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Skills & qualifications needed to become a social worker

Social workers assist others by helping them deal with issues affecting their everyday life, such as problems with relationships, unemployment, disabilities, social dysfunction, domestic conflicts and abuse.

As a social worker, you may be responsible for conducting therapy sessions, advocating for improved services, arranging adoptions and assessing behaviour problems. There are many types of social workers who specialise in various social and clinical issues. Opportunities are available as counsellors, caseworkers, clinical social workers, child welfare workers, counsellors and group home workers.


A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for working as a social worker. These are four-year degree programs that require students to take courses in psychology, sociology, human behaviour and public policy. Those with a bachelor’s degree can find career opportunities with government agencies, not-for-profit organisations or community centres.

A master of social work (MSW) offers social workers an opportunity to work in clinical settings, such as hospitals, private practices and mental health clinics. An MSW is two years and requires students to complete at least 900 hours of supervised instruction.


Prospective social workers must earn licensure with their state, which may require them to complete an examination and a certain number of supervised hours working in the field.

To be eligible for a social work license, a candidate must have graduated from an accredited university, participated in a social work practicum, passed a background check and completed the application. This examination ensures that candidates understand and adhere to a code of ethics when working with clients, and any violation would mean that their license and ability to work in this field would be revoked.


Social workers need to be able to withstand the emotional toll that comes with this profession. It’s important for social workers to remain objective, while providing guidance and assistance. Social workers must be resourceful and find ways to use government agencies and organisations to help improve a client’s life through education, safety, employment and food. This profession requires individuals to be responsible and have a need to help others living through difficult circumstances.