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A Career in Social Work

What is Social Work? 

“Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.” (IFSW 2014)

Social work is a profession that has it basis in the promotion of social justice. Social work aims to empower individuals, groups and communities to take charge of their own lives within their own environment and social context. It does this through its unique knowledge base which has developed from the integration of sociological, psychological and other relevant theories and practice.

Social workers share a common aim of promoting equality. They play a crucial role in highlighting and addressing issues relating to discrimination and inequality in society. Social work practitioners are required to have a broad, generalist skill-base to equip them to work effectively with the complex, multi-faceted demands of the job.

Social Work Career
Social workers work in a broad range of settings including

  • Adoption
  • Children and Adolescent mental health
  • Child and families
  • Disabilities
  • Elderly
  • Fostering
  • Local Authority Housing
  • Medical
  • Mental Health
  • Primary Care
  • Probation
  • Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Substance Abuse

Why become a Social Worker?
Many people go into social work because they want to ‘make a difference’. They want to work with people and empower them to improve their lives. People wanting to be social workers need to be able to manage a sometimes heavy workload and manage their time effectively. 

Social work can be emotionally demanding and it is important that anyone interested in becoming a social worker understands that. Dealing with other people’s pain and suffering is difficult. Social workers need to be resilient and know how to get support themselves and use that support effectively.

Skills required to become a Social Worker
The Social Workers Registration Board at CORU require that six Domains are assessed when studying to becoming a social worker. They are: professional autonomy and accountability; interpersonal and professional relationships; effective communication; personal and professional development; provision of quality services; knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to social work.

Empathy and interpersonal skills top the list of essential traits for the profession. The ability to find resources — and to potentially think outside the box when doing so — is also an essential attribute. In addition, social workers must possess excellent organizational skills, excellent time-management skills and the ability to navigate through often technical, and sometimes discouraging, sets of regulations and paperwork. They may be responsible for managing multiple clients or projects and often must maintain detailed records. Finally, social workers must have discretion and a good understanding and application of ethical standards. Those employed in clinical work, in particular, may be privy to sensitive information that must be kept confidential.

Social Work Salaries
The salaries are usually advertised alongside the post but it is worth checking with employers, who can also advise you on any benefits such as pensions and paid annual leave, etc.

Salaries range between settings, sectors and areas. It is useful to look at the HSE website as a guideline Consolidated Payscales 1st September 2019

The title social worker is a legally protected title that only those registered with CORU can use. It is a criminal offence for a non-registrant to use a protected title. Further information on Registration and Continuous Professional Development can be found on our website in the ‘CPD’ and ‘Careers & Education’ section. 

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