What does a Social Worker do?

Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. They provide counseling and services to clients and work to improve social conditions. They often work with persons who are homeless, unemployed, disabled, seriously ill, mentally ill or handicapped. They assist people of all ages with emotional and physical illness, behavior management, substance abuse, child/spouse abuse and other issues.

What might a Social Worker do in a workday?

Social workers:

  • interview and counsel individuals, families and groups regarding their concerns.
  • assess needs and then plan, develop, implement, oversee and evaluate programs and activities designed to meet those needs.
  • help people obtain community services, education and job training.
  • refer clients to other professional or community resources.
  • coordinate or work with civic, religious, business and union organizations to combat social problems through community programs.
  • advocate positive social and institutional change.

Developing a Career as a Social Worker

Social workers may specialize in areas such as health care; mental health; occupational, family and child welfare; adult and juvenile justice; aging studies; school social work; substance abuse; or physical disability. Social workers find employment in a variety of settings, such as agency offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, group homes, learning centers, schools, prisons, businesses or courts of law. Some work independently, while others practice as part of treatment teams that include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, therapists, teachers, clergy and other professionals.

How much salary do Social Workers make?

Annual Mean Wage

How do I become a Social Worker?

Students interested in becoming social workers should prepare by taking the most challenging high school courses available in science, English and math, including advanced placement courses.

Social workers must earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited school of social work. In order to become licensed in Virginia, two years of post-master’s (M.S.W.) work experience and a passing score on an examination must be completed.

Where else can I learn about becoming a Social Worker?

Professional Associations

National Association of Social Workers
Virginia Chapter
4860 Cox Rd
Suite 200
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 204-1339

National Association of Social Workers
750 First Street, N.E.
Suite 800
Washington, DC 20002-4241
(202) 408-8600

State License Requirements for Social Workers

A license is required to practice social work in the state of Virginia. For more information on licensure, applications and forms, visit www.dhp.virginia.gov/social.

Board of Social Work
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233-1463
Phone: (804) 367-4441
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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