A Career as a Social Worker

Maria Senkyr

Career Goal - Social Worker

Career Overview

As a social worker, you help people solve social, financial, and health problems. They work in a variety of settings, from schools to hospitals to clinics. They often specialize in treating certain types of clinets. When social workers get new clinets, they ask them questions to identify their problems, concerns, and needs. Then they collect information and create plans to help their clients. They moniter clients' progress and toward solving their problems and revise the plans as needed.

Helpful High School Courses

It is important to take classes that prepare you for college which could mean considering advanced courses. It would also help to incorperate work-based learning opportunities into your schedule.  Helpful electives are:

  • Anthropology
  • Computer Applications
  • Ethnic and Gender Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Skills and Abilities

Communicate: Listen to others, Understand and Ask questionsReason and Problem Solve: Use reasoning to discover answers to problemsManage Oneself, People, Time, and Things: Manage the time of self and othersWork with People: Be aware of others' reactions and change behavior in relation to themPerceive and Visualize: Identify a pattern that is hidden in distracting materials, such as figures, objects, words, or sounds

Working Conditions

Interpersonal Relationships

  • High degree of social interaction
  • Communicate with coworkers and clients daily
  • Write letters and memos daily, Placed in conflict situations with clients
  • Sometimes deal with physical or violent clinets
  • Responsible for health and safety of clients
  • Work outcomes of those they supervise
  • Work as part of a team

Physical Work

  • Mostly work indoors in an office
  • Sometimes exposed to disease
  • Often exposed to distracting sounds and noise levels
  • Work near other people

Work Performance

  • Must be exact in work
  • Make your own decisions daily that strongly impact clients and their families
  • Usually able to set tasks without consulting a supervisor or coworker
  • Must meet strict deadlines
  • Repeat the same mental tasks


  • Generally have a set schedule each week
  • Usually 40 hours per week
  • May drive to visit clients


For a career as a social worker, you would need a high school diploma or GED, at least a bachelor's degree in social work, a license, and a master's degree for many jobs. If you do get a master's degree, your bachelor's doesn't have to be in social work. Participating in programs better prepares you to choose a field of practice. A part-time or volunteer job at an agency provides a good background, and you should consider an internship while in college. Helpful classes include:

  • Clinical Assessments
  • Caseload management
  • Counseling

On-The-Job Training

During on-the-job training, employers often provide training where you learn agency procedures, forms, and case managing. You usually work with an experienced social worker before receiving your own case. This training is known to last about three months.

Career Field


Wages for social workers vary by area of specialization.
  • Child, Family, and School                     ~ Minnesota: $27.59/hour    - US: $19.56/hour
  • Healthcare                                             ~ Minnesota: $23.82/hour    - US: $23.37/hour
  • Mental Health/Substance Abuse            ~ Minnesota: $21.86/hour    - US: $18.86/hour

Employment Outlook

Social workers will be needed to help the elderly deal with aging. Hospitals are limiting patient stays, so social workers won't be as needed in hospitals. Social workers will be needed in substance abuse treatment programs. Demands in school will occur in relation to rising student enrollment, and employment in private agencies will increase.

The outlook for Minnesota is very high, along with the United States.

Related Occupations

  • Addictions Counselor
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Mental Health Counselors
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Probation Officer
  • Psychiatric Technicians
  • Psychologists
  • Recreational Therapists
  • Rehabilitation Counselors
  • Residential Counselors
  • School Counselors
  • Social and Community Service Managers
  • Social and Human Service Assistants

Programs of Study

Directly Related

  • Social Work

Other Programs

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Child Development
  • Community Services
  • Corrections
  • Criminology
  • Family Resource Management
  • Family Studies and Human Development
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Gerontology
  • Human Services
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • School Counseling

Career Program of Study:
Social Work


The social work program prepares people to counsel disadvantaged groups and individuals. You will learn how to manage casework, about counseling methods, and when to make referrals to other services. The program teaches how to help people meet their basic needs. As a student, you will use organization and research skills to help people have the best life they can. With a degree in social work, you can work as a case manager, counselor, advocate, or policy analyst.

Program Admission

Most schools require you to pass certain courses with good grades before becoming a social worker. Most also require you to fill out an official application to the social work program. The application usually includes a personal statement, professional resume, undergraduate transcripts, and a background check. A biology course is usually required. Typical courses that could be required are:

-- Lower-Level Sociology

-- Psychology

-- Statistics

High school courses that will help with this program:

  • Advanced English Composition courses
  • Political Science
  • Economics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology

Typical Course Work

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Alcohol and Drug Issues
  • Child Welfare
  • Counseling
  • Criminal Justice
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Ethics and Values
  • History of Social Services
  • Human Behavior
  • Social Environment
  • Social Research
  • Social Welfare Practice
  • Social Work Administration
  • Social Work Policy and Services
  • Statistics
  • Supervised Fieldwork

Graduate Programs:

  • Required Courses
  • Fieldwork
  • Thesis (Master's Degree)
  • Preliminary Exams and Dissertation Defense (Doctoral)

In most programs, students spend their third or fourth year of study doing fieldwork. Students work at social agencies performing duties such as meeting with clients, writing reports, and general coursework. They are closely supervised by professional social workers and learn firsthand what the career is like. Fieldwork teaches what students how to apply their course work to real-life situations and is a valuable experience.  

Related Programs

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Art Therapy
  • Child Development
  • Community Services
  • Corrections
  • Counseling and Human Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • Family Resource Management
  • Family Studies and Human Development
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Gerontology
  • Human Services
  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Mental Health Counseling
  • Missions and Missionary Studies

Schools that Offer this Program

  • Mayo School of Health Sciences
  • Bemidji State University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • Winona State University
  • University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • Minnesota State University, Moorhead
  • St. Catherine University
  • St. Olaf University
  • Concordia College

Winona State University

Location of College: Winona, Minnesota

Enrollment of College: 8,896


Type of School: University (4 Year)School Setting: Small town-rural area (Not within commuting distance of a large city)Location and Size of Nearest City: Winona, Minnesota - 30,000Co-ed, Male, or Female: Co-edReligious Affiliation: None

Admission Requirements

Deadline: March 1stTest Required, including Writing Test: ACT (SAT accepted)Average Test Scores, GPA, and Rank:

-  ACT: 23

-  SAT: 580

-  GPA: 3.3

- Rank: 71% of students were in the top half of their high school class


Major Offered: Social WorkAccreditation: CSWE AccreditedStudent-Faculty Ration: 22: 1Typical Class Size:

~ Lecture: 80-200

~ Lab: 24

~ Discussion: 24

College Expenses

Tuition, Room and Board: $14,222 - $16,222Estimated Total Budget: $15,422 - $17,422Application Fee, Deposits: $20

Financial Aid

Deadline to Apply: June 30thRequired Forms Needed: Short Term Loan Application, Consortium AgreementScholarships Available: Outstanding Academic Honor Awards, WSU Foundation Board Scholarships


Resident Hall Options: 11 resident halls and university apartments

- Women and Co-ed Halls

- Students dine at university dining halls

Food Plan Options: If living in a residence hall, you are required to be on one of the following dining service meal plans:

- 7 Meal Plan

- 10 Meal Plan

- 14 Meal Plan


Clubs and Organizations

- Academic Honorary Societies

- Religious Organizations

- Political Organizations

- Community Action Organizations

- Fraternities

- Sororities

- Academic Clubs

- Intercollegiate Teams

- Special Interest Clubs

- Intramural Athletics

- Athletic Clubs

- Cultural Clubs

- Fine Arts Clubs

Greek Life

There are 12 different Greek organizations, including:

~ Delta Phi Epsilon

~ Delta Sigma Pi

~ Greek Council

~ Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

~ Phi Theta Chi

~ Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity

~ Pi Sigma Sigma Sigma Sigma

~ Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity

~ Tau Kappa Epsilon

~ Winona State Panhellenic Association

~ Winona State University Panhellenic Association

Athletics and Intramurals


  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Track
  • Volleyball


  • Aerobics
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cross-Country
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Flag Football
  • Football
  • Golf

Campus Visit

  • Monday-Friday
  • 9:00-1:00
  • Tours: RSVP Encouraged

Plans to Reach This Goal

There are many steps to reach the goal of becoming a Social Worker, and it all starts in high school. I have to care about getting good grades and challenging myself with advanced courses. I have to start thinking about which college I want to go to, such as Winona State University, and looking into the requirements of getting into that school. It is also important to be a well rounded student, by being in different extracurricular activities and helping the community. Another important step is to save money, because school is expensive. I can also look into which scholarships I can apply for, which can help with costs.   

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