Social Work

Have you always wanted to give back to the community? Have you found pleasure in helping others and improving the world around us all? Do you want to make a difference by helping to alleviate injustice and oppression for those less fortunate around the world and here in Canada. Majoring in Social Work within the Department of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, will expose you to modern-day views on justice, human rights, law and philosophy as you explore the social work arena, its theory and practical applications. You will gain knowledge of contemporary approaches to social issues such as morality, tradition and custom and attempts at dealing with oppression, be it gender, race, status or aged- based.

Below is a sample list of some future choices to explore following studies in Social Work. This list is not exhaustive but it provides a solid idea of what fellow graduates have gone on to do and what potential careers a Social Work degree can offer. Some options are more directly associated with specific areas of Social Work than others.

  • Aboriginal Rights Advocate
  • Activist
  • Addictions Counsellor
  • Art Therapist
  • Career Counsellor
  • Case Manager
  • Charity Organization Director
  • Child Protective Services Worker
  • Children’s Rights Advocate
  • Community Centre Director
  • Community Developer
  • Disability Counsellor
  • Employment Advisor
  • Family Counsellor
  • Family Lawyer
  • Family Mediator
  • Foreign Service Worker
  • Foster Care Supervisor
  • Fundraiser
  • Hospital Social Worker
  • Hospital Discharge Planner
  • Housing Facilitator
  • Human Rights Lawyer
  • Gerontology Social Worker
  • Government Worker
  • Group Therapist
  • Immigration Lawyer
  • Immigration Rights Advocate
  • Legal Aid Worker
  • Marriage Counsellor
  • Mental Health Counsellor
  • Newcomer Support Counsellor
  • NGO Worker or Director
  • Policy Advisor
  • Rehabilitation Consultant
  • School Social Worker
  • Shelter Supervisor
  • Social Worker
  • Women’s Rights Advocate

Some of these career choices may require additional education or preparation in the form of graduate studies, experiential education or professional formative courses and exams. For a more in-depth description of some of the careers mentioned above visit Career Cruising (login information can be found on the home page of the Career Centre's online system) or the National Occupational Classification website.

Skills Developed through a Social Work Degree

A background in Social Work ensures that you develop the skills and mindset to tackle many different professional challenges. Here are just a few of the skills a Social Work degree can help you develop:

Core Social Work Skills

  • An ability to think critically about ideas, social constructs and realities and assess and propose potential solutions to the problems faced by agencies, governments and individuals wanting to make a difference
  • An understanding of social theory and philosophy and its application in the struggle to end poverty and discrimination
  • An Ability to carry out research according to typical methodological practices in the field of Social Work and the Humanities in general

Communication, Data Gathering and Organizational Skills

  • The ability to present your thoughts clearly and intelligently in written statements and written opinion pieces
  • Deduction of information from various sources and the ability to concentrate on relevant resources
  • The capacity to critically analyze problems, think creatively and make sound decisions while considering different sides of an argument
  • The ability to explain complex ideas clearly to others and to apply complex theoretical concepts to everyday practice and professional dilemmas
  • The skills to collect various types of information, assess them, analyze and incorporate potential linkages from different fields, put them into writing and efficiently convey your message and the goal of your work

Management and Teamwork Skills

  • The capacity to lead and interact with a variety of people with different approaches and personal and professional backgrounds
  • Skills enabling you to work effectively in group situations, partaking in decision-making, leading and contributing in various capacities to the ultimate success of the team and task
  • The ability to debate, persuade, mediate and present your thoughts and opinions to others, as well as the capacity to recognize and incorporate other potential solutions or applications to given problems
  • The capability to identify priorities and proper courses of action, to plan the execution of tasks and to determine and delegate responsibilities to group members to most effectively carry out projects

Professional Associations and Organizations

Knowing the industry and how to excel in it after receiving a degree are key elements of future success. University study sets up the building blocks you will need to develop and enhance your understanding and knowledge in your career. Being part of a professional organization or network and gaining further insight through training are excellent ways of increasing your knowledge of the field. The following is a selection of organizations related to the field of Social Work that you may want to visit as you research career options for Social Work graduates.

Canadian Association of Social Workers
Ontario Association of Social Workers
Oxfam
Amnesty International
National Association of Social Workers
York University School of Social Work website