Inside Clinical Social Worker Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"The Reality Of Human Services...
Although schooling prepares future social workers in theory, I have encountered a lot of issues that were not addressed in my stories. Having a BA is an advantage, but I was surprised at the amount of things that are not talked about in school." (Case Manager; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Sociology at Hunter College in New York in 2012

"Amount Of Work Is Generally More Than Expected In Relation To The Pay...
I was surprised about the amount of paperwork involved, especially the redundancy of it. Also the challenges faced due to general system bureaucracy and how to handle those who are trying to take advantage of the system while others can't seem to get their needs met. Some of these things were addressed in classroom setting but are hard to comprehend until you're actually in the position. It's also important to remember that this is a field you go into for reasons beyond financial stability as it is not a high paying career." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Social Work at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Master degree in 2000

"Social Workers Work Primarily In Hospital, Psychiatric Facilities...
It is a surprise that overwhelmingly social workers are employed in hospitals and psychiatric facilities, as opposed to social service agencies. In fact, despite using titles such as case manager and social services worker, many people employed at social service agencies do not have a Master's or Bachelor's in Social Work and have little to no formal training as social workers." (Social Worker; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, male
School: Studied Social Work at University Of South Carolina in South Carolina; completed Master degree in 2010

"Flexible Career...
I like working with the people more than I though I would before I started. I like how my schedule is not late at night." (Social Clerk; 2014)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Idaho, male
School: Studied Business at Kaplan in California; completed Professional degree in 2002

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Case Manager: "The best part of the career is the rapport you build with each individual client and the ability to make a difference in someone's life. It feels good to help people by empowering them to help themselves. Some of the worst parts are when clients refuse to take their medication and you see them relapse over and over again. It seems like they won't ever get better. Another one of the worst things is when patients don't care about helping themselves." (2011)

Career Background

Clinical Social Worker

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Being A Successful Social Worker...
Being a successful clinical social worker requires being flexible and willing to work in agencies or with populations that are different from you. Considering economic and educational disparities it is likely that the experiences of your client's are vastly different from your own. Being able to change allows you to take on jobs others won't or would feel uncomfortable doing." (Social Worker; 2014)

"How To Keep From Burning Out...
Do not take your work home with you. Have a self-care routine to keep you from burning out. Always talk to your director or supervisor about things that may be too difficult for you to handle." (Case Manager; 2014)

"Ask Questions...
I would work really hard in school so you know a lot when you're applying for jobs. I would ask a lot of questions about your job so you know what to do at all times." (Social Clerk; 2014)

"Have A Goal For Your Career And Plan Education Advancement Accordingly...
If you go into social work be prepared for a challenging yet rewarding profession, though be aware that the rewards are not necessarily financial ones. Also plan to further your education as much as possible to achieve the highest benefits, i.e. beyond bachelors degree, into Masters and Licensure. Look at what you want to do with your degree and plan education accordingly." (Social Worker; 2013)

"Know Your Clients Well...
Make sure you know your local community resources and how to make needed referrals to those places/people. Get to know each individual client and read everything in their chart and be sure to document everything that you do. Encourage everyone else to do the same. Talk to the doctors and make sure they stay current with that patient's information and prognosis. Be sure to make treatment plans individualized to a particular patient. Avoid "cookie cutter" or generic plans." (Case Manager; 2011)