Social Workers assess the social needs of individuals, families and groups, assist and empower people to develop and use the skills and resources needed to resolve social and other problems, and further human wellbeing and human rights, social justice and social development.

A Bachelor Degree or higher is usually required and over four in five workers have a university degree. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification. Registration or licensing may be required.

Tasks

  • acting as a facilitator between clients in need and community services
  • assessing resources for health, welfare, recreation, housing, employment and other community services
  • providing leadership and assistance for the implementation of pilot projects in community development and self-help, and planning and implementing research projects to address client needs, organisation goals and social policy
  • cooperating with community organisations, social agencies and voluntary groups to improve services and develop new services
  • conducting individual and family case interviews to identify the nature and extent of clients' problems
  • assisting clients to understand and resolve problems by providing information, acting as a mediator and referring them to community and self-help agencies
  • analysing, developing, promoting and implementing social policies through the use of practice experience, research, analytic frameworks, and negotiation skills to respond to social need through a fair, equitable and effective allocation of social resource
  • monitoring the progress of clients by maintaining contact
  • compiling case records and reports

Job Titles

  • Social Worker

    Fast Facts

    • Avg. Weekly Pay

      $1,364 Before Tax
    • Future Growth

      very strong
    • Skill Level

      Bachelor Degree or higher
    • Employment Size

      30800
    • Unemployment

      average
    • Male Share

      11.4%
    • Female Share

      88.6%
    • Full-Time Share

      69.3%

    Find Vacancies

    This is a large occupation employing 30,800 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has grown strongly.
    Very strong growth is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create between 25,001 and 50,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

    • Social Workers work in most parts of Australia.
    • They mainly work in: Health Care and Social Assistance; Public Administration and Safety; and Other Services.
    • Full-time work is fairly common. Full-time workers, on average, work 35.5 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
    • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $1,364 per week (higher than the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
    • The average age is 41 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
    • Around 9 in 10 workers are female.
    • In 2016, the unemployment rate was similar to the average.

    Employment Outlook

    Number of Workers

    Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
    YearNumber of Workers
    200512800
    200614200
    200715900
    200817200
    200917900
    201021500
    201120800
    201225100
    201329000
    201432100
    201530800
    202039500

    Weekly Earnings

    Full-time Earnings

    All Jobs Average

    Weekly Earnings (before tax)

    Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
    EarningsSocial WorkersAll Jobs Average
    Full-Time Earnings13641230

    Hours

    Weekly Hours Worked

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
    CategorySocial WorkersAll Jobs Average
    Full-time69.368.4
    Part-time30.731.6
    Average Weekly Hours (full-time)35.540

    Main Industries

    Top Industries

    Main Employing Industries (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
    Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
    Health Care and Social Assistance70.1
    Public Administration and Safety25.4
    Other Services1.3
    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services1.2
    Other Industries2

    States and Territories

    • NSW

    • VIC

    • QLD

    • SA

    • TAS

    • NT

    • ACT

    Employment by State and Territory (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    StateSocial WorkersAll Jobs Average
    NSW28.331.8
    VIC29.825.5
    QLD12.819.8
    SA14.16.8
    WA8.911.2
    TAS22
    NT2.81.1
    ACT1.41.8

    Age Profile

    Age Profile (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    Age BracketSocial WorkersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    15-190-5.45.4
    20-244.4-9.99.9
    25-3426.8-23.423.4
    35-4426.7-21.721.7
    45-5423.5-21.121.1
    55-5910.4-8.78.7
    60-644.8-5.95.9
    65 and Over3.4-3.83.8

    Gender

    Male Share

    Female Share

    Gender (% share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    CategorySocial WorkersCategoryAll Jobs Average
    Males11.4Males53.6
    Females88.6Females46.4

    Education Level

    Top Education Levels

    Highest Level of Education (% share)

    Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
    Type of QualificationSocial WorkersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate25.5-8.68.6
    Bachelor degree62.1-17.917.9
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma8.9-10.110.1
    Certificate III/IV0-18.918.9
    Year 120-18.718.7
    Years 11 & 103.4-17.717.7
    Below Year 100-8.18.1

    A Bachelor Degree or higher is usually required and over four in five workers have a university degree. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is needed in addition to a qualification. Registration or licensing may be required.

    If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
    The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

    It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

    Employers look for Social Workers who are responsible and independent, yet who can also work well in a team.

    Knowledge

    The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

    1. Therapy and Counseling

      100% Important

      Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.

    2. Psychology

      99% Important

      Human behaviour and performance; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioural and affective disorders.

    3. English Language

      90% Important

      English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    4. Customer and Personal Service

      89% Important

      Customer and personal services. This includes understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.

    5. Sociology and Anthropology

      80% Important

      Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

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    Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

    Activities

    The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

    1. Getting Information

      95% Important

      Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

    2. Assisting and Caring for Others

      94% Important

      Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support to people such as co-workers, customers, or patients.

    3. Building Good Relationships

      91% Important

      Building and keeping constructive and cooperative working relationships with others.

    4. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

      91% Important

      Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

    5. Making Decisions and Solving Problems

      90% Important

      Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.

    Occupational Information Network Medical and Public Health Social Workers Opens in a new window
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

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