Social Worker Job Outlook

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A growth rate of 19% is predicted

Social workers held 607,300 jobs in 2012, and the job market is predicted to grow at a rate of 19% from 2012 to 2020, incorporating 114,100 additional jobs. These data are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The work completed in this is field is driven by an increased demand for healthcare and social services providing steady job security.

Compassion, strong interpersonal, listening and organizational skills are just a few of the qualities required to become a successful social worker, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In this profession, employees work to help people solve and cope with problems that may arise in their everyday lives.

Social Worker Job OutlookPrimary Responsibilities

Social workers help identify people in need of assistance and assess their particular needs, situation, strengths and network of support in order to determine beneficial objectives. With their client’s necessities in mind, social workers often conduct research and refer clients to community resources including food stamps, child care and healthcare.

Aside from advocating for the help a client needs, social workers respond to crisis situations such as child abuse, follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved, and evaluate the services provided to ensure that they are effective in supporting the patient. The primary task of the social work profession is to enhance overall human well-being and to help meet the basic needs of all people. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, particular attention is paid to those who are living in poverty, and who are vulnerable or oppressed.

Specialty Areas

Social workers generally work in seven primary areas or settings. One type of social work focuses on children and families. Social workers in this specialty seek to protect vulnerable children and help parents find services such as child care and benefit programs. Child and family social workers also intervene in child abuse circumstances, help to arrange adoptions, locate foster families or bring families back together.

Clinical social workers diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional disorders in combination with providing individual, group, family and couples counseling. Social workers in this specialty tend to work in private practices and refer clients to outside resources or services when appropriate. Similarly, medical social workers help patients and their families by linking patients with resources in the hospital and in their own community by making referrals, facilitating support groups and conducting follow-up visits.

School social workers communicate with teachers, parents and school administrators to help improve students’ academic success and social development. Their interventions and strategies may target aggressive behavior, bullying or frequent absences from school. Healthcare social workers help patients understand diagnoses and make lifestyle adjustments, and work to assist clients in coping with illness and disease and its effects.

Social workers in mental health and substance abuse settings aid assist clients with mental illness or addictions and often use support groups or 12-step programs. Geriatric social workers help older adults and their families find home healthcare, provide assisted living information or to help make plans for possible health complications. If conditions are severe enough, hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic or terminal illness and can find appropriate support groups or grief counselors to help their clients cope.

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Lindsey Nolen

Lindsey Nolen is a former staff writer at ADVANCE.

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