What Is Social Work?

Social workers help people with challenges in their daily lives. Social workers can have different kinds of clients, such as children, people with disabilities and people dealing with substance abuse.

Common day-to-day duties of a social worker include:

  • recognizing those who need help
  • evaluating clients and their individual situations
  • research and referring clients to resources in the community like food stamps, child care and healthcare
  • tracking and evaluating progress
  • helping clients work with government agencies
  • acting as an advocate for disadvantaged populations

Social workers perform their duties in a variety of practice settings. Social workers serve in the following environments: hospitals, clinics, schools, government agencies, military bases and hospitals, correctional facilities, child welfare agencies, substance abuse clinics and community health clinics.

Social Work Fields

The most common fields in social work are:

  • healthcare social workers
  • school social workers
  • clinical social workers
  • child and family social workers
  • mental health or substance abuse social workers

There are also sub-specialties in social work. Healthcare social workers, for example, can be divided into:

  • geriatric social workers
  • hospice and palliative care social workers
  • medical social workers

Getting Started with a Career in Social Work

A Bachelor of Social Work is the most common degree for entry-level positions in this field. This degree offers the most necessary skills and knowledge for beginning a career in social work. Some social work positions require a Master of Social Work degree. However, a bachelor’s degree in the field is not required to enter a master’s degree program in social work.