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Working Wise: Careers in Social Work

Dear Working Wise,

I’m trying to decide what I want to do for a career. I know that I want to help people and I’d like my job to be stable—not dependent on the price of oil. Do you have any suggestions?
Signed, Thinking about the future

March 1, 2017

Dear Thinking,

There is a wide variety of careers that provide the stability that you’re after along with the opportunity to help other people.

You might want to try using the free CAREERinsite career-planning tool to help you narrow your search. CAREERinsite walks you through the career planning process from getting to know your wants and needs, to exploring your options, making a choice and planning how you’re going to make it happen.

One career option that you might discover during your research is social worker. Social workers help to build stronger, healthier communities by helping people craft better lives through counselling, training and social programs. They help Albertans improve their employment, finances, marriages, personal relationships, and parenting skills.

Social workers also help Albertans overcome substance abuse, prepare for life changes, escape abusive relationships, overcome their disabilities, and stay out of trouble with the law. They can work in schools, hospitals, employment centres, child-protection offices, correctional centres, or community agencies focused on specific challenges ranging from homelessness to poverty to domestic violence to welcoming immigrants.

The hiring outlook remains positive for social workers. Alberta’s Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook 2015 – 2025 predicts a shortfall of 324 social workers over the next decade. According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, average wages range from approximately $32 to $42 an hour. The overall average annual salary is about $72,250.

Social work is a demanding occupation, which requires you to be: mature, emotionally stable, enjoy working with other people, empathetic, non-judgmental, patient, sensitive to others’ beliefs, have a sense of social justice, have integrity and be a good communicator. It is a regulated occupation. Social workers must have a diploma or degree from an approved social work program, 1,500 hours of practical experience, and be registered with the Alberta College of Social Workers.

If this sounds like an interesting career, you can learn more about it by searching the OCCinfo website. OCCinfo has more than 550 different occupational profiles.

You can also learn more by visiting the Alberta College of Social Workers website or attending one of the Social Work Week events the last week of February.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/monkeybusinessimages

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