School Social Worker Job Description: Top Duties and Requirements

A School Social Worker is a trained professional who offers counselling, therapy, and referral services for students’ mental, behavioural, and academic health within the school system. Their duties include interviewing students, parents, and teachers to assess challenges, provide therapy and mediation services, and administering testing to determine appropriate counselling or therapy.

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School Social Worker duties and responsibilities

A School Social Worker interacts closely with students and school staff to support the students’ mental health. Working with individuals or within a group, they offer counselling and therapy in addition to skill development. Some of the duties and responsibilities of a School Social Worker may include:

  • Providing academic and classroom support to students, teachers, parents, and school administrators
  • Providing individual and group counselling and therapy
  • Offering referrals to other supportive social services within the community
  • Assist students in developing skills for personal and social challenges
  • Investigating child abuse or neglect and taking appropriate action
  • Administer testing and assessments for behavioural and learning challenges
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of counselling and social programs
  • Providing education and training to other professionals and community groups
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What does a School Social Worker do?

School Social Workers work within the school system to support students through their academic journey. They work closely with students, parents, teachers, and administration staff to provide counselling and therapy as required. They also provide referrals to outside social services if needed. A School Social Worker helps students apply for social program funding and advise on policies and legislation. They may conduct social research programs, write educational articles and papers, and develop prevention and intervention programs within the community.

School Social Worker skills and qualifications

A School Social Worker interacts with a wide variety of people every day. Being an excellent communicator and listener, and being highly organized are crucial skills of the position. The ability to maintain confidentiality is a vital quality of a successful School Social Worker. Some other skills and qualifications include:

  • Ability to assess situations and determine what services are needed
  • Strong listening skills with sound judgement
  • Ability to remain objective and nonjudgmental to every demographic
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to communicate effectively both written and verbally
  • Patience and the desire to help others with different points of view
  • Willingness to undergo a criminal record check and vulnerable sector record check
  • Emotional stability and maturity to handle sensitive topics and information

School Social Worker experience requirements

A successful School Social Worker has experience with a wide range of economic, cultural, and educational backgrounds. Typically, a School Social Worker has practical experience under a seasoned Social Worker’s supervision before working independently. Look for candidates with knowledge of the available community social services in the area to make well-informed referrals. It is an asset if candidates have any relevant experience working with children.

School Social Worker education and training requirements

In Canada, the title of Social Worker is regulated across all provinces and territories, whether working in a school or other field. To become a School Social Worker, all provinces and territories require a bachelor’s degree in social work. Alberta is an exception, where an associate’s degree or college diploma in social work is also accepted. Typically, supervised practical experience is required along with the successful completion of written and oral exams.

Look for candidates who are registered with a local governing body and have a membership with your province or territory’s Association of Social Workers. 

School Social Worker salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average wage for a School Social Worker in Canada is $34.26 per hour. The specific salary depends on factors like the candidate’s experience, education, school location, and company.

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School Social Worker job description FAQs

What is the difference between a Social Worker and a School Social Worker?

The two positions have the same educational and experience requirements and typically similar duties and skills. A School Social Worker specializes in working within the school system and focuses on students’ mental health support. Knowledge of student-specific resources and additional classroom support is role-specific for a School Social Worker.

What is the difference between a School Social Worker and a School Counsellor?

A School Social Worker focuses on the mental health of the student, including personal and social issues. They provide therapy and counselling services and referrals to other supportive social services in the community. A School Counsellor focuses on a student’s academic achievements and progress. They advising on suitable career paths, educational opportunities, and administer intelligence and aptitude testing.

Both professions work together and often provide referrals to one another for overall academic student success.

What should you look for in a School Social Worker's resume?

When reviewing candidates’ resumes, ensure they are a designated Social Worker by looking for evidence of registration with your local governing body. They should also have a membership with your province or territory’s Social Work Association. Look for volunteer positions in youth work or social work, as this provides relevant skills that can be transferrable to the role.

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