I have a couple of questions

What made you decide to become a social worker? Social work is my second career. I was involved in corporate sales, but experienced a major breakdown (PTSD & Major Depressive episode). It was that experience that was the catalyst for making such a major life-change & retraining. I felt like this would be a way of making my life experiences useful and meaningful. That and I really like working with people.

Are there certain skills you think a social worker should have? Biggest "skill" you can have is empathy IMHO. I was never a particularly empathetic person, but this is a skill/mindset that you can develop. The other thing you'll develop is self-awareness; know who you are, how you feel about the world around you, what behaviours in others tend to trigger unhelpful reactions in yourself etc. You also need excellent communication skills and the ability to write clearly and concisely. Other than that, your education will include (hopefully) tools to understand the social world, counselling tools, theoretical frames for understanding human behaviours, models for intervening in the lives of others...

Around how much are you making? I work in health social work in New Zealand. The collective agreement I work under has a starting rate of NZD$ 48,000 per annum for a new practitioner - there are 6 automatic annual salary steps as the practitioner gains experience - step 6 is NZD$ 64,000. beyond that there are additional pay steps for management/supervisory roles and special skill-set roles.

What kinds of things to do do for yourself so that you don't get burnt out? First thing: KNOW YOURSELF and work in a field of practise that fits you. Because of some of my life experiences and hangups, I choose to not work in child care & protection or Justice/corrections. I enjoy health social work, and mental health social work.
Second thing: Participate actively in professional supervision - that's is not about management chats with your boss, that is having a regular clinical session with a senior/skilled practitioner where you discuss things that challenge you personally in your work Third thing: Creat professional boundaries for yourself. the client is the client, not a friend - be human and genuine, but recognise the true nature of your relationship. also I keep work and home quite seperate - I have developed rituals for myself to step into & step out of my "professional self" - sometimes I work cases that I find upsetting or challenging and these rituals help me to not bring negativity into my home life.

That was a long rant, huh? Good luck, whatever career you choose initially. And remember that in life, you do get "do-overs" - for someone who is 16 now, it's really likely you will have several careers in your working life. Isn't that awesome????

/r/socialwork Thread