what is a social worker?

Working as a social worker is a demanding profession that involves interacting with families and institutions to advance social impacts. As a social worker, you promote social change and development and empower communities. Sometimes you advocate for civil rights and raise awareness of mental health issues and child abuse.

Apart from community functions, a social worker enhances the overall well-being of individuals and helps them meet basic and complex needs. Social workers often work with orphans, patients with long-term ailments, seniors, mentally ill people and those with disabilities. They also address the social injustices that hinder a person's well-being, such as discrimination, physical or emotional abuse and substance abuse. While you work with diverse individuals, your focus is on the vulnerable, oppressed and poverty-stricken.

what does a social worker do?

Your job as a social worker involves participating in legislative processes that aid in policy formation. When protecting human rights, you may use legal powers and proceedings to balance the rights of the parties involved. When working with older people, your job is to ensure they receive the welfare support they need. Foster care institutions often have social workers to assist with fostering and providing ongoing support to children in the system. 

Would working as a social worker suit your advocacy skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a social worker role.

social worker jobs

average salary of a social worker

According to Payscale, the average salary of a social worker in India is around ₹300,000 per year when you are new to the profession. With experience and additional skills, you can earn up to ₹500,000 per year. The salary difference depends on the scope of the role and the complexity of your responsibilities. You take on complex duties when you have years of work experience, and your salary reflects these changes. As well as basic wages, social workers often earn various benefits in their compensation package. For instance, some institutions provide transport allowance, medical insurance and pension benefits. 

what factors affect the salary of a social worker?

Your salary as a social worker depends on the company or institution you work for and its size. For instance, large companies pay more than small institutions. Some non-governmental organisations depend on funds from donors to run programmes, which also affects your pay structure. Your compensation package also depends on whether the company is public or private. Social workers employed in the private sector are likely to earn more than those working for government institutions. Working in big cities with a high cost of living also increases your salary prospects compared to working in small towns with a low cost of living.

social worker jobs
social worker jobs

types of social worker

Social workers often specialise in a specific area of need. Some common specialisms include:

  • school social workers: you work with parents and teachers to deal with bullying, aggressive behaviour and frequent absences from school. You also develop strategies for improving social development and academic performance in schools.
  • child and family social worker: as a social worker, you assist families in need and protect vulnerable children. For instance, you help families find housing and apply for welfare programmes. You also intervene in family conflicts, cases of abuse and child neglect. 
  • healthcare social worker: you assist patients in transitioning from hospitals to their homes. You provide information, create support groups and carry out home visits. Sometimes you help them understand the diagnosis and advise on the lifestyle changes.
  • mental health and substance abuse social worker: social workers work with people with mental illness to provide information on services and help the family adjust to the diagnosis. You also form support groups for clients with addictions and help them recover.

working as a social worker

If you love championing people's rights and helping them improve their well-being, being a social worker is a fulfilling career. Read on for insight into your daily duties and responsibilities.


education and skills


There are two different routes to becoming a social worker:

  • university degree: you can join the social work field by completing an undergraduate degree in social work or related courses. A bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) is designed specifically for professional social work and will provide excellent job prospects. You can also complete a master's in social work for higher career progression.
  • work experience: while a suitable degree is advantageous, it is not strictly necessary. Working with charities or voluntary organisations may provide useful opportunities for on-the-job learning. With commitment and aptitude, you can build a career in social work from the ground up.

skills and competencies

Social workers need various skills to keep up with the demands of their profession. Some of the vital skills include:

  • empathy: as a social worker, you can understand your clients' experiences and step into their shoes. This enables you to accurately determine their needs and provide the most appropriate support.
  • communication: good communication skills are vital for social workers since they communicate with a diverse range of people. When advocating for your client's rights, it is crucial to communicate concisely with care providers and colleagues. Your understanding of verbal and non-verbal cues helps you better understand your clients.
  • critical thinking: as a social worker, you evaluate each case from the information gathered and client interviews. These skills also help you determine the best resources to assist your clients.
  • patience: social workers benefit from the patience to handle complex cases or assist clients who need longer periods to make progress. Patience also helps you avoid making mistakes that lead to poor outcomes.

FAQs about working as a social worker

Here are some common questions about working as a social worker:

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