Social workers help individuals and families cope with problems in their everyday lives and navigate psychosocial services designed to assist them with those problems. They are employed in a variety of settings, from government agencies to nonprofit organizations.
In general, social work involves helping people deal with a range of life issues, including poverty, abuse, addiction, discrimination, physical illness, divorce, unemployment, educational problems, grief, disability, homelessness and mental illness. Social workers are typically assigned to an individual or family when help is needed and stay involved over a period of time, providing counseling and arranging services that solve immediate or underlying problems.
Most general social workers have a bachelor’s degree in social work. However, clinical social workers must have at least a master’s degree and two years of post-master's experience in a clinical setting under supervision. Clinical social workers are licensed by the state in which they work.
Social work can generally be grouped into three fields of specialization. Family, child or school-based social work deals most directly with issues involved in coping with the problems of daily life. Public health social work deals mostly with people suffering with chronic or life-threatening diseases. Addiction and mental health social work typically deals with people engaged in unhealthy habits or suffering from psychological problems.