A career in social work requires strong interpersonal skills, considerable empathy, and a desire to help others and make a difference in the community. Social workers are employed in a wide variety of occupational settings, including schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, correctional facilities, child welfare agencies, substance abuse clinics, and state and local governments. Social workers often choose to specialize in particular areas, but in general they are responsible for working with people in need and helping them identify ways to adjust to their challenges and improve their well-being. In addition to strong organizational skills, social workers need to be able to communicate sensitively with clients in difficult situations. Careers in social work, while challenging, can be richly rewarding because the efforts of social workers go towards directly helping others.
Many social workers receive a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field for entry-level positions. Some employers require master’s degrees in social work, while others may require several years of supervised, post-master’s clinical work. All states require some sort of licensing or certification, and all states require certain specialties, including clinical social workers, to be licensed.
In order to succeed, social workers need to possess general intelligence and problem solving skills, as well as compassionate, service oriented attitudes. Two tests employers often administer to candidates for social work positions are the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) and the Customer Service Aptitude Profile (CSAP). The CCAT assesses general aptitude through problem solving, critical thinking, and the ability to learn new information. The CSAP, on the other hand, is a personality assessment that measures how well-suited a candidate’s personality traits are for working with people in a patient and diplomatic manner.
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Rank in HireSelect:
197 out of 1,100
Median wage in U.S.:
Expected growth rate 2012-2022:
Number employed (2014): 603,300