Are you an empathetic person?
Do you hold great value for equality while helping others live a more comfortable, easier and happier life?
If you do, then starting a career as a social worker would be ideal for you.
This is an exceptional professional that focuses on helping people live better and function excellently in society.
In this blog, we will be giving you complete details on how to become a social worker in Australia.
Overview of Social work in Australia
Social workers are a vital part of Australian society. The nature of this job involves understanding the social needs of people and using the most adequate processes to help them solve these problems and develop themselves.
There are over 46,000 social workers currently employed in Australia, and there is projected to be a high demand for these professionals in the coming years.
Size of the industry
This is a highly skilled profession with over 46,000 social workers in the Australian workforce currently.
Statistics show a massive projected growth of 23.2% by 2026, making this profession a consistent and dependable career path.
Due to the general shortage of social workers, this profession is in high demand in Australia, with about 63% of the social workers population living in capital cities.
Here below is the percentage of social workers in different areas of Australia by state and territory:
- New South Wales 28.5%
- Queensland 17.0%
- Victoria 29.4%
- Western Australia 8.7%
- South Australia 10.5%
- Northern Territory 1.1%
- Tasmania 2.9%
- Australian Capital Territory 1.8%
Victoria has the highest employment rate of social workers in Australia.
This is why it is necessary to consider a potential career path when selecting a city to study. Click here to find out how to choose a city to study in Australia.
Industries where social workers are needed
- Aged and Residential care
- Special medical care services
- Ambulance services
- Pathology and diagnostic services
Other industries account for the remaining 25.9% of the social workers.
The industries include:
- Public Administration and Safety 17.1%
- Education and Training 4.8%
- Other services 2.9%
- Other industries 1.3%
Hours of work
In Australia, around 64% of employed social workers work full-time hours. Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their primary job.
This is similar to the average working hours for all jobs in Australia (44 hours per week).
About 1/3rd of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
The average age of social workers is 42 years, which is higher than the all-jobs average of 40 years. A large share of workers (27.6%) are within the age bracket of (25 to 34) years.
With over 46,000 social workers in Australia, females account for 84% of the entire workforce, while males account for 16%; this is 36% above the all-jobs average (48%) for females and 32% above the all-jobs average for males.
What are the skills required to become a social worker in Australia?
Here are some essential skills you must have to be a qualified social worker in Australia:
- Counseling and Therapy
- Conflict resolution skills
- Social Perceptiveness
- Emotional intelligence
- Social Work
- Caring and empathy
- Creative thinking
- Relationship sustainability skills
- Human rights knowledge
- Listening skills
- Oral comprehension
- Case management
What are the tasks and duties of a social worker in Australia?
Here are some of the common tasks and duties performed by social workers:
- Indulge in proper research aimed at helping clients meet their needs
- Help people access support services like housing, fun activities, welfare, employment and healthcare
- Provide emotional support for people with disabilities, substance abuse, abuse, mental health issues etc.
- Maintaining contact with clients and evaluating their progress
- Join hands with corporations, support and volunteer groups
- Contribute immensely to social welfare policies
- Help volunteer and community groups execute programs
- Assist cluster groups in getting social skills, learning and building a support system
- Managing case records and reports
The tasks and duties of the social workers may vary based on the specific job they are performing.
How much do social workers earn in Australia?
Social workers’ earnings are quite relative depending on specialisation, skill set, experience and qualification.
On average, a social worker’s full-time earnings are $1,736 per week, which is much higher than the average pay of $1,593 per week in Australia.
The average hourly pay for social workers is $45, which is more than all job’s average pay ($41 per hour).
Steps: How to become a social worker in Australia?
Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to become a social worker in Australia:
Step 1: Complete a degree in social work
To work as a social worker in Australia, you need an undergraduate degree in social work from an accredited university or a degree in any closely related field.
You can also get a post-graduate degree if you have completed relevant tertiary education in the past.
- Bachelor of Social Work
Before starting an undergraduate degree, you must have completed your senior secondary education having studied the subjects required by your proposed university.
As an international student, you are also required to demonstrate English language proficiency by taking a test like IELTS, PTE, TOEFL, CAE etc. Many universities will need 6.0 in the IELTS test as a minimum score. Some might even require higher score than that.
The bachelor’s degree program in social work runs for 4-years of full-time study depending on the university, where both practical and theoretical experiences are acquired.
The average cost of getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 per year.
- Masters of Social Work
A Master’s Degree in Social Work runs for 2 years of full-time study. This post-graduate program offers various specialisations like child, youth, family, welfare etc.
The average tuition fee for a master’s degree in social work ranges from $15,000 per year to $30,000 per year.
You can study Masters of Social Work degree even if your undergraduate degree is not in Social Work. But usually, universities expect students to have at least one year of full-time studies in social sciences or equivalent as a minimum entry requirement to this course.
You will also need to meet minimum English proficiency requirements as per the institute you are applying for. Many universities require an overall score of 7.0 in IELTS test.
You can check all the entry requirements for the students here.
Please note if you are migrating to Australia and have already completed your social work degree overseas, then you will need to apply for a skills’ assessment of your degree through AASW.
They can assess if you are allowed to work in the social work industry with your overseas degree or not. They can assess your degree for both migration and employment purposes.
Step 2: Apply for membership with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is a professional representative of all social workers who operate together and personally to contribute to society in a manner that is devoted to promoting social justice, inclusiveness, and welfare.
After completing your degree in social work, you will need to apply for membership with AASW.
An annual fee of $725 is required for membership in this association, which includes insurance.
Here is a list of accredited programs by AASW.
Step 3: Start working and gain extensive work experience
Social work is a very rewarding and challenging career. No day will be the same in this job role.
Once you complete your degree, you can start looking for work in the social work industry.
Interviews for getting jobs in the social work industry can be technical as you are usually asked to demonstrate your knowledge through case studies questions.
Once you get a job in the social work industry, it will be important for you to gain extensive work experience in the field for getting to the higher management positions.
Gaining extensive experience in the industry can open another door for your career in academics, and other specialised areas like family counselling etc.
What are some popular institutions to study social work in Australia?
Some of the popular universities in Australia to study social work include:
- University of Sydney
- University of Melbourne
- Deakin University
- University of Western Sydney
- Griffith University
- University of South Australia
- RMIT University
- Australian College of Applied Psychology
- Charles Sturt University
Future growth of the social work career in Australia
There is a significant growth expected in the social work occupation, making it a viable career option.
There are various specialisations in this career which means different job opportunities in different fields. Social workers are employed by the government, community centers, non-governmental organisations, and hospitals.
Some social workers become self-employed as therapists, counsellors, social policy activists and so on.
However, it’s important to note that the satisfaction in this career comes from a point of offering help and being enthusiastic about making a better life for everyone possible.
And this is everything you need to know about how to become a social worker in Australia. Let us know the next career you would like us to cover in the comment section below.