If you are empathetic and passionate about helping people, a career as a Social Worker could be for you.
Social Workers are responsible for helping and improving the lives of the individuals, families and communities they serve through counseling, psychotherapy and mediation.
You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:
- English Home Language or First Additional Language
- Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
- Life Orientation
The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Social Work:
- University of Free State (UFS) – APS of 30
- University of Cape Town (UCT) – APS of 450 (See how to calculate your APS for UCT)
- University of Stellenbosch – No APS required (the higher your marks the better)
- University of Pretoria – APS of 30
- Nelson Mandela University (NMU) – APS of 36
- University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – APS of 34
- University of Johannesburg (UJ) – APS of 30
- University of the Western Cape (UWC) – APS of 30
- University of Fort Hare – APS of 25
- University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) – APS of 28/30
- UNISA – APS of 21
- North West University (NWU) – APS of 28
- University of Limpopo – APS of 23/25
- University of Venda (UniVen) – APS of 26
- University of Zululand (UniZulu) – APS of 25
To practice as a Social Worker in South Africa, individuals must complete a Social Work Degree (in Social Work) and successfully register with the South African Association of Social Service Professionals (SACSSP).
You will need to show:
- active listening and communication skills
- empathy and social awareness
- emotional intelligence
- inner strength
- critical thinking and effective problem-solving skills
You can work in one of the following sectors:
- Private practice
- Welfare organisations
- Government/non-governmental organisations
- Governmental institutions, such as prisons and hospitals
In most jobs, you will work in normal office hours (8/9am – 5pm); however, some may expect you to work out of these working hours on rotation or on call.
Salary can range, depending on your experience and what sector you choose to work in but according to PayScale, the average pay for a Social Worker is between R92 000 and R268 000 per year.
Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Social Worker:
- Working with vulnerable groups of people. For example, the elderly, children and the poverty-stricken.
- Working out of the office and visiting people in their homes, at school or in hospital.
- Managing and creating care plans for your patients.
- Assessing individuals’ situations and needs and intervening appropriately, even if the intervention may feel difficult or uncomfortable.
- Crisis management, which will involve you having to think on your feet and respond quickly.