What skills should a social worker have

The social worker

Tasks | Career prospects | Salary | Current jobs

The job as a social worker is

  • diversified
  • has a future
  • is social
  • possible in many fields of work
  • human oriented

Duties as a social worker

  • Advice and support
  • Finding solutions together with people
  • Documentation and file management
  • Dispute settlement
Annual salary:
28.000 € – 51.000 €

Depending on

  • completed training
  • work experience
  • Advanced training
  • responsibility

Do you like to take care of other people and help them out of an emergency? Then the job as a social worker might be your dream. Here we show you what a social worker is, what tasks he is engaged in, where he can find a job and what he earns. In addition, you will find a whole range of job offers for social workers here.

Table of Contents

All information about the social worker at a glance

What is a social worker? The social worker is a person who takes care of the prevention and elimination of problems in social coexistence.
What does a social worker do? The social worker looks after, advises and supports people who are in social emergency.
How do I become a social worker?You have to complete a degree in social work. This is offered at technical colleges and a few universities. Distance learning is also possible.
What does a social worker earn?An annual salary of between € 28,000 and € 51,000 is possible.

What is social work?

Social work is an activity that helps people to actively solve their problems and to see themselves as subjects of their actions. It is a synthesis of social pedagogy and social work and not only takes care of solving social problems, but also of preventing them.

Current vacancies & jobs as a social worker

Social worker: definition

A social worker takes care of children, adolescents and adults when they find themselves in difficult life situations. They advise, look after and support people in need. In some job advertisements, social workers are also called social educators. You work at counseling centers, in youth and family welfare, at youth welfare offices or one of the major social organizations such as Caritas, Arbeiterwohlfahrt or Diakonie.

Social workers look after people who are in difficult situations or emergencies. This can be homelessness, but also a mental illness, drug addiction, being in prison or educational difficulties in children.

As a social worker, you are busy preventing, coping with and solving the problems other people have in the social field. You either advise and look after families, but also individuals or groups of people. The specific tasks you carry out as a social worker depend on your area of ​​activity and your job.

You can work at the youth welfare office and look after disadvantaged young people in their families. But you can also work directly in the affected families at a counseling center for the homeless, in a correctional facility or at youth and family welfare. For example, if you work in a prison, you will advise the inmates and help them to get back into life after they have been imprisoned.

If you are employed by debt counseling, you support people who can no longer cope with their debts on their own.

Basically, in every area it is a matter of advising people in emergencies, working out solutions to problems together with people and settling disputes. But the tasks of a social worker do not end with the advice, care and support of people in need.

In addition to these social tasks, every work area also has to deal with organization, administration and planning. The respective cases have to be precisely documented and files have to be kept properly.

Social worker: requirements

Your own personality is very important for the social worker. Dealing with people is the be-all and end-all for a social worker. In addition, you should be able to empathize with other people and be able to listen well.

In addition to some personal aspects, you also need professional skills. If you want to work as a social worker, you should have these skills:

  • empathy
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Reflective ability
  • Conflict ability
  • Critical thinking
  • A healthy distance
  • Expertise
  • Knowledge of the law
  • Determination

Your skills

Social worker: training & studies

If you want to apply for a job as a social worker, you need at least a bachelor's degree in "social work". This course is offered at many universities of applied sciences throughout Germany. The course is usually between six and eight semesters long. You can also complete “social work” as a dual course of study and are already involved in the practical work.

The study of social work is independent and ends with a Bachelor's degree. Even if some job descriptions should still read about the diploma social worker or diploma social pedagogue, you can apply with a Bachelor's or Master's degree. The course itself is structured differently at each university or technical college, as there are no fixed framework conditions.

In any case, you not only have to complete the individual modules, of which there are compulsory and elective modules, but also internships and a thesis. Possible contents of the course are included

  • Educational science
  • Social science
  • Methodical work
  • psychology
  • Law

If you opt for a dual degree in social work, you attend theoretical lectures and seminars at a university or technical college and work in a company at the same time. You can combine theory with practice.

Current vacancies & jobs

Graduate (studies / training)

As a social worker, you have many offers on the job market. This is also because you can be used as a social worker in many areas. If you have completed a degree in social work, your chances of getting a job as a graduate are very good. If you want to be absolutely sure that you will find a good job immediately after graduating, you can already gain practical experience during your studies.

You can find a job as a social worker in these fields. Many of your future employers are public authorities or institutions, but there are also social worker jobs in the private sector.

  • Child and youth work
  • Parents and family counseling
  • Day care
  • Education aids
  • child protection
  • Social work in health care
  • Social work in prison
  • Social counseling
  • Addiction support
  • Victim assistance
  • In the private enterprise you can work as a social worker in the field of human resources

Helpful soft skills as a social worker

If you want to work as a social worker, you not only need a great deal of specialist knowledge, but above all so-called soft skills as social competencies. These are skills that enable people to interact socially with another person.

In pedagogy, too, a lot revolves around social skills; they are, for example, defined as a central goal of federal German educational policy. As a social worker, you should therefore have a range of social skills:

  • empathy
  • Work independently
  • Self-discipline
  • Helpfulness
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Communication skills
  • tolerance
  • respect
  • engagement

This is a selection of soft skills that you should have as a social worker. As you advise and help other people in emergencies, you should have these social skills in particular.

Social Workers: Industries & Areas

As a social worker, you can work in a wide variety of areas. You can work in adult education, but also in child and youth work or in work with senior citizens. You help people in difficult situations and show them a way out of crises. These can result from poverty, divorce, loss of home, unemployment, substance abuse, illness, delinquency or sexual abuse.

But you can also work in early childhood education, in educational work or in school social pedagogy. Here we introduce you to some of the work areas in more detail:

Education: In this area you will work at a daycare center, after-school care center or at a school. You teach children and young people social skills and are always available when they have a problem. In a youth center, you take care of the youth's education, culture and leisure time and how they organize their holidays.

Child, youth and family aid: Here you primarily take care of children, adolescents and their parents. You advise and support, but also take care of them when they need financial help. For example, you will take care of homework and ensure that the children and young people take part in social training courses if necessary. If they can no longer live in their original family, you can put them with foster parents, in a home or in a youth group. You can also take over the guardianship for children and adolescents in this area.

In court and in prison: As a social worker, you can work in juvenile justice and inform the court about the personality of your clients. You propose which educational measures could be suitable as punishment and accompany the young people during the entire process in court. In prison, you look after prisoners when they go on vacation or interrupt their sentence. Before and after they are released, you will help them find work and an apartment and support them in dealing with the authorities.

Open social work: As a social worker, you can also find a job in what is known as open social work. Then you take care of the homeless, teenage gangs or prostitutes, for example. You are out on the street and look for your clients wherever they are. But you are also involved in emergency housing, emergency sleeping places or other contact points for people in need.

Case Management: If you work as a social worker in so-called case management, which is also known as case management, then you determine what kind of help a person in need needs and make sure that all the departments that are responsible for the support work well together. Social workers are often employed in case management with individual assistance. But you can also work in system management and take care of the entire social assistance system in your area of ​​responsibility.

Help for children, young people and families
Court & Prison

Social worker: The salary

If you are employed as a social worker by a municipality or a public institution of the federal government, your salary is based on what the collective agreement for the public service (TVöD) specifies. Depending on your job, you will be categorized there individually into levels and salary groups.

The amount of your salary is based on this classification. The classification itself depends on your specific training and degree, your professional experience and any further training you may have completed. The responsibility that you have in your job as a social worker also has an impact on the amount of your salary.

In the public sector, a social worker earns between 1,800 euros and 2,500 euros gross per month. Of course, the salary can also be significantly higher - this is especially true for jobs in the private sector.

Career prospects& Career opportunities

further education

Even after completing your studies, you should continue to train as a social worker. You can attend a whole range of courses or seminars while you work and use them to further develop your skills. Often you can specialize in one area with further training. You can choose between the following special topics:

  • Social law
  • communication
  • Social counseling
  • conflict management
  • Mediation
  • Inclusion in early childhood education
  • Adult education
  • Elementary education
  • Special education
  • Family help
  • Debt counseling

With further training you can acquire many qualifications that will help you in your daily work. As you as a social worker always advise and look after people in a wide variety of emergencies, you need a lot of skills in this regard.

Promotion opportunities & career prospects

Of course, you can also pursue a career as a social worker and take on a managerial role in the area in which you work. If you specialize in a specific subject through further training, your chances of a career increase. After completing your master’s degree, you can also aim for a doctorate, for example. This predestines you for a career at a university or technical college in the field of science and research.
You can continue your education in these areas and then acquire your doctorate as a social worker:

  • Coaching and advice
  • Supervision
  • Psychosocial counseling and therapy
  • Educational science
  • Educational sciences
  • psychology
  • educational Psychology

If you're a social worker, it's not just a job, it's a real calling for most. You should like to approach other people and be positive about them. In addition, you should actually be interested in your clients' problems and work on solutions together with them. As a social worker, you support your clients and help them get back on their feet and improve their social situation in the long term.

Current vacancies & jobs as a social worker

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