What Does a Social Worker Do and What Are His or Her Roles?

If you have a natural talent for helping people and want to turn your passion into a career, consider the benefits of social work professions. You may be wondering, what is a social worker? What does a social worker do in a typical day, and what type of role do they play in an agency or organization? Social workers are directly involved with all types of people who need assistance dealing with personal problems, and can also provide counseling services for those who want to improve their lives. It is naturally a field of nurturing and guiding others, and these professionals are trained to use a number of local and national resources that may assist their clients. Social workers typically have at least a bachelor's degree but have a master's degree or advanced training in a specific specialty.

What Exactly Is a Social Worker?

Social workers are employed by a number of healthcare organizations, government organizations, and private agencies. They typically work in hospital settings, mental health clinics, government offices, or in private clinics to provide counseling and support for their clients. They may specialize in certain areas such as relationship problems, domestic violence, financial assistance, and psychology. The primary role of a social worker is to:

  • Serve as an advocate for new clients
  • Connect clients with essential resources within their community
  • Educate clients and help them learn new skills
  • Make sure that the clients' best interests are protected
  • Solve common social problems affecting their community
  • Provide counseling and support services for those in need of assistance

What is Social Work and What Do Social Workers Do?

The role of a social worker isn't always readily defined because many take on a variety of duties and responsibilities over the course of their careers. Social workers are focused primarily on helping people improve their lives, whether this is in a clinical setting or in a non-clinical environment. Most social workers specialize in a particular field or area to provide services to a specific group or clients. For example, some work in health services or for educational institutions; others might work for private agencies or only with clients struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. Some work in school settings to assist children and families with social and emotional issues. Others might work with foster children and adoptive parents to provide support and counseling for those struggling with emotional issues, addictions, and behavioral problems.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that most social workers are employed by health care organizations and also work in the social assistance sector. Some are employed by government agencies at the state and local levels.

The field of social work can be a very rewarding profession for individuals who enjoy solving problems and working with people. Social workers typically have an innate talent for understanding people and may have an educational background in psychology. Those who don't have a bachelor's degree in social work can still pursue a master's degree in social work as long as they have completed some psychology, sociology, and related subjects at the undergraduate level.