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Occupational Profile

Social Worker

Social workers help individuals, families, groups, communities and organizations develop the skills and resources they need to enhance their social functioning and social environments.

Related Video(s)
Social Worker (6:46)

  • Avg. Salary $72,251.00
  • Avg. Wage $39.87
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary
  • Outlook Up
  • Employed 6,100
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Case Worker/Case Manager, Counsellor/Advisor

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Social Worker is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Social Workers
NOC code: 4152
SOCIAL

Interest in mentoring in order to counsel and provide therapy to clients to help them develop skills to deal with and resolve their social and personal problems; in serving on interdisciplinary teams of professionals working with client groups; in assisting in community development; and in providing mediation services

INNOVATIVE

Interest in co-ordinating information to plan programs of assistance including referral to agencies that provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, medical treatment and other services; in conducting social research; and in developing prevention and intervention programs to meet community needs

DIRECTIVE

Interest in investigating cases of child abuse and neglect and in taking authorized protective action; may supervise other social workers

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Social workers promote social change, problem solving in human relationships and empowerment of people to enhance well-being. Specific duties and client populations vary from setting to setting. Social workers may work in:

  • family counselling agencies providing assessment, counselling, treatment and referral services to individuals and their families in areas such as parenting and marriage counselling
  • health care teams in hospitals, mental health and addiction clinics or home care agencies
  • community health teams working with patients and family members to overcome emotional, behavioural, social and financial difficulties
  • correctional services working with youth and adult offenders
  • the education system providing counselling and consultation services for students, parents and teachers
  • government social service departments delivering social policy and advocacy programs such as income support programs, child protection programs, childcare programs or foster care and adoption programs
  • community agencies developing prevention and intervention programs to meet community needs (for example, addressing problems such as homelessness, family violence, addictions, racism)
  • residential settings providing counselling, role modeling, crisis intervention, assessment, advocacy and referral services for children, adolescents, people with disabilities, mental health challenges or addictions or the elderly
  • employment assistance programs and private agencies providing employment related assessment, counselling, treatment and referral services
  • program development, organizational development and evaluation 
  • social research, planning and advocacy organizations
  • community and economic development with disadvantaged groups
  • international social work in developing countries
  • settlement, immigration and other cross cultural services for new Canadians
  • providing assessment and counselling services, training seminars or services related to policy development, program planning, evaluation and research
  • administration and management of social service agencies and programs.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Working conditions vary widely. Social workers often divide their time between face to face contact with clients and completing assessments, case studies, plans and reports. Direct practice may include interviewing clients in their homes, family counselling sessions, group work, attending meetings and co-ordinating services with other helping professionals and community agencies.

Positions involved in community work, health care, advocacy, crisis intervention and investigation, and counselling sessions, seminars and workshops may require evening or weekend work.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Social work is a demanding profession requiring:

  • maturity and emotional stability
  • empathy
  • ability to be non-judgmental 
  • high energy
  • patience
  • sensitivity to and an understanding of beliefs and values not your own
  • good communication skills
  • critical thinking skills and good judgment
  • integrity 
  • resourcefulness
  • belief in social justice.

Social workers should enjoy working with and counselling people, finding innovative solutions to problems and taking responsibility for their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Social workers must have a diploma, bachelor's degree or master's degree in social work. Some employers require a minimum of a bachelor of social work (BSW) degree. Other requirements may include a criminal record check, child welfare intervention record check, a valid driver's license and the use of a vehicle.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Blue Quills First Nations College

Bow Valley College

Mount Royal University

NorQuest College

Northern Lakes College

Red Deer College

University of Manitoba - Winnipeg

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Social Worker

Social workers enhance or restore the social functioning of individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities by improving developmental, problem solving and coping capacities of people and systems; promote effective and humane systems that provide resources, opportunities and services to people and link people to those systems; and contribute to the development and improvement of social policy.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and the Social Workers Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) is mandatory if you meet identified educational requirements and provide professional services directly to the public, teach the practice of the profession to members or students of the profession, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Registered members who are authorized by the College perform restricted activities defined in the Regulation. Only registered members may use the protected titles Social Worker or Registered Social Worker. To use the protected title Clinical Social Worker, registered members must meet additional requirements.

Education

Registration as a Social Worker requires: (1) a diploma or a degree from an approved social work program and (2) at least 1,500 hours of acceptable practical experience, 500 hours of which must be within the 3 years prior to application. Applicants who have been out of practice for a period of time also may have to demonstrate that they are currently competent to practice. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACSW website or contact ACSW. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACSW website or contact the ACSW.

Working in Alberta

Social workers who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered social workers in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated social workers, see Social Worker Registration Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Alberta College of Social Workers
550, 10707 - 100 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5J 3M1
Phone number: 780-421-1167
Toll-free phone number: 1-800-661-3089
Fax number: 780-421-1168
Website: www.acsw.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Above-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Social workers are employed by:

  • government departments
  • school boards
  • human and health service agencies
  • hospitals and long term care organizations
  • mental health clinics
  • family and social service agencies
  • employee assistance programs
  • correctional services and agencies
  • Aboriginal band councils and other cross cultural agencies
  • not-for-profit community agencies.

Social workers may advance to supervisory or administrative positions based on their level of education and work experience. Or, social workers may go into private practice in their areas of specialization. Those who have graduate degrees may move into post-secondary teaching and research positions.

In Alberta, 88% of people employed as social workers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 6,100 Albertans are employed in the Social workers occupational group. This group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.5% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 153 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.  

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Salaries for social workers vary considerably depending on the employer and the worker's qualifications.

For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, see the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website.

Social workers
NOC code: 4152

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.65 $40.26 $32.85 $34.21
Overall $23.92 $51.13 $39.87 $42.36
Top $24.31 $53.50 $42.62 $44.22

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

51%
51%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

21%
21%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

5%
5%

2015 Vacancy Rate

6%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Health, Recreation and Human Services
    • Human and Social Services
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) website: www.acsw.ab.ca

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) website: caswe-acfts.ca

Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) website: www.cswe.org

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website: www.hsaa.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 04, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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