What is Social Work? 

Student working with three young people
Student working with young people

If you want a career with meaning, action, diversity, satisfaction, and an abundance of options, social work is for you!  Social workers are skilled professionals who work to empower individuals, relieve suffering, and affect social change.  They are generalists and specialist who work in a wide variety of settings but apply common core values, principles, and techniques. For sheer variety, few occupations can match social work and the broad range of opportunities and settings it offers.  Social workers work in mental health and healthcare, in child welfare and aging, in management and in clinical settings.  They work in hospitals, schools businesses, public agencies, police departments, private practices, and many other interesting workplaces.  They are mangers, therapists, community organizers, educators, and researchers.  They are on the front lines and behind the scenes.  They are in large cities and in small communities.  Wherever people are, social workers are.  [From:  National Association of Social Workers (2006). Choices: Careers in Social Work. Pg 2-3].

Social work is a distinctive profession that shares a commitment not only to work with individuals, families and small groups but also a commitment to institutional and societal change. As a profession, social workers maintain a primary commitment to disadvantaged, vulnerable, and economically deprived persons in our society. Social workers help people in dealing with relationships, solving problems and coping with the many social and environmental concerns which affect and control daily life. Historically, social workers led the fight for child labor laws, voting rights for women, and other progressive milestones. Social workers share a common set of professional values and ethics, and common set of basic or generic skills that enable them to work with diverse populations and fill diverse roles in a variety of settings.

How do I know if I’m suited to being a social worker?

Only you can truly make the decision about whether you have what it takes to be a social worker and whether it is something you want to do. The social work profession is suited to people who are flexible, socially and politically aware, self-motivated, eager to learn over a life time, desirous of personal growth, altruistic, comfortable with ambiguity, and interested in changing social conditions that are adverse to healthy human development, self-determination and social justice.