Are you interested in working with the elderly, the poor, the mentally handicapped or the sick?

If you are not a trained social worker, but are interested in working in this field, you may wish to start out as a social worker assistant. This is a fulfilling career for people who enjoy helping others. Some assistants remain in this position throughout their lives, while others use the experience they get as trainees as part of their life plan to prepare for employment opportunities in a wide variety of qualified social worker jobs. Whichever your case may be, working as an assistant is a career that currently is in high demand, and the demand is expected to grow significantly in the future. This is because of our aging population and an increasing need for mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Assistant Social Workers may help the elderly

What Does an Assistant Social Worker Do?

They might work as a therapeutic aide under the supervision of a qualified social worker, psychiatrist, nurse or someone else in the medical community. They work in social service worker jobs in hospitals and residential care homes. In addition, someone in this field might work with children, the elderly, and families in crisis, or adults with learning or mental health problems. They could also work as a community outreach worker, as a life skill counselor, or a case manager. There are also medical jobs in which you might work with families who have loved ones in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility. Whatever group the assistant social worker is handling, they would provide advice about available resources. For example, you might help people access government programs that they are not aware of … such as food stamps, welfare, public housing, or disaster grants.

Other assistant social workers may work in group homes, homeless shelters, or day programs. They may help people with everyday living skills. If you work in this field, you may help people complete paperwork to apply for available social services. Or, you may work with people in a half-way house for recovering addicts.

If you want to learn the full scope of the occupations that are available to people in this field, you may want to use this quick link to Amazon books about careers in social work.  You may be surprised at the number of different occupations that are possible.

Where would You Find a Job?

Assistant social worker jobs are often found in the state or county government social services departments in the state where you live. However, they can also work in clinics, shelters, group homes, halfway houses or even travel to personal residences. Usually they work a 40 hour week, normally Monday through Friday. However, if they work in a treatment center, hospital or halfway house, they may work weekends or evenings. The workloads can be emotionally draining and cause stress for some people. Others find the work extremely rewarding and satisfying.

What Education do you need?

The best preparation to be an assistant in this field is to get a certificate or associate degree in human services, gerontology, social science or a similar behavioral science. Most assistants continue their education while they work at the trainee level. However, this is not typically a requirement. Most also receive on-the-job training after they are hired.

More advanced opportunities in social work are available for people with four year college degrees in psychology, counseling, rehabilitation or social work. Often people who are studying for their Masters Degree will seek employment as an assistant until they meet the requirements to be employed as a qualified Social Worker.

Assistants usually work with the public and need to be able to communicate clearly. They also need to enjoy helping others. People working in this field require patience and understanding, since they may often deal with people who are uneducated, sick, mentally ill, or suffering from a personal crisis.

How Much Money Can You Earn?

Assistants can earn about $26,000 to $38,000, depending on their duties and the part of the country where they work. In general, those who work for a State Department of Social Services are likely to earn the most. Those who work in facilities for the mentally retarded or substance abusers seem to earn the least. However, overall pay is also affected by the region of the country where you live. For example, when ERI Economic Research Institute did a compensation survey, they discovered that assistants in Phoenix, Arizona earned about $29,500 while those in Boston, Massachusetts earned about $38,000.

If you take a position as a trainee with the intent of continuing your education, your opportunity for higher pay in the future will increase significantly.

For more information on finding a job, or other job opportunities, you may also want to read:

Medical Assistant Careers in Demand

Find a Job as a Home Health Care Aide

You Can Have a Career as a School Paraeducator or Teacher's Aide

Preparing for Job Interviews


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Learn More about the Available Careers

101 Careers in Social Work
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You may discover that there are careers in Social Work that you never knew ever existed. This book will broaden your impression of this field.