Social Workers

(NOC 4152)

in All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

Social workers help individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, and organizations develop the skills and resources they need to enhance social functioning and social environments. They provide counselling, therapy, and referral to other supportive social services. Social workers also respond to other social needs and issues like unemployment, racism, and poverty. They work for hospitals, school regions, social service agencies, child welfare organizations, prisons, community agencies, employee assistance programs, and Aboriginal band councils, or they may work in private practice. Social workers may specialize in fields of practice like child welfare, family services, corrections, gerontology, or addictions.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Weak growth employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 135 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate Low rate of unemployment in 2019

Compared to: All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

  • Estimate 770 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 4115 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Few social workers were laid off because of COVID-19. Demand for many of the services provided by this occupational group have remained stable or increased because of the pandemic. Social workers serving clients in an office setting or visiting homes have been encouraged to transition to virtual or telephone-based meetings whenever possible.

Demand for social workers is strong in general. The number of roles for this occupational group has been increasing due to factors like enhanced services for veterans, the growing needs of an aging population, and an increased emphasis on mental health and the psychological needs of youth. Many vacancies arise from turnover, due to high caseloads, a stressful work environment, and staff burnout. Many new entrants to this occupation work in child welfare type roles before transitioning to other fields.

The median employment income for the 72% of Social Workers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $70,006. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, the 59% of those who worked full-time, year-round had a median employment income of $43,600. (Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$22.15

Minimum

$32.97

Median

$44.50

Maximum

Annual Pay

$24,924

Minimum

$64,444

Median

$83,730

Maximum

Compared to: All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

Hourly Pay

$14.74

Minimum

$33.28

Median

$46.76

Maximum

Annual Pay

$5,616

Minimum

$44,335

Median

$92,599

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Social workers help individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, and organizations develop the skills and resources they need to enhance social functioning and social environments. They provide counselling, therapy, and referral to other supportive social services. Social workers also respond to other social needs and issues like unemployment, racism, and poverty. They work for hospitals, school regions, social service agencies, child welfare organizations, prisons, community agencies, employee assistance programs, and Aboriginal band councils, or they may work in private practice. Social workers may specialize in fields of practice like child welfare, family services, corrections, gerontology, or addictions.

Job duties

Social workers:

  • Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, to assess their situation and problems and determine the types of services required.
  • Provide counsel and therapy to help clients develop skills to deal with and resolve their social and personal problems.
  • Plan assistance programs for clients including referral to agencies that provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, medical treatment, and other services.
  • Investigate cases of child abuse or neglect and take authorized protective action when necessary.
  • Serve on interdisciplinary teams of professionals working with client groups.
  • Act as advocates for client groups in the community, lobby for solutions to problems directly affecting client groups, and develop prevention and intervention programs to meet community needs.
  • Develop or advise on social policy legislation, conduct social research, and help in community development.
  • Provide mediation services and psychosocial assessments.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counselling and social programs.
  • May provide public education and consultation to professionals or groups regarding counselling services, issues, and methods.
  • May supervise other social workers.

Sample job titles

  • addiction social worker
  • case management social worker
  • caseworker - social work
  • child welfare social worker
  • coordinator of social work
  • family social worker
  • psychiatric social worker
  • school social worker
  • schools plus facilitator
  • social casework consultant
  • social worker

Skills

You should have an interest in the social welfare of others and a desire to help them. Patience, maturity, good listening skills, and an understanding of human nature are important. You must be able to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing. You must have the ability to demonstrate fair and ethical judgements and maintain confidentiality as the norm. Leadership, reasoning, and decision-making skills are also necessary.

Job requirements

  • A bachelor's degree in social work is required in Nova Scotia.
  • A master’s of social work may be required.
  • Supervised practical experience is usually required.
  • Successful completion of provincial written and oral examinations may be required.
  • Registration with a provincial governing body is mandatory to practice as a social worker in Nova Scotia.
  • Use of the titles "Social Worker" and "Registered Social Worker" is regulated in Nova Scotia.
  • Membership in a provincial association of social workers is usually required.
  • To work in the public school system a Bachelor of Education and experience working as a teacher is considered an asset.

Other considerations

Working conditions vary depending on workplace. Social workers may work irregular hours, evenings, or weekends.

By the numbers

Quick look

1,650

employed in 2016

91.2%

employed full-time

2.1%

self employed

85.5%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
14.5%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
43.3

median age

Compared to: All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

55,420

employed in 2016

76.4%

employed full-time

6.6%

self employed

64.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
36%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
43.5

median age

Where will I likely work?

51.4%

Halifax

17.2%

Cape Breton

12.1%

Annapolis Valley

12.1%

North Shore

7.3%

Southern

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

54.0%

Health care and social assistance

36.9%

Public administration

2.3%

Educational services

1.7%

Other services (except public administration)

1.7%

Finance and insurance

What is the age of Employment?

28.0%

35-44

25.0%

25-34

23.0%

45-54

15.0%

55-64

6.0%

65+

2.0%

15-24

Compared to: All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

24.2%

35-44

22.7%

45-54

21.4%

25-34

17.2%

55-64

8.4%

15-24

Top levels of education

43.6%

Bachelor

$62,816 median annual income
37.6%

Master

$72,230 median annual income
7.6%

Diploma Above Bachelor

$65,362 median annual income
5.8%

College Diploma

$49,501 median annual income
2.4%

High school

$47,951 median annual income

Compared to: All Education, Law, Government, Social and Community Services

28.9%

Bachelor

$45,929 median annual income
21.2%

College Diploma

$35,398 median annual income
16.8%

Master

$71,043 median annual income
14.6%

High school

$29,055 median annual income
4.6%

Doctorate

$100,443 median annual income

Education & training

Social Work

College or University Program

These programs prepare students for the professional practice of social welfare administration and counselling, and focus on the study of organized means of providing basic support services for vulnerable individuals and groups. They include courses in social welfare policy, case work planning, social counselling and intervention strategies, administrative procedures and regulations, and specific applications in areas like child welfare and family services, probation, employment services, and disability counselling.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Social Worker

Right to Title and Practice: This job is regulated. The job title is protected, and you may not use it without a professional licence. A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to legally do this work.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
1888 Brunswick Street, Suite 700
Halifax, NS B3J 3J8
(902) 429-7799
(902) 429-7650

Contacts

Nova Scotia College of Social Workers
Halifax, NS
Nova Scotia Department of Community Services
Various, NS
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Ottawa, ON
Association of Black Social Workers
Dartmouth, NS

Additional resources