Careers – Social Worker

Consider a Career as a Social Worker

What is Social Work?

Social work is a discipline concerned with helping people, families, groups, and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being.

According to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), social workers are concerned with ?individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment, and domestic violence.?

Moreover, social workers strive to assist individuals develop their skills ?to use their . . . resources and those of the community to resolve problems.?

Education and training

The CASW stipulates that ?a four-year undergraduate program is required for a bachelor’s degree.? Applicants who have a baccalaureate degree in social work (BSW) may obtain a master’s degree (MSW) after one year of postgraduate studies (advanced standing).

However, those who have a degree in another discipline would require a two-year postgraduate program in social work to obtain their MSW. Potential applications without a bachelor’s degree in social work ?would require a two-year postgraduate program in social work to obtain the master’s degree in social work.?

Social workers are regulated professionals, and governed by a regulatory body. In Ontario, social workers are regulated by the Social Work and Social Service Work Act under the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

This Act requires that anyone who calls themselves a social worker must belong to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. The initials RSW (Registered Social Worker) follow their name in recognition of their status.

Admission information and requirements

According to the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW), 35 Canadian universities offer an undergraduate degree or master’s degree in social work. A further eight schools provide PhD level training for those interested in pursuing careers in academic research, administration, or policy development.

In general, the curriculum consists of theoretical courses and practical training at the undergraduate or graduate level. In most provinces, the BSW is the minimum educational requirement for entry into the profession. Postgraduate education leading to a master’s (MSW) or doctoral degree (PhD) is also available.

Admission requirements and program orientation vary among schools and the CASW recommends that applicants contact each school directly. Furthermore, it is suggested that students take a broad range of courses to be better prepared for the diverse nature of the discipline.

Where social workers work

The majority of social work jobs are funded, directly or indirectly, by federal, provincial, or municipal levels of government.

Social workers work in a variety of settings including general hospitals, correctional facilities, school boards, children’s aid societies, community centers, and as consultants for the government. An increasing number of social workers work in private practice, offering a variety of services including counselling.

As the CASW explains, ?Social workers provide services as members of a multidisciplinary team or on a one-to-one basis with the client.? For instance, some social workers work as part of a team in an acute setting while others set up practice, offering a wide range of services. Essentially, social workers? tasks and responsibilities vary based on the nature of the workplace.


Like many professions, the salary of social workers varies greatly based on years of experience, area of practice, demand for services, and geographic location. Therefore, it is difficult to provide estimates of annual salaries.

Additional information

For more information regarding social work, please visit the Canadian Association of Social Workers website.

For information about social work programs, visit the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW).