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Social Worker

Social workers help individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations develop skills and resources. Their goal is to enhance social functioning and social environments.

Also Known As

Advocate, Case Worker / Manager, Community Developer, Counsellor, Evaluator, Health Professional, Mediator, Navigator, Social Policy Analyst

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Social Workers (4152) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Social Workers (E022) 
  • 2011 NOC: Social workers (4152) 
  • 2016 NOC: Social workers (4152) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Social Workers

2006 NOC: 4152

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Social workers promote social change and enhance people’s well-being. They help individuals develop problem-solving skills and feel self-empowered. Specific duties and client populations vary from setting to setting. Social workers may work in:

  • Family counselling agencies, where they provide assessment, counselling, treatment, and referral services to individuals and families in areas such as parenting and marriage counselling
  • Health-care teams in hospitals, mental health and addictions clinics, or home-care agencies
  • Community health teams, where they work with patients and family members to overcome emotional, behavioural, social, or financial difficulties
  • Correctional services, where they work with youth and adult offenders
  • The education system, where they provide counselling and consultation services to students, parents, and teachers
  • Government social-service departments, where they deliver social policy and advocacy through channels such as income support, child protection, childcare, or foster care and adoption programs
  • Community agencies, where they develop prevention and intervention programs to address problems such as homelessness, family violence, addictions, and racism
  • Residential settings, where they provide counselling, role modelling, crisis intervention, assessment, advocacy, and referral services for children, adolescents, seniors, and people with disabilities, mental health challenges, or addictions
  • Employment assistance programs and private employment agencies, where they provide employment-related assessment, counselling, treatment, and referral services

They may also work in:

  • Program development, organizational development, and evaluation
  • Social research, planning, and advocacy organizations
  • Community and economic development with marginalized groups
  • International social work in developing countries
  • Settlement, immigration, and other cross-cultural services for new Canadians
  • Programs that provide 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 Mar 31, 2020
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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

Positions involved in community work, health care, advocacy, and crisis intervention and investigation may require work on evenings or weekends. Social workers can expect to put in non-regular hours to lead counselling sessions, seminars, and workshops.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Social work is a demanding profession. It requires:

  • Maturity and emotional stability
  • Empathy
  • High energy
  • Patience
  • Integrity
  • Resourcefulness
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Critical-thinking skills and good judgment
  • The ability to be objective and non-judgmental
  • The ability to understand and be sensitive to beliefs and values not your own
  • A belief in social justice

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Social workers

2011 NOC: 4152

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 22 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 11, 2021 and Sep 23, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Personal Suitability: Values and ethics
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Organized
Social Work Specialization: Education and training
Social Work Specialization: Community development
Interview clients to assess their situation and determine the types of services required and eligibility
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Minimum Education 2 years post-secondary

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.

Applicants for social work positions often must undergo a criminal record check and vulnerable sector record check. They should also expect to provide a valid driver’s license and their own vehicle.


Related Education

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

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Social Worker

Social workers help individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations develop skills and resources. Their goal is to enhance social functioning and social environments.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Health Professions Act [pdf] and the Social Workers Profession Regulation [pdf], social workers must meet identified educational requirements and register with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW). Registration is necessary if you wish to provide professional services directly to the public, teach social work practice to ACSW members or social work students, or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. The College authorizes some registered members to 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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Social Worker.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Social workers work for:

  • Correctional services and agencies
  • Cross-cultural agencies
  • Government departments
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Family and social service agencies
  • Human and health service agencies
  • Hospitals and long-term care organizations
  • Indigenous band councils
  • Mental health clinics
  • Not-for-profit community agencies
  • School boards

Social workers may advance to supervisory or administrative positions based on their level of education and work experience. Some social workers go into private practice in their areas of specialization. With a graduate degree, a social worker can 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 4152: Social workers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 227 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Salaries for social workers vary a great deal 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.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Social workers

2016 NOC: 4152
Average Wage
$42.52
Per Hour
Average Salary
$74,180.00
Per Year
Average Hours
33.8
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 4152 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.00 $41.58 $31.68 $28.27
Overall $23.42 $53.76 $42.52 $45.16
Top $25.19 $60.71 $47.23 $51.61

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Health Care & Social Assistance

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
48%
48%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
22%
22%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
5%
5%
Vacancy Rate
2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Social, Community and Protective Services
  • Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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

Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) website: www.aswb.org

Canadian Association of Social Work (CASW) website: www.casw-acts.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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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