How To Become A Social Worker In Australia: A Beginner's Guide

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Students want to know how to become a social worker in Australia and what qualifications are required.


If you feel passionate about helping people and want to work towards human rights and social justice, being a social worker is the right profession.


The main objective of this profession is to promote human well-being and help people to live a steady life, fulfil basic needs, and be more valuable to society.


Social workers continually work for economic and social justice, preventing any situation that limits and hinders human rights. They strive towards eradicating poverty and helping people to live healthy and quality life.


So if you want to learn what it takes to become a social worker in Australia, read the post below. It contains all the information on becoming a social worker in Australia, including qualification requirements, salary, courses, steps to take, and more.



1. What Does A Social Worker Do?


Social workers play an incredibly diverse role, depending on their day-to-day activities and work environment. They help their clients with various situations, such as counselling, case management, family therapy, and assisting people in engaging with different social services.


Social workers also contribute to research and policy development projects, as well as education and training programs. Not only that, they even work with consultation processes and participate in public debates to speak about critical social topics. 


Furthermore, a social worker also plays a vital role as an intermediary for various organisations and professions to fulfil the needs of their clients.



2. Why Become A Social Worker?


You may become drawn to a career in social work for several reasons. Some people are interested in doing social work because a social worker helped them in the past. Or they might have experienced difficulties and would like to help others overcome similar hardships.


You may also be drawn to this field if you are interested in resolving issues like abuse, addiction, or mental illness. Besides, you might like working with the elderly or children. 


Most social workers love engaging with individuals and are highly motivated by a passion for supporting others and improving this world.



3. Major Duties And Tasks of A Social Worker


A qualified and professional social worker offers his services to different people. Many social workers choose to work with families, young people, homeless people, the elderly, alcohol and drug abusers, and people with physical and learning disabilities.


Even though a social worker has many tasks and duties, here we have listed the core ones:


  • Provide clients with information about different services that can assist them. 

  • Offer support and counselling through a crisis involving relationship breakdown, illness, death, etc.

  • Help community groups plan and execute programs (for instance, assist newly arrived immigrants to form an association.

  • Provide reports or letters of referral to help clients receive services like social security benefits or crisis accommodation.

  • Research needs, community problems, and solutions via client contacts and health and welfare agencies' records. 

  • Assist small groups of people in learning social skills, sharing their experiences, and supporting each other. 

  • Put pressure to change social welfare procedures and policies and seek social justice for all community members.

  • Provide assistance and leadership for pilot projects on self-help and community development, organisational goals and social policies, and planning and implementing research projects to handle client needs. 

  • Assist clients in understanding and resolving issues by acting as a mediator, offering information, and referring them to self-help and community agencies. 

  • Cooperate with social agencies, community organisations, and voluntary groups to develop new services or improve the old ones. 

  • Assess resources for employment, welfare, health, housing, recreation, and other community services.

  • Act as a facilitator between community services and clients in need. 

  • Conduct interviews with a family or an individual to identify the extent and nature of clients' problems.

  • Develop, analyse, implement, and promote social policies through experience, practice, analytic frameworks, research, and negotiation skills.



4. What Are The Skills Required To Become A Social Worker in Australia?


People facing crises can give rise to many challenges, making the job of a social worker even more complicated. As a result, social workers must be listeners and empathetic towards people who need help. 


One of the most crucial qualities that a social worker can possess is being non-judgemental. Additionally, having problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence can help social workers to serve the community effectively.


Furthermore, a social worker should have a thorough knowledge of the social sciences to understand the relationship between individuals and society. The various fields of social sciences that a social worker needs to learn include economics, education, legal aspects, and psychology.


A social worker's job entails referring clients to other healthcare and social services. They can be considered case managers for individuals who are facing challenging situations and cannot meet their goals. 


A social worker also needs administrative and social skills to assist clients and connect with other support services. All in all, day to day tasks of a social worker may involve a lot of emailing, registration and looking for resources on the client's behalf. 


Here are some of the skill requirements for a social worker:


  • Emotional intelligence

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Empathy

  • Organisational and administration skills

  • A non-judgmental attitude

  • Excellent listening

  • Knowledge of social sciences

  • Practical verbal and written communication abilities



5. Where Do Social Workers Work?


Social workers primarily work with organisations, communities, or governments to address social issues. They often work in an office setting; however, they may spend plenty of time visiting clients outside the office. 


Social workers engage in policy analysis, legislative advocacy, and community organisation, fighting to end the injustices and inequalities they see in their communities.


Here are some of the famous settings social workers work in:


  • Hospitals and clinics

  • State and local government agencies

  • Colleges and universities 

  • Schools

  • Substance abuse clinics

  • Community health clinics

  • Military bases

  • Private practices



6. How Do Social Workers Help People?


Several individuals within society can take help from social workers. The support usually involves acting as an advisor or spending time with program participants to improve their lives and help them move forward. 


Improvements can occur through identifying the cause of the issues or providing housing, well-being, health, or other community services.


Social workers also play a significant role in becoming active members of society and working with other social and health professionals like counsellors, doctors, and psychologists. 


Usually, with the help of private practices, government, health services, care centres, or youth and aged services, social workers may assist people with a variety of issues:


  • Substance abuse

  • Mental health issues

  • Unemployment

  • Gambling

  • Disabilities

  • Youth behavioural issues

  • Domestic violence/family violence

  • Child abuse/child protection


As the issues mentioned above involve families or individuals facing difficulties, it can sometimes be challenging for a social worker to help people deal with tough circumstances. However, with strength and resilience, social workers can handle any situation.



7. What Are The Educational And Training Requirements For A Social Worker In Australia?


You need to complete a degree in social work from a university to become a social worker in Australia. Entry into these courses usually requires you to receive a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in English.


Different educational institutions in Australia have other prerequisites - some have flexible entry requirements, and some may even provide external study options. You can contact the university of your choice to get further information.


Additional information:


Students might have to obtain a First Aid Certificate, National Police Certificate, and immunisations and apply for the Working with Children Check before pursuing professional placements offered through courses. You can check with the institutions you are interested in to get further details.



8. What Are The Social Worker Degree Courses In Australia?


There are two types of social worker course degrees in Australia. Let us check them out!



  • Master of Social Work (postgraduate degree). It takes up to two years to complete. Graduates specialising in law, psychology, and social science can also study this course.


Due to the wide range of specialisations offered, social workers can work in diverse fields, including psychiatric services, child or family welfare services, criminal law and justice sector, aged care sectors, healthcare sectors, and more.


Suppose you have completed a social work degree outside Australia. In that case, you need to apply for the skill assessment of your international qualifications through AASW to determine whether you are allowed to work as a social worker in Australia.


Note: Applicants can apply for both employment and migration purposes at the same time. It will save candidates from having to apply for a different assessment at another time.



9. Steps To Become A Social Worker In Australia


If you want to become a social worker in Australia, you must follow the steps below:


  • Step 1: Complete a bachelor's degree in social work that provides clinical and theoretical social work experiences. If you already have a tertiary qualification, you can directly apply for a two years Master of Social Work (MSW) program.



  • Step 3: Gain additional and relevant experience. Social workers with several years of experience can work in managerial roles, academia, and other specialised roles like research, family therapy, or mental health.



10. Employment Opportunities For A Social Worker in Australia


There are plenty of job prospects for social workers in Australia. They work in various social and community welfare fields.


They may work for the territory, state, or federal government departments, including local government authorities, hospitals, non-government organisations, or community health centres.


Some social workers are self-employed and work as therapists, counsellors, and consultants. With years of experience and extensive practical and academic training, qualified social workers choose to work in non-social work fields as policymakersproject officers, administrators, or managers.



11. How Much Do Social Workers Earn In Australia?


The social worker's salary in Australia usually depends on factors such as educational background, speciality area, etc.


According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a Social Worker in Australia is AU$69,516 per year. Their salary may vary based on how much relevant experience they have and where they work.



Salary Based on Experience:


  • Entry-level (<1-year experience): AU$64,968 per year

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$67,919 per year

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$74,752 per year 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$81,259 per year 

  • In their late career (20 years and above): AU$89,387 per year



The High-Paying Cities For Social Workers in Australia:


  • Canberra: $101,162 per year

  • Darwin: $97,417 per year

  • Brisbane: $97,306 per year

  • Perth: $94,302 per year

  • Newcastle: $93,362 per year

  • Melbourne: $92,778 per year

  • Sydney Western Suburbs: $90,164 per year

  • Sydney: $89,915 per year

  • Townsville: $84,640 per year



12. Frequently ASked Questions (FAQs)



What Degree Do Most Social Workers Need? 


Many Australian universities offer undergraduate social worker courses in Australia, like a Bachelor of Social Work.



Alternatively, if you have previous tertiary qualifications, you can consider completing a post-graduate Master of Social Work:




Which State Pays Social Workers The Most in Australia?


According to Indeed, Canberra, ACT, is Australia's highest-paying city for Social Workers. Working in this city, you can expect to earn $101,162 per year on average.



What Is The Lowest Salary For A Social Worker?


According to PayScale, the lowest pay for a Social Worker in Australia is A$52k / year.



What Makes You Qualified To Be A Social Worker?


You usually need a formal qualification in social work and a registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers to work as a Social Worker in Australia.


Social Workers with relevant industry experience have better chances of landing a role. Volunteering with a helpline or engaging in direct support roles is an excellent way to build work experience.



What Are The Five Roles of Social Workers?


Experienced Social workers can progress to the following specialised roles:


  • Family therapy

  • Mental health

  • Research

  • Academia 

  • Policy and management



How Long Does It Take To Become A Social Worker in Australia?


The duration to become a social worker depends on the learning pathway you choose:


  • Pathway 1: After high school, complete a 4-year full-time Bachelor of Social Work.


  • Pathway 2: If you already have a three or 4-year degree, you can complete a 2-year full-time Master of Social Work to prepare for this role.


Qualifying to work in this role may take around 4 to 6 years. Aspiring social workers who wish to enter the field with industry experience may take more time to start in this role.



How To Become A Social Worker in NSW?


Several universities in NSW offer Social Worker courses in Australia. High-school pass-outs can consider completing a 4-year full-time Bachelor of Social Work - The University of Sydney.


To enter as a Graduate, you can complete a 2-year full-time or 4-year part-time Master of Social Work (Qualifying) – at Western Sydney University. 


Once qualified, apply for registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers to work as a registered Social Worker in Australia.



How To Become A Social Worker in Victoria?


According to state laws, you must have a formal qualification as a Social Worker and a registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers to work in this role.


After completing Senior Secondary education, aspiring Social Workers can complete a Bachelor of Social Work at Deakin University.


Suppose you possess a tertiary qualification in another discipline. In that case, you can complete a 2-year FT or 4-year PT Master of Social Work at Deakin University.



How To Become A Social Worker in Melbourne?


Those who want to study Social Work in Melbourne after high school can consider completing a 4-year full-time Bachelor of Social Work at Victoria University.


Tertiary qualification holders can study a 2-year full-time Master of Social Work at the University of Melbourne.  


Whichever pathway you choose, register with the Australian Association of Social Workers to work as a Social Worker.



Can You Be A Social Worker Without A Degree in Australia?


The minimum education to work as a Social Worker in Australia is a Bachelor of Social Work. However, there are specific Social Worker jobs that you can pursue without a degree.


If you value service and looking to make a career in Social Work right after high school, the following jobs could be worth considering:


  • Teacher's aide: National average income: $17,826 annually

  • Community health worker: National average income: $34,816 annually

  • Childcare provider: National average income: $34,438 annually

  • Case manager: National average income: $42,426 annually

  • Social service assistant: National average income: $53,555 annually

  • Substance abuse counsellor: National average income: $48,859 annually



Tips to Succeed in These Social Work Roles Without a Degree:


  1. It is beneficial to gain relevant work experience. Seek volunteer or entry-level positions in related fields, such as childcare, non-profit, or healthcare organisations. 

  2. You can undertake training in psychology, childhood development, sociology, social programming, or community building from vocational schools, online institutions, or local universities. 

  3. Furthermore, consider pursuing certification to help you while working in a social worker role. To become a social worker via TAFE, you may consider the following courses:



All these ways will give you knowledge of the healthcare system and its social impacts, interpersonal skills, and community outreach to impress potential employers.



What Makes You A Social Worker?


The following skillset makes you ideal for a social worker role:


  • Helping attitude

  • Like working with a diverse patient base of different ages and cultural backgrounds 

  • Enthusiastic to work for human rights and social justice 

  • Excellent communication skills to facilitate education, provide referrals to patients and work with support groups. 

  • Understanding and support to help people cope with social and emotional issues of various natures. 

  • Good organisation and time management skills

  • Unbiased



What Is The Daily Life of a Social Worker?


A typical day of a social worker varies based on where they work and their clientele.


When working with the residents of an area, they ensure they meet their social, emotional, and economic needs.


Social workers may work with people without housing and children to provide them with support and resources and help them enhance their behaviour.


Most social workers begin their day early to review their client's cases before meeting them and making home visits.


Social workers may require commuting to different places for case-related work and meeting with lawyers or police officers to discuss the legalities of their client's cases. They may meet other social workers to cooperate on enhancing the people's lives they work with.



Is Social Work in Demand in Australia? 


Social workers are in huge demand in healthcare and outside the healthcare sector. 


They primarily work in the healthcare sector, including psychiatric clinics, hospitals, etc. Still, many also work in the social assistance sector, including NGOs and state and local-level government agencies.


In Australia, Social Worker is a large occupation. It has grown to a large extent in the past five years. According to Labour Market Insights, the number of workers in this occupation is expected to rise from 40,000 in 2021 to 49,300.


in 2026. The government projects a growth rate of 23.2% and a generation of 9,300 new jobs in this industry.



Is Social Work A Stressful Job?


Yes. Being a social worker involve some level of stress due to high caseloads, and other reasons mentioned below:


  • The availability of limited public or private resources can frustrate social workers as they may need help to provide much-needed care to their clients.


  • Working with upset and angry clients can also be stressful for social workers. They use various techniques to defuse tension in their clients and help them live effectively.


  • Social workers usually manage 15 to 20 caseloads at a time. However, working in certain social work agencies and departments may require dealing with 20 or higher caseloads. Each case requires them to devote more time and attention to helping clients. So, when they have to complete more work in less time, it causes stress in them.


  • Working outside of standard business hours on weekends and evenings can be another reason for building up stress in them. Moreover, social workers may also require to be available on-call to tackle sudden emergencies of their clients.



What Challenges Do Social Workers Face?


Social workers may need to work with clients who have been victims of abuse. Staying calm while dealing with their emotional outbursts and helping them overcome their emotional trauma can be a real challenge.


Furthermore, they may have to work with mentally-disturbed people, families who can't adopt a child or patients who are shifting to hospice for end-of-life care. As these situations can be emotionally challenging, social workers must maintain their mental health to continue serving people.



What Is The Best Career in Social Work?


The best career in Social Worker depends on your skills, interests, and abilities. For social workers who like working with children, the role of a Child, school, and family social worker could be ideal.


Likewise, Social Workers with the emotional strength and skill to work with mentally disabled people can find a role as a Mental health and addictions social worker appropriate.


Social workers interested in helping hospital patients meet their needs can choose to be Healthcare social workers.


Suppose you like working with communities and helping them flourish through support programs. In that case, you will enjoy working as a Community Social Worker.


If you love the environment and want to contribute to "green/eco-friendly social work," then a role as an Eco-social worker could be best suited for you.


So, the best social work career depends on your abilities and interests and how you want to use them to help people.



What Is The Easiest Social Work Job?


Some entry-level social worker jobs don't require prior experience in the social work industry. By working in these roles, you can build life and work skills and expertise in sociology to progress to specialised and better-paying roles in the field.


So, here are our best picks for easy and flexible social worker jobs in Australia:


  • Group Home Workers

  • Case Managers

  • Community Social Workers

  • Substance Abuse Counselors

  • Healthcare Social Workers



What Pays The Most in Social Work?


Social work is a vast career path that includes diverse roles to improve the lives of individuals, groups, families, and communities by helping them overcome life's challenges, improving social functioning, and advocating for their overall well-being.


Below we have a list of typical social worker roles (along with national average salaries):


  • Health Promotion Officer: $80,000 per year (Highest-paying role)  

  • Therapist: $77,366 per year

  • Community Development Officer: $76,000 per year 

  • Clinical social worker: $74,250 per year

  • Behaviour analyst: $68,593 per year

  • School counsellor: $63,481 per year

  • Caseworker: $55,148 per year

  • Medical social worker: $55,030 per year

  • Behavioural health technician: $49,748 per year

  • Child welfare specialist: $49,271 per year

  • Volunteer Coordinator: AU$64,946 or $42,900 per year

  • Addiction counsellor: $42,856 per year

  • Family Support Worker: AU$64,333 or $42,514.73 per year

  • Family advocate: $42,399 per year

  • Case manager: $41,885 per year

  • Social work intern: $38,571 per year

  • Mental Health Worker: AU$54,681 or $36,136.172 / year 

  • Crisis counsellor: $35,864 per year

  • Direct care worker: $35,600 per year

  • Counsellor: $34,095 per year



Are Social Workers in Demand in NSW?


Social work is ranked as one of the top high-growth industries in the nation. According to the Health Department, NSW, the demand for social workers is sparing across the state.


The demand drivers affecting the future of the NSW social worker workforce are the following:


  • Highly complicated health and social needs

  • Social isolation

  • Lack of referral options for community services 

  • Changing social service structures and Roles

  • Specialisation


The NSW government states a rising demand for social workers is in Medicolegal and specialist areas, such as cardiology or gerontology.


Furthermore, the rise in co-morbidities, and the increased need for social, physical, and emotional needs of individuals and families, will contribute to a greater demand for social workers in coming years.



What Career Is Close To Social Work?


Social work occupation encompasses a wide-ranging field of areas that helps including social workers perform assessments, build intervention strategies, and improve the way individuals or groups function as a society.


These areas include - health, sociology, politics, law, psychology, community development, and economics.


Below is a list of careers that are similar to social work:




13. Closing Words


If you want to become a social worker and make a difference, make sure you are passionate about it. Social work is a profession that refers to the underlying desire to support people. 


It is a challenging job, but it can be meaningful, impactful, and rewarding to communities that need open-minded listeners to help address social issues.


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