual challenges, personal growth, and the satisfaction of contributing to a more just and equitable society. If you’re driven by empathy, have strong communication and problem-solving skills, and possess a desire to advocate for those in need, then a career in social work might be your calling.

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