Inside School Social Worker Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Nothing has really surprised me about my job, because I had been learning about it for a long time and has worked/interned long before I got it." (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, female
School: Studied Psychology at University Of Texas At Austin in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

"School Social Workers Spend Lots Of Time In Classroom...
I was surprised at how much time I would spend on administrative paperwork related to the job. I was surprised at how much time I would spend in the classroom with the entire grades of students." (School Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in South Carolina, female
School: Studied Social Work at University Of South Carolina in South Carolina; completed Master degree in 1995

"Important Social Worker Skills...
As a social worker, I am surprised by how much my actions can affect another person. It is crucial to have strong morals and the ability to communicate with others in this profession." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Psychology at Texas Tech in Texas; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I was surprised when I decided to open up my own private practice for family social working in June of 2013 after working as a school social worker for 20 years. I guess I felt that it was time for a change and I knew that I could help other family's besides helping their children in school. As of right now I still do both my private practice and school social working, but it was nice to have some change in my career that I love to do." (School Social Work; 2013)

Career: 20 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Social Work at Skidmore in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 1985

"Paper Work...
I was surprised that more of my time is spent filling out paper work than actually working with students." (School Counselor; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, female
School: Studied Social Work at Salisbury University in Maryland; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

"Emotional Toll On Youth Social Workers...
Every single day I am surprised by my job. When you train in this field, you read a lot of case studies and they seem to be pretty easy to understand and figure out ways to help. In dealing with youth, especially teenagers, the cases are sometimes devastating and emotionally draining. No amount of schooling could have prepared me for that aspect of the job On the other hand, when you help a kid out and get them the services that they need, or help place them in a better home environment, the feeling of gratitude is also immense and makes the job worth doing. Something that would surprise most people about my job is that I work an additional 5 hours a day outside of my regular working hours. These hours aren't paid, but I need to work them to stay on top of my case load." (Youth Counselor/Teacher In A School; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Social Work Mainly For Youth at Walden University in Minnesota; completed Master degree in 2008

"We Do Work Ranging From Being Someone's Support, To Filing Charts And Scheduling Appointments...
I was surprised when I started working as a social worker how much I would have in common with those I was counseling and how big of an impact a simple word or session could have on someone's life. I was also surprised by the way it affects me outside of work, such as my kids always tell me I try and council them." (Counselor; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, female
School: Studied Counseling at Seneca Highlands Avts in Pennsylvania; completed Certificate degree

"The Great Need For Social Workers...
I was surprised at the wide array of situations that I face on a daily basis. I was surprised by the great need that people have to work with someone in my profession." (School Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Nebraska, female
School: Studied Psychology at Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota; completed Bachelor degree in 2001

"The Real Happiness Comes From Helping Less Fortune People...
One of the best feelings in the world is the satisfaction we get when we can help people around us. At the end of the day, it feels complete to be human being. However, things are challenging because human problems are complex and social workers are not super being." (Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, female
School: Studied Sociology at Stratford University in Virginia; completed Master degree in 2009

"I was surprised how much I truly enjoy working with the children I work with. I expected it to be a little bit more difficult. I really do enjoy seeing them daily and talking to them. I also did not expect to become so close to the families I work with." (Child Advocate; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Early Education And Social Work at Seminole State College in Florida; completed Certificate degree in 2012

"Difficulty Engaging Guardians...
What surprised me the most is how hard it is to get parents involved in their child's life. You can spend a lot of your time convincing parents the child needs help, before you can even make a difference with the child." (School Counselor; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, male
School: Studied Counseling at Penn State in Pennsylvania; completed Master degree in 2004

"Ability To Adapt To Different Styles...
I was surprised on how many different type of students I work with. With different learning styles." (School Social Worker; 2013)

Career: 14 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Education at Holy Family College in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 1998

Best & Worst Things About This Career

School Social Worker: "The best part of this job is when a teenager trusts you enough to open up and share his or her world with you. This is when you can teach students the life skills they need. The worst part is when you fail to make a connection. Some kids will not let you in no matter what you do to gain their trust. This is when you truly get in touch with "powerlessness". Unfortunately this is a part of the reality of being a school social worker and it never gets any easier." (2010)

Social Worker: "I like doing home visits very much. I can learn so much about our students when I go to their homes. I like linking families with resources that are a real help to them. I like being consistently involved over time with a struggling family and seeing it overcome huge problems of substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and mental illness. I do not like working with belligerent parents who think I should mind my own business and not care about their child's education. I intensely dislike going to court with parents over truant students." (2010)

Career Background

School Social Worker

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

Career Video

Career Tips

"Social Worker Conditions...
Make sure that this is the profession that you want to pursue. You will be working with a range of people and it is important that you keep your wits about you." (Social Worker; 2013)

"Have The Strength To See Your Client's Pain And Suffering...
I think that when being a youth social worker, the best advice I could give is to reach out no matter how the kids act. You may not want to help the kid who is cursing you out or threatening you, but that kid needs you the most. Don't be afraid, be strong and you will make a breakthrough." (Youth Counselor/Teacher In A School; 2013)

"Be A Diplomat...
Be prepared to work on your people skills. There's a lot more diplomacy involved than actual counseling." (School Counselor; 2013)

"Adaptation And Preparation Are Key...
make sure you are prepared. And also make sure you be patient and learn to adapt." (School Social Worker; 2013)

"Being Happy Is More Joyful Than Being Successful...
Do something which gives you satisfaction, don't be simply blinded by money, power and fame." (Social Worker; 2013)

"Getting Ready For The Real World...
I would suggest if you are planning on entering the world of mental health to have an open creative non judgmental mind and work hard at helping others." (Counselor; 2013)

"Social Work Licensing...
Be sure to know the laws of licensure in your state. Many states have differing qualifications regarding licensure. Not all states have social work licenses that are transferable from state to state." (School Social Worker; 2013)

Make sure that you are prepared with listen to everything a child has to say. You will be shocked at times with how much young children have seen and been through." (School Counselor; 2013)

"Get Real Experience In College...
The best tip I would give is to gain all the experience you can before you leave college. Volunteer or get jobs or internships in any human services type work or organization. Have an open-mind and be willing to relocate." (School Social Worker; 2013)

"Be Prepared For Families With Extreme Problems...
Be sure that you are able to handle working with children and families who are in a rough situation. Sometimes it can be very difficult to see a family in distress and not get emotionally attached." (Child Advocate; 2013)

"Research Various Social Work Paths...
There are different types of credentials for social working. I chose from my school social working to work with special-ed children. Make sure you ultimately choose the right path that you would like to take when choosing this career." (School Social Work; 2013)

"Stay Detached...
Don't get emotional." (Counselor; 2013)

"Good Listening Skills Required...
It is important to have a genuine interest in helping people. You simply must like kids. Being a good listener is crucial. Although this may sound obvious, listening is a skill which needs to be developed and practiced. If you're an empathetic person, you already have one of the most important skills necessary to be a good social worker. Lastly, good boundaries are critical. Do not get so caught up in the lives of the people you are working with that you lose yourself." (School Social Worker; 2010)

"Volunteer In Your Community...
If you are interested in working as a social worker in any capacity, volunteer in your community at agencies that help people, such as domestic violence shelters, homeless soup kitchens, or groups that work with people in prison. Social work is a wide-open field that can satisfy your interest in helping people. If you are interested specifically in school social work, volunteer with after-school or tutoring programs. Offer to mentor a student in your community. A woman can offer to co-lead groups for girls; a man can serve as a mentor or work with groups as well. Schools have many fewer men involved than women and would welcome a male volunteer." (Social Worker; 2010)