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

    • $1,364 Weekly Pay
    • 28,300 workers Employment Size
    • Very strong Future Growth
    • Very high skill Skill level rating
    • Average unemployment Unemployment
    • 63.7% Full-Time Full-Time Share
    • 33.6 hours Average full-time
    • 40.5 years Average age
    • 84.1% female Gender Share

    The number of Social Workers grew very strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to grow very strongly over the next 5 years:
    from 28,300 in 2017 to 34,700 by 2022.
    There are likely to be around 25,000 job openings over this time from workers leaving and new jobs being created.

    • Size: This is a large occupation.
    • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2017.
    • Location: Social Workers work in most regions of Australia.
    • Industries: Most work in Health Care and Social Assistance; Public Administration and Safety; and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services.
    • Earnings: Full-time workers earn 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.
    • Full-time: Many work full-time (63.7%, similar to the all jobs average of 68.4%).
    • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 33.6 hours per week at work (compared to the all jobs average of 40.0 hours).
    • Age: The average age is 41 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
    • Gender: 84.1% of workers are female (compared to the all jobs average of 46.7%).

    Employment Outlook

    Number of Workers

    Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2017 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2022.
    YearNumber of Workers
    200715000
    200816500
    200915400
    201018900
    201121400
    201222800
    201324000
    201430200
    201532600
    201626800
    201728300
    202234700

    Weekly Earnings

    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

    Main Industries

    Main Employing Industries (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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 Assistance70.9
    Public Administration and Safety21.5
    Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services1.8
    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services1.5
    Other Industries4.3

    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 2017, 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
    NSW18.731.6
    VIC36.026.2
    QLD16.319.7
    SA12.86.7
    WA9.210.8
    TAS2.02.0
    NT2.81.1
    ACT2.21.8

    Age Profile

    Age Profile (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2017, 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
    15-190.0-5.25.2
    20-241.7-9.99.9
    25-3434.0-23.623.6
    35-4424.8-21.721.7
    45-5420.9-20.820.8
    55-598.9-8.88.8
    60-648.1-6.06.0
    65 and Over1.5-4.04.0

    Education Level

    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.

    Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

    • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.
    • Compare Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, providers and student outcomes on the My Skills website.
    • You might be interested in Community Services VET training pathways on the AAPathways website.

    The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

    Knowledge

    These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

    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.

    Occupational Information Network
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 21-1022.00 - Healthcare Social Workers.

    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

    These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.

    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
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 21-1022.00 - Healthcare Social Workers.

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