Job Duties and Responsibilities of Social Workers

The job of a social worker is often a challenging one, helping people with difficulty coping to find mechanisms and skills which can better their lives and experiences.

For many, assisting families and individuals is only one aspect of the job, which can also include duties such as research, planning or policy development and advocacy for services and underprivileged people. Social work can be the kind of job that requires plenty of overtime, and separating the emotional aspect from the duties required can be a difficult undertaking.


There are many different types of social work within the field, all requiring a different set of skills and knowledge to be utilized in order to make the most difference. At the heart of all of these, however, is the respect for different circumstances. Social workers can be required to aid with issues directly caused by trauma, disability, poor family circumstances or abuse. Some social workers prefer to focus their skills on one area of expertise by going into specific fields.

  • Family, child or school social work involves being directly responsible for aiding a family or child in finding services or coping mechanisms to help them. These may include victims of abuse, neglect or other difficult family situations.
  • Public health social workers are often responsible for helping people who have been diagnosed with chronic, life threatening or altering diseases and disorders, helping connect patients with plans and resources in order to help them cope. These social workers are often employed at health care centers, assisted living homes or in hospitals.
  • Addictions and mental health social workers offer support and services to those struggling with unhealthy grounding techniques, connecting them with facilities that serve to teach healthier behaviors and get patients back on track.

Other Social Work Tasks

Administrative duties and paperwork are generally a must for social workers, no matter what their specialization. Social workers are generally employed from 9-5, but those who offer emergency services in hospitals and other areas can also be assigned shift work. For many social workers, outside visits and meetings are a constant challenge, as well as high case loads and understaffing. Many social workers find that despite challenges presented by these strains, this field is very satisfying as a career path.

In case you’re still unsure of what exactly a social worker does on a daily basis, check out the helpful list of tasks below to get a better idea of the job is all about, provide by O*NET OnLine:

  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients’ medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Plan discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients’ status.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.

Popular Online MSW Programs

University of Southern California — The University of Southern California offers a Master's of Social Work. The program is in the top 10 in the nation. To get into the program you need to complete an online application and include your resume, statement of purpose, recommendation letters, supplemental form and official transcripts.

Our Lady of the Lake University — The Master of Social Work program from Our Lady of the Lake University is designed for working professionals and students interested in social services leadership and advance direct practice. The program also emphasizes service to Hispanic families and communities. OLLU is a private, Catholic college located near San Antonio and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Walden University — If you are interested in an online MS in Social Psychology, Walden University has a program that can be completed in as few as 18 months. In this program you will explore the way individuals socially construct thoughts, attitudes, and feelings, and gain an understanding of how this affects behaviors.

University of New England — The Master of Social Work at the University of New England has an online option that offers comprehensive curriculum presented by compassionate, experienced faculty with the expertise and real-world knowledge to help you succeed. Courses include: Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Work Research I and II, and Social Welfare Policy and Programs.

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