There are many occupations in the field of social work with a range of titles such as Family Social Worker, Community Social Services Worker, Medical Social Worker, Social Policy Planner, Marriage Counsellor, Addictions Counsellor, Employment Counselor, Guidance Counsellor, and many more.
Some of these positions are regulated. Social Work is a regulated profession in Ontario – to call oneself a “Social Worker” implies registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers. That said, there are many jobs that we might think of as “social work”, or jobs that are related to social work, that don’t necessarily require registration.
Registration with the OCSWSSW requires completion of a particular diploma or degree. The College’s website outlines which programs are acceptable for registration and also provides information on applying for registration as an Internationally Educated Social Worker.
In a broader sense there are many jobs that involve similar skills and similar duties as that of a registered social worker but don’t have the same requirements for regulation. There is a broad spectrum of roles in the community that serve the needs of people in many different ways. Employment Counsellors, Addictions Counsellors, Case Workers, Debt Counsellors, Street Outreach Workers, Group Home Workers, and Guidance Counsellors, are all examples of jobs that don’t necessarily require Social Work credentials or may require other qualifications and experience.
Specializations are very common. Some positions involve “direct practice”, which involves providing services such as individual counselling, group work, or community development. Some positions involve “indirect practice”, which means work with government or non-government organizations, formulating, analyzing and evaluating social policies and programs or work with advocacy or research.
What position is right for you?
How do you know what you will need? Each community and each community agency will be different. One agency may require Registered Social Worker credentials while another may value related experience higher, whereas others may be willing to train the right person. Your targeted job search will require you to research the social services job you want and research potential employers to come to a better understanding of what you’ll need to succeed.
Networking and volunteering, particularly if you are seeking work in this field without Social Work credentials, will be extremely important. This could be a long journey – selecting the work you want to do, gaining the skills and experience required, and making helpful connections along the way. Success will rely on a solid plan, and we recommend working with an Employment Counsellor in an ongoing way to keep on track in this complicated journey.