What Are the Real Responsibilities of a Social Worker?


Social Worker Duties, Values, and Job Description – Everything You Need to Know

Social workers help individuals, families, and communities overcome challenging problems, and the duties of a social worker can vary according to their level of experience and the field of social work that they work within.

For example, those with children’s social worker jobs may help remove children from dangerous or neglectful home situations. Professionals working in school social worker jobs may counsel at-risk youth to help them stay in school.

Becoming a social worker in a hospital or medical setting can have the responsibility of matching patients with financial and after-care services during their discharge. Above all else, social work values helping people in their time of need, no matter the setting.

social worker job description

What qualifications do I need to be a social worker?

Why become a social worker and what can you expect social worker responsibilities to look like?

In this article we’ll review the social worker job description, the answer to “what qualifications do you need to be a social worker,” and social workers’ duties and responsibilities.

We’ll also look at school social worker jobs because children’s social work jobs are some of the most popular types of social work that people are interested in.


Table of Contents

Keep on scrolling down this page to read each section, or click any link below to go directly to that section.

  1. Overview: Social Worker Description
  2. Social Work Values. What are They Really About?
  3. Why Should You Become a Social Worker? What’s in it for You?
  4. What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Social Worker?
  5. General Social Workers Duties and Responsibilities from Real Job Postings
  6. School Social Worker Jobs – What You Need to Know

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Do you have any questions about this social work values & responsibilities of a social worker guide? Contact us and let us know. 


Overview: Social Worker Description

Social workers help enhance human well-being by assisting people with basic and complex needs for improving their lives. To effectively help people, one of the important social worker duties is being able to assess a person for their physical, emotional, and other support needs.

Becoming a social worker involves learning how to identify those needs, and providing assistance directly and through referrals to other resources. In many situations, the duties of a social worker will include coordinating with other caregivers and support agencies to find the resources required to help someone improve their lives and overcome a problem.

Key Social Workers Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Doing assessments of clients and patients to identify needs
  • Diagnosing emotional or mental issues (licensed social workers)
  • Interviewing and researching clients to build a case report
  • Coordinating with other people or agencies for a client’s care plan
  • Providing support and counseling to individuals, families, and groups
  • Carrying out care plans to help a client through a crisis
  • Creating and managing client case files
  • Providing referrals to appropriate agencies
  • Advocating on behalf of the client to get them the assistance they need
  • Coordinating ongoing follow-up with clients as needed

Find social worker assessment templates, checklists, and other tools that will help you carry out common social worker duties. Check out the AGS Social Worker Assessment Toolkit.


Social Work Values. What are They Really About?

If you’re considering becoming a social worker, you’ll want to learn the main principles and social work values as laid out by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

These social work values provide a framework from which all social workers operate, whether they have medical social worker jobs, school social worker jobs, community social worker jobs, or others.

Behind each of the social work values are ethical principles that exemplify that value.

6 Key Social Work Values and Ethical Principles:

  • Service: The primary goal in any social worker description is to help people in need and address social problems.
  • Social Justice: One of the responsibilities of a social worker is to challenge social injustice.
  • Dignity & Worth of the Person: One of the important social worker duties is to respect the inherent dignity and worth of each person they work with.
  • Importance of Human Relationships: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships in all social work stages.
  • Integrity: Anyone becoming a social worker should expect to behave in a trustworthy manner as much trust is placed in them.
  • Competence: The social worker description includes the social worker acting in their areas of competence and developing their professional expertise.

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Do you have any questions or feedback related to the question, “What qualifications do you need to be a social worker?” or children’s social work jobs? If so, click here to contact us.


Why Should You Become a Social Worker? What’s in it for You?

There are many different occupations out there to choose from where you are not faced with daily emotional trauma and challenges to solve for people. Why become a social worker?

One simple explanation from a social worker, D’atra Franklin is “I have a passion and need to help people.” This is a common reason that people become social workers. They want to help people or communities in need and gain satisfaction from being of service to others.

Where Do Social Workers Work?

Another answer to “why become a social worker” is that you can help people in many different settings. You’re not tied to applying your learned social work values in one area but rather can work everywhere from the educational system to the corporate world.

You have options! Social worker responsibilities and roles apply for the following types of occupations:

  • School social worker jobs
  • Hospital social worker jobs
  • Military/veteran social worker jobs
  • Eldercare social worker jobs
  • Hospice social worker jobs
  • Higher education system social worker jobs
  • Corporate employee wellbeing social worker jobs
  • Foster Care child social worker jobs
  • Home health/support social worker jobs
  • And many more

When answering, “Where do social workers work?” we should also note that there are several job opportunities outside of social work that your social work degree and experience can qualify you for.

Where do social workers work that is not as a social worker? Their experience can lead them to jobs, such as a human resources manager, community organizer, college admissions counselor, diversity and inclusion specialist, college professor, or high school counselor.

What qualifications do you need to be a social worker? The section below covers what you need to know about the qualifications required to be a social worker. Contact us if you have any more questions about this guide.


What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Social Worker?

Whether you are looking for medical social worker jobs, children’s social worker jobs, or jobs in any other areas of social work, you’ll need to meet some qualifications.

If you’ve ever searched, “What qualifications do I need to be a social worker,” then you’ll likely have run across both educational requirements and “soft skills” or personality qualifications that help someone better carry out the duties of a social worker.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Social Worker? | Educational

  • Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), in some cases, you can have a degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field instead.
  • Some social worker responsibilities require a master’s degree in social work (MSW)
  • More advanced social worker duties require being a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Social Worker? | Soft Skills

These soft skills aren’t all prerequisites to becoming a social worker; however, you may run across them when looking at a social worker description if looking for school social worker jobs or other social worker jobs.

  • Good communication
  • Active listening skills
  • Capacity for being empathetic
  • Strong desire to help others
  • Organizational skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Collaboration/Ability to work well with others

Searching for Software Tools to Help Carry Out the Responsibilities of a Social Worker?

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AGS has easy-to-use, social work assessment software and templates you can use.

Learn More About AGS 360° Social Work Assessment Toolkit


General Social Workers Duties and Responsibilities from Real Job Postings

We’ve touched on some of the general responsibilities of a social worker above. They cover many different social work stages and social work job types.

In this section, we’ll provide more details on the duties of a social worker as found in actual job postings for medical social worker jobs, school social worker jobs, hospice social work jobs, family and child social worker jobs, and others.

Knowing how employers define their answer to, “What qualifications do I need to be a social worker?” provides the most accurate picture of what to expect for social worker duties.

The following social worker responsibilities were sourced from social worker job listings on Indeed.

  • Engage clients in group therapy and a range of therapeutic activities
  • Help clients achieve success in homes, schools, and communities
  • Collaborate with others to help fulfill client needs
  • Provide behavior interventions
  • Assist in planning, developing, organizing, and evaluating social service programs
  • Provide emotional support to those in need
  • Connect clients to on-site resources
  • Provide screening, assessment, planning, and problem resolution
  • Provide resource management, social work case services, counseling, and crisis management
  • Document accurate care narratives
  • Meet with clients and families regularly to provide quality counseling and assess needs
  • Identify needs and provide referrals to appropriate support agencies

Do you have more questions about the duties of a social worker? Contact us to let us know.


School Social Worker Jobs – What You Need to Know

When searching out information like, “Where do social workers work?” and “In what types of jobs can I leverage social worker values?”, you’ll find that many of the jobs you find will be connected to children, families, and schools.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a chart that shows employment numbers by social work type, and the largest area of employment, with over 300,000 jobs, includes child, family, and school social worker jobs.

School, family, and child social worker jobs will focus on a child’s health and wellbeing. This field can include both crisis situations where a social worker may have to go into a home and take a child out, and school social worker jobs where social workers may provide counseling and mental health services to students.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused even more need for people filling school and children’s social worker jobs. Many students are in more need of mental health support than ever due to the switch between remote and in-person learning and the lack of a consistent school environment during the pandemic years.

If you’re wondering, “Where do social workers work in the educational environment?”, here are the types of school social worker jobs currently being advertised:

  • High School Mental Health Counselor
  • School Social Worker
  • School-based Behavioral Health Liaison
  • College Admissions Counselor for High School
  • Online School-Based Social Worker
  • School Counselor/Social Worker
  • School Social Worker – Classroom Support
  • Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) Social Worker
  • School Police Social Worker
  • Family Services Social Worker – School-Based
  • Substitute School Social Worker (Leave Replacement)
  • School-Based Mental Health Therapist
  • Onsite Case Investigator – COVID School Liaison

Conclusion | Job Duties & Responsibilities of a Social Worker

Those interested in becoming social workers typically have a big heart and a desire to help others. Taking on the education and responsibilities of a social worker can open up a wide range of options for working environments.

As you go through higher education social work stages to earn your degree and certification, you’ll find that more social worker responsibilities and opportunities are available to you, such as the ability to diagnose emotional and mental issues and provide therapeutic services.

Understanding the core social work values and key social work duties will provide you with the foundation you need to explore a successful career in the social work field.


Social Worker Responsibilities | FAQs

What are the social work values?

If you’re considering becoming a social worker, you’ll want to learn the main principles and social work values as laid out by the National Association of Social Workers.

These social work values provide a framework from which all social workers operate.

6 Key Social Work Values:

• Service
• Social Justice
• Dignity & Worth of the Person
• Importance of Human Relationships
• Integrity
• Competence

Why become a social worker?

There are many different occupations out there to choose from where you are not faced with daily emotional trauma and challenges to solve for people. Why become a social worker?

One simple explanation from social worker, D’atra Franklin is “I have a passion and need to help people.” This is a common reason that people become social workers. They want to help people or communities in need and gain satisfaction from being of service to others.

What qualifications do I need to be a social worker?

• Bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), in some cases, you can have a degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field instead.
• Some social worker responsibilities require a master’s degree in social work (MSW)
• More advanced social worker duties require being a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

What are common social worker responsibilities?

Social workers help enhance human well-being by assisting people with basic needs for enhancing their lives. To effectively help people one of the important social worker duties is being able to assess a person for their physical, emotional, and other support needs.

Key Social Workers Duties and Responsibilities:

• Doing assessments of clients and patients to identify needs
• Diagnosing emotional or mental issues (licensed social workers)
• Interviewing and researching clients to build a case report
• Coordinating with other people or agencies for client’s care plan
• Providing support and counseling to individuals, families, and groups
• Carrying out care plans to help a client through a crisis
• Creating and managing client case files
• Providing referrals to appropriate agencies
• Advocating on behalf of the client to get them the assistance they need
• Coordinating ongoing follow-up with clients as needed


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