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Horizon Career Centre
The Horizon Career Centre is an initiative of the Australian Association of Social Workers to provide a forum for employment solutions and career resources.
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Social Work FAQs
 
- What do Social Workers do?
- Where do Social Workers work?
- How can I become a Social Worker?
- What do Social Workers get paid?
- What does an overseas trained Social Worker need to do to work in Australia?
- What do Australian trained Social Workers need to do to work overseas?
- Where are Social Work vacancies advertised?
- I am a Social Worker returning to the workforce. What do I need to do?
 
What do Social Workers do?
Social Workers:
  • work with individuals, groups and communities to shape and change the conditions in which they live;
  • advocate for disadvantaged members of society;
  • work towards the elimination of social inequalities in society to facilitate a more equitable distribution of resources;
  • engage in research to build the social work knowledge base and understanding of society; and
  • analyse, challenge and develop social policies.
Due to the diversity of the profession, Social Workers’ roles can look different depending on the field they choose to work in and the organisation they choose to work for. Despite the very different roles that Social Workers may be employed in, the commonality is why Social Workers do what they do. This can be understood best through the ‘value base’ of the profession, which centres on the following five values - human dignity and worth, social justice, service to humanity, integrity and competence.
 
Where do Social Workers work?
Social Work provides an exciting and diverse range of career possibilities, from individual counselling to advocacy work to policy development, to name but a few! There are Social Workers in many organisations, from large government departments to small non-government community organisations. Examples of the kinds of work Social Workers do may include advocating for patients in hospitals, working in a community centre organising events for youth at risk, individual counselling in a private practice or researching policy on homelessness for a government department. Social Workers may also use their skills to work in the media, politics, social entrepreneurship, communications or the arts. Social Work is an international profession with plenty of opportunities to live and work around the world. There is no limit to how you can use your skill set. If you have a passion for working to enhance well-being and maximising human potential, Social Work may be for you!
 
How can I become a Social Worker?
A four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSocWk) degree is required for entry into the occupation of a Social Worker. The four years of study may be structured in different ways, depending upon the individual university. For example, some may be four-year courses but some may be two years following completion of a relevant degree (or two years thereof) with specified prerequisite subjects. Special and mature age entry may also apply. Check with the university for more details. A Master of Social Work (Qualifying) is offered by a number of universities. A critical component of Social Work training is Field Education. Students must successfully complete a minimum of 140 seven-hour working days (at least 980 hours) in at least two field education subjects, taken over two years. For a full list of AASW accredited Social Work courses, please visit www.aasw.asn.au
 
What do Social Workers get paid?
According to Graduate Careers Australia, the median salary in 2010 for graduates from all degree levels in the field of social work was $50,000. What you earn will depend on a variety of factors, including which state/territory you work in, which organisation you work for and which Award you are paid under. For more information on Social Work career outcomes, please visit www.gradsonline.com.au
 
What does an overseas trained Social Worker need to do to work in Australia?
 
To work as a Social Worker in Australia you will need to have your qualifications assessed by the Australian Association of Social Workers. For full details please visit www.aasw.asn.au
 
Please note although Horizon Career Centre is an AASW program, only the AASW International Qualifications Assessment Officer can provide you with information about this process. If after reading the detailed information outlined on www.aasw.asn.au you still have queries about the process, please contact the IQA Officer in national office on +61 3 9642 2712 or email aaswiqa@aasw.asn.au
 
If you are interested in working in Australia we recommend the three Ps - Plan, be Patient and Persevere so you can make this a wonderful life experience to remember! You might also like to use the four-phase process outlined in 'Plan Your Career'.
 
What do Australian trained Social Workers need to do to work overseas?
 
Most countries will require that you have your Australian qualifications assessed. Additionally, you will need to research the visa requirements for working in the country of your choice, which you can do by visiting the websites of the relevant immigration departments. A great place to begin researching your move is the national association of Social Workers in the country you plan to work in. The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) website www.ifsw.org is a great resource for finding all of the professional Social Work associations around the globe.
 
Remember that the role of a Social Worker may differ in other countries. It is essential that you thoroughly research the types of experiences you are hoping to have so that you are able to seek out work that fits your expectations. If you are interested in working overseas we recommend the three Ps - Plan, be Patient and Persevere so you can make this a wonderful life experience to remember! You might also like to use the four-phase process outlined in 'Plan Your Career'.
 
Where are Social Work vacancies advertised?
 
There are a number of places to access Social Work job vacancies, including on our own Jobs page, newspaper employment sections and the individual websites of the major federal and/or state/territory government departments. Remember, that not all vacancies requiring Social Work qualifications will be titled ‘Social Worker’. Other job titles that may require Social Work qualifications include Caseworker, Case Manager, Allied Health Professional, Outreach Worker, Care Coordinator, Clinician, Project Officer, Team Leader or Youth Worker (just to name a few!).
 
I am a Social Worker returning to the workforce. What do I need to do?
 
At present there are no mandatory requirements regarding retraining. However, there are a variety of great options to enhance your knowledge, skills and values, including attending Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events, enrolling in a short course or postgraduate study, and reading Social Work publications. We also recommend reconnecting with the social work community and forming your professional network. Make contact with social work colleagues whose work inspires you, those you admire, trust and respect – they will be a wonderful resource as you ‘re-enter’ the profession. To access listings of CPD events please visit www.aasw.asn.au
 
You can also contact your local AASW branch to ask about upcoming events and any networks/groups that may be meeting. We recommend going through the four-phase process outlined in 'Plan Your Career' as this framework will provide you with a pro-active model to identify your career needs and build connections.
 


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