what is a social worker?

A social worker works in social care and helps families, communities, and individuals deal with various challenges affecting their mental, physical and social wellbeing. You can work as a social worker in a community health centre, government department, and court system. You meet with people facing mental health problems, homelessness and family violence. Your role is to offer support like basic needs, shelters and counsellors or link them with the necessary resources. You also help students and young children deal with anxiety and depression caused by family problems. Unlike a therapist who solves mental issues, your job is to engage with and mobilise people to solve their problems.

You also contribute to policy planning and development projects as a social worker. Since you interact with communities facing various challenges, you can recommend to government officials the best ways to improve social welfare. In Australia, social workers work based on the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) principles. According to the representative body, you should embody the core values of social work like professional integrity, social justice and respect for people.

social worker roles available

average salary of a social worker

According to Job Outlook, the average weekly pay of a social worker is $1,829, which is above the government median wage. The average annual salary is $90,000, but the amount fluctuates depending on your skills and level of education. Social workers can boost their salary prospects with specialised training in mental health or drug abuse.

In addition to your primary salary, you also receive medical and transport allowances. Other benefits include paid annual leave days and contributions to a pension scheme.

what factors affect the salary of a social worker?

The higher and more specialised your training is the better your earnings. For instance, getting a master's in social work improves your pay. Specialities like mental health and drug abuse also pay more due to the high demand. Aside from education, your experience level influences your compensation package. With years of experience, you can expect higher salaries and better benefits.

Besides, you will have a supervisory role with better employment terms. Some geographical locations attract better wages due to the high cost of living and higher demand for social workers. Large cities usually require more social workers than smaller towns. Hence the salary prospects are better in metro areas and large cities.

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social worker salary

types of social workers

Some of the types of social workers include:

child and family social worker

  • Your job is to evaluate the school and home environment for children and their parents. You ensure the parents and school administration uphold the welfare of a child. Sometimes, you must remove a child from school or home if the environment is abusive and unsafe to grow and learn. You also work with victims of domestic abuse and help them move on with their lives.

mental health social worker

  • Your job is to reach out to patients with mental illness or drug abuse problems and help them overcome their challenges. You can help them find rehabilitation facilities and therapy programs to solve their issues. Mental health social workers work from rehabilitation centres, community organisations and government agencies.

medical and public health social worker

  • As a social worker, you help people with chronic illnesses to navigate medical care. You ensure patients can afford the treatment or find pocket-friendly treatment options. In public health, you educate people on the spread of various diseases and available immunisations.

community social worker

  • Your job is to promote peace and fight for social justice in various neighbourhoods. You are also in charge of community facilities like communal spaces for social programs like drug abuse support groups.

working as a social worker

Social work is a rewarding career if you love helping people and improving their well-being. Curious about what a social worker does daily? Read on for insights on a social worker's work schedule and responsibilities.

social worker job description

Social workers have diverse roles depending on the employer and specialism. Some standard duties of a social worker include:

  • assessment of a family or child's condition: as a social worker, you must assess your clients, from their living conditions to mental health and social life. When dealing with kids, you should speak to adults in their lives to understand their situation. Thorough evaluation ensures you provide the best assistance and help them improve their wellbeing. It is crucial to document your findings, and you can refer to them when creating a treatment plan.
  • Assisting with recovery: after the initial evaluation, you can identify the best way to help your client. For instance, if it is a victim of abuse, you should help them find legal options and treatment plans to help them move on with life. If your client has a drug abuse or mental health problems, you assist them with the treatment options within their budget. Creating a recovery plan and goals for your clients helps them focus on the essential things in life.
  • Securing resources for your clients: as a social worker, it is not enough to create a treatment plan. Since most of your clients are needy, you must help them secure the resources to improve their lives. For instance, you can refer homeless families to shelters and help them secure jobs. You also assist recovering addicts in finding community support groups that allow them to meet their wellness initiatives.
  • Monitoring for improvement: as a social worker, you provide continued support to your clients to ensure they move towards the goals you set together. If they face further challenges, you can find alternative ways of dealing with the problem.
  • Advocating for individuals or families experiencing social injustice: you need to support your clients through petitioning for policy changes. You can request additional resources to help a community facing challenging physical conditions.

work environment

A social worker works both indoors and outdoors. Indoor work environments are usually well-lit and ventilated. When working from your office, your main tasks involve going through paperwork. You may also work in hospitals or rehabilitation centres. You will work outdoors when visiting clients in community centres or attending events.

who are your colleagues?

Depending on your employer and the industry you work in, your colleagues might include nurses, deputy home care managers and counsellors. You might also be working close to librarians and education aides, as well as other specialists that could consist of, but not be limited to, teachers, therapists, lecturers, and other allied health professionals.

work schedule

Social workers work an average of 38 hours a week in full-time positions. Some organisations offer flexible work arrangements, and you can work part-time. Sometimes you have to work overtime in the evenings or weekends if your client needs immediate help. The job involves travelling to visit clients and attend community programs.

job outlook

Working as a social worker is a rewarding career with promising job prospects. For instance, the job growth rate is 15.2% in the next five years. According to the ABS Labour Force Survey, social workers will increase to 34,600 by 2025 from 30,000 in 2020. Aside from the job growth rate, you also have numerous specialisms and career progression options. For instance, you can become a mental health or drug abuse therapist with additional training. Alternatively, become a home care manager for nursing homes or rehabilitation centres. Some social workers go to teaching roles like lecturing social workers.

advantages of finding a social worker job through randstad

Finding your social worker job through Randstad provides essential advantages such as:

  • a wide variety of training and development opportunities
  • an experienced contact person to provide help if needed
  • a range of options in your area
  • get paid weekly or monthly, depending on the job
  • temporary and permanent contracts

Want a permanent contract? A temporary job as a social worker is often a stepping stone to an attractive permanent career. Thousands of people earn a permanent contract with great employers every year thanks to a temporary job found through Randstad. What's more, many companies recruit their permanent employees through Randstad too.


education and skills

Join the social worker career through the following methods:

  • university degree: the minimum requirement for becoming a social worker is a degree in social work accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). You learn about social work and various ways to provide social care in the four-year program. Some social workers also get a post-graduate degree in a speciality field to improve their job prospects. You can undertake a master's in social work or other specialisms like mental health or drug abuse rehabilitation.
  • Work experience: becoming a social worker is challenging, and counselling experience may be handy. During your bachelor's degree training, you can volunteer in community organisations to gain counselling experience. It will help you learn how to connect with various clients and get them to open up and share their problems. Internships also improve your job prospects, and you can determine your specialism early.
  • Certification and membership: when you have a degree, you should apply for AASW membership. Accreditation from the professional body improves your competitiveness and connects you with various social workers.

skills and competencies

As a social worker, you will need the following soft skills:

  • Empathy: to understand what your client or patient is going through, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Empathy helps you understand a client's situation, which is vital as a social worker. With compassion, you can accurately point out your client's issues and provide suitable resources to help them overcome the problems.
  • Communication and people skills: as a social worker, you communicate with various people daily, from clients and their families to healthcare providers, co-workers and insurance companies. Good communication skills enable you to address every person you meet appropriately. You will also have difficult conversations and break sad news without sounding impersonal. People skills are crucial when collaborating with various co-workers.
  • Critical thinking skills: in social work, each case is unique and requires a customised approach. That's why you need necessary thinking skills. After the initial assessment, you need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each course to find the perfect solution for your client's problems.
  • Cultural sensitivity: as a social worker, you need to understand different cultures and their impact on a person's experience. When culturally sensitive, you can provide appropriate resources to clients without prejudice or going against their beliefs.

FAQs about working as a social worker

Here are the most asked questions about working as a social worker:

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