How to Become a Social Work Assistant

The field of social work is often complex and professionals require support personnel to effectively meet the need of clients. Social work assistants are trained workers that assist professionals and perform a variety of tasks.


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What does a social work assistant do?

Social work assistants support social workers and other professionals and assist in performing duties in a variety of settings such as hospitals, community centers, residential care homes, and other facilities. They help professionals develop, organize, and implement programs to prevent and resolve a variety of issues. They contact clients, set up appointments, provide advice on available information and resources, and help clients fill out the necessary paperwork. They also provide the necessary support to families. Social work assistants work with a wide range of clients such as the elderly, children, families experiencing emotional issues, and clients with mental health and learning issues.

What kind of training does a social work assistant need?

Social work assistants must have at least a high school diploma or GED, but most employers seek applicants with postsecondary education or relevant work experience. Some social work assistants have postsecondary training in social work, human services, or other related field. Many aspiring social work assistants complete internships or volunteer experiences in social work environments to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers provide some type of on the job training to enable new social work assistants to learn the necessary polices and procedures. New assistants typically shadow experienced workers until they acquire the necessary skills. They often begin completing simple tasks and move on to more advanced duties as they gain experience. Social work assistants complete continuing education and additional training as needed throughout their careers.

What are the prospects for a career as a social work assistant?

Employment of social work assistants is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 23% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing and aging population and increased need for social services will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be excellent, especially for social work assistants with postsecondary education and sufficient work experience. Some job openings will stem from the need to replace social work assistants that leave the occupation.

How much do social work assistants make?

As of April 2010, the average annual salary for social work assistants is $46,000; average annual social work assistant salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a social work assistant is a great choice for people with a strong interest in social work. Social work assistants must have a solid understanding of the concepts and principles related to social services. Patience, understanding, detail orientation, critical thinking, and time management are necessary traits. Social work assistants must have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a variety of people. They must also be able to effectively work as part of a team.

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