Social Work - A Career Overview

It is important to understand that employers hire people, not degrees. The skills and knowledge you develop as a result of your education, as well as in your work and community activities, have the greatest impact on hiring decisions. Listed below are some specific knowledge and transferable skills you will acquire as a result of your university education and your focus on Social Work.

Specific Knowledge Skills

  • An understanding of a range of human and environmental factors and processes that influence social functioning in contemporary life
  • An awareness of the range of dimensions in and preventative approaches to personal and social problems experienced by individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance psycho-social functioning
  • The ability to appropriately and collaboratively assess, evaluate and understand individual, family and group behaviours and make appropriate referrals or recommendations
  • Knowledge and skills to contribute to constructive institutional change and development
  • Understanding of major social problems of the history of social welfare and of current Canadian and international social welfare policies and programs
  • Awareness of a range of approaches and methods of social work intervention and the foundation of knowledge pertaining to applying those interventions
  • Awareness of current social, community and ethical issues and relevant policies
  • Knowledge of various government, community and social institutions and resources, their roles and an ability to provide information and direction to assist in making informed decisions
  • The ability to gather relevant information, assess situations and analyze needs
  • Awareness of and sensitivity to the impact of government policies, economic inequities and ideologies related to culture, class, gender and race on individuals and communities
  • The ability to apply critical thinking and reflective analysis in the interest of social justice
  • The interpersonal competency to combine self-insight with critical analysis of one’s role as a social worker in order to give fair consideration to the impact of power relations and identity in the practice of social work

Valuable Transferable Skills

Information-gathering and Communication Skills

  • The skills required to identify and access a wide range of relevant information and resources
  • The ability to compile and organize facts and information and to comprehend and apply new and/or unfamiliar information to different situations and settings
  • Skills in preparing interesting, creative and informative presentations which target diverse audiences
  • The ability to develop attractive/effective reports, presentations and materials using current technology

Thinking, Planning and Organizational Skills

  • The ability to learn, understand and interpret information and apply knowledge to new situations
  • The ability to set priorities, meet deadlines and effectively plan/manage time, data and resources
  • Problem-solving skills and the ability to make well-reasoned decisions, think creatively and search for, identify and consider all sides of an issue
  • Skills to effectively analyze and interpret a wide range of information and data to discuss, support and/or reject ideas, opinions, reports, theories and proposals

Teamwork and Management Skills

  • Skills enabling you to work effectively as part of a team by identifying your role and contributing, through leading, teaching, motivating and/or encouraging others, to the success of the team
  • An understanding of how to successfully identify, plan and contribute to the goals of a project
  • The ability to oversee, supervise and/or contribute to a project from beginning to end including determining outcomes, planning details, making decisions, assigning roles and completing task

Career Options (Samples Only. Additional education, training or experience may be required.)

Agency Manager
Behaviour Therapist
Career Counsellor
Case Manager
Case Worker
Child Protection Worker
Clinical Director
Community Outreach Worker
Departmental Director
Diversity Consultant
EAP Counsellor
Education Development
Executive Director
Grant Writer
Group Worker
Health Promotion Educator
HR Consultant
Marriage and Family Therapist
Mediator/Labour Relations
Medical Social Worker
Mental Health Counsellor
Outreach Officer
Policy Analyst/Advisor
Program Director/Co-ordinator
Program Planner
Public Affairs Co-ordinator
Public Information Officer
Public Relations Officer
Recreation Mentoring Co-
Rehabilitation Counsellor
Respite Worker
School Social Worker
Service Manager
Staff Development and Training
Support Group Facilitator
Unit Supervisor
Urban Planner
Volunteer Co-ordinator

Potential Employers

Alternative Dispute Resolutions
Boards of Education
Community Health Centres
Correctional Facilities
Counselling Centres
Employee Assistance Plan
Family & Children’s Services
Family Health Teams
Government Agencies
International Development
Long-term Care Facilities
Medical or Psychiatric Clinics
Mental Health Centres
Planning Councils
Political Parties/Lobbying
Residential Facilities
Social Services Agencies


Canadian Association of Social Workers -
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives -
Canadian Council on Social Development -
Council on Social Work Education -
International Development Research Centre -
International Federation of Social Workers -
International Sociological Association -
Ontario Association of Social Workers -
Ontario College of Social Work and Social Service Workers -
Society for Social Work and Research -

Are you interested in learning first hand about the careers our alumni have successfully pursued? Connect with Laurier alumni through the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) program. Participating alumni represent a variety of disciplines, careers and industries.

In addition, the Career Centre has compiled Career Profiles from Laurier alumni. Read about their career paths and how their experiences have led them to their current roles.

This resource is available at the Career Resource Centre.

© 2019 Wilfrid Laurier University - Orbis Career / Co-op Portal Professional v3