Social Work Roles: In their own words

Social Worker and Child

So recently I went to Reddit to ask social workers what job in social work they hold, and what their favorite part of that role is.

I want to highlight the diverse and rewarding possibilities in a social work career.

Some of the respondents also talked about the downsides, or compared various fields of social work. Here are some of the social workers' answers. I've attempted to subdivide the fields of social work into larger categories, though there is some overlap.

Medical Social Work

Addiction Treatment

  • Poster just said "Loved it!"

Hospice Social Work

  • Requires a MSW in some states. 
  • Extremely flexible in terms of individual scheduling and time with patients. 
  • Fulfilling to help people have smooth and peaceful transitions. 
  • Multiple posters said how much they loved hospice work, and how they wish they'd found it sooner.

Infectious Disease Medical Social Worker

  • Currently working with patients with HIV, TB, and Covid. 
  • Often substance abuse and mental health issues as well. 
  • Involves counseling, psychoeducation, and advocacy. 
  • Challenging and meaningful. 
  • Works in an Asian country.

Intensive Therapeutic Clinic: Pre-K with Autism, Down Syndrome, other Developmental Disabilities

  • Poster just said "Love it!"

Mental Health Community Support Worker

  • Good elements include working with people long term, advocating, and really getting to know them. 
  • Often low pay and poor working conditions. 

Mental Health Crisis Response Case Manager

  • Fast-paced, something different every day.
  • Involves creativity and flexibility.
  • Learn a lot about different systems.
  • Experience client resiliency.
  • A lot of collaboration with different agencies, fellow providers. 

Renal Social Work

  • Very close working relationship between staff and patients - feels like a family.
  • Extremely rewarding.

Community Social Work

Americorps, Working with At-Risk Youth

  • Worked with youth in classrooms and in the field.
  • Tutoring as well as teaching wilderness skills. 
  • You have to enjoy working with youth to enjoy this work. 

Department of Children and Families / Child Welfare

  • Love the kids, and can be rewarding. 
  • Extremely stressful and difficult, and low-paying.

Domestic Violence Work

  • Works with the entire family.
  • Collaborates with the police, schools, and all involved parties. 
  • Interesting and varied, rewarding, and generally not stressful (though there is occasional adrenaline).

Forensic Social Work / Forensic Psychiatry

  • For those who love true-crime and the legal system.
  • Work with people with severe mental illness. 
  • Very rigorous and structured environment. 
  • Poster says there is a huge need for forensic social workers in California.
  • One poster just said "Loved it!"

Homeless Assistance

  • Very rewarding.
  • Low pay.
  • Stressful but love it due to the impact being made on people's lives.
  • A lot of interaction with substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • Is interesting and varied. 
  • This area feels like it really needs to be a calling.

Housing Assistance (Government-Run Non-Profit in Canada) 

  • Intense pace, a large variety of clients.
  • Should be good at building relationships.

Reintegration Work with People Leaving Detention

  • It's like solving a puzzle, to help the person with enough help to meet their needs, but not so much that you overdo it. 
  • Ensuring public safety is another aspect of the puzzle.

Residential Youth Treatment

  • Poster's clients are teen boys.
  • The work can be frustrating, but sometimes it clicks and then it's very rewarding.

Mezzo / Macro Social Work

Development Coordinator, Human Services Non-Profit

  • Serves clients in rural poverty.
  • Mainly mezzo work (grant-writing, development, program management).
  • Occasional micro work with individuals. 
  • Loves the variety, freedom, connections, and ability to make change on a larger scale.

Qualitative Research

  • Leading focus groups and analyzing the resultant information. 
  • Rewarding, interesting, and pays well. 
  • A lesser-known side of social work practice. 
  • The poster originally got this job through USAJOBS, as a research assistant.

Regional Program Manager for Federal Hospice Agency

  • Ensures that policies and regulations are being followed in their assigned region. 
  • Makes recommendations in changes to laws and regulations.
  • Serves as communication conduit from program staff to national policy makers.
  • The process can be slow and involves lots of planning.
  • Loves the ability to influence larger change.