Social Workers - NOC 4152

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If you are interested in working as a Social Worker in Canada, you will be pleased to know that the job outlook for your occupation in Canada is extremely positive. You can use this overview of the Canadian employment prospects in your field to start planning your immigration and settlement in Canada.

To find out if you qualify for a Canadian immigration (permanent resident) visa please fill out our free eligibility assessment.

 
Social workers help individuals, couples, families, groups, communities and organizations develop the skills and resources they need to enhance social functioning and provide counselling, therapy and referral to other supportive social services. Social workers also respond to other social needs and issues such as unemployment, racism and poverty. They are employed by hospitals, school boards, social service agencies, child welfare organizations, correctional facilities, community agencies, employee assistance programs and Aboriginal band councils, or they may work in private practice.

(Description from Employment and Social Development Canada's National Occupation Classification, used by Canadian immigration officers, to assess an applicant's work experience.)

Social workers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Interview clients individually, in families, or in groups, to assess their situation and problems and determine the types of services required
  • Provide counsel and therapy to assist clients in developing skills to deal with and resolve their social and personal problems
  • Plan programs of assistance for clients including referral to agencies that provide financial assistance, legal aid, housing, medical treatment and other services
  • Investigate cases of child abuse or neglect and take authorized protective action when necessary
  • Serve as members on interdisciplinary teams of professionals working with client groups
  • Act as advocates for client groups in the community, lobby for solutions to problems directly affecting client groups and develop prevention and intervention programs to meet community needs
  • Develop or advise on social policy legislation, conduct social research and assist in community development
  • Provide mediation services and psychosocial assessments
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counselling and social programs
  • May provide public education and consultation to professionals or groups regarding counselling services, issues and methods
  • May supervise other social workers.
  • Social workers may specialize in fields of practice such as child welfare, family services, corrections, gerontology or addictions.
 

  • addiction social worker
  • case management consultant – social work
  • case management social worker
  • case work consultant – social work
  • casework supervisor – social work
  • caseworker – social work
  • certified social worker
  • child welfare social worker
  • children's aid investigator
  • co-ordinator of social work
  • family social worker
  • geriatric social worker
  • group social worker
  • medical social worker
  • psychiatric social worker
  • registered social worker
  • school social worker
  • social casework consultant
  • social work co-ordinator
  • social work officer
  • social work officer – military
  • social work supervisor
  • social worker
  • social worker, groups
  • social workers supervisor
 

Why your employment prospects in Canada are excellent:

  • Social workers are employed by hospitals, school boards, social service agencies, welfare organizations and correctional facilities. They may also work in private practice.
  • Social work is neither seasonal nor very sensitive to overall economic conditions. However, it is sensitive to government spending priorities.
  • The role of social workers is changing, especially in the health care sector where they must increasingly work in teams with other health care professionals.
Find out about the salary ranges for Social Workers in different Canadian cities with our Canada Salary Calculator

Some areas of Canada where your occupation is in demand:

While there is a shortage of Social Workers across Canada, the following cities and provinces listed below have a particularly high demand for this occupation.

British Columbia
  • Over half of all social workers in the province are employed by the health care and family-serving agencies, with the remainder employed in government.
  • Employers include Aboriginal band councils, community agencies, correctional facilities, child welfare agencies, hospitals, school boards, and social service agencies.
  • Jobs are fairly evenly distributed throughout the province in relation to population distribution. However, employment is slightly higher than average in the Vancouver Island and Coast, Thompson-Okanagan and Cariboo regions.
  • Industry sources report that B.C.'s changing demographics will result in an increasing proportion of social work jobs in urban areas. However, there will continue to be a strong need for workers in rural areas.
  • The aging population will create increased employment in gerontology, including jobs with the many ‘supported living’ complexes catering to seniors.
  • With hospitals emphasizing an ‘early discharge’ of patients, there will be a need for in-house social workers to coordinate plans for individual patients by making sure that necessary medical services and social supports are in place.
  • In addition, generally, there is a growing demand for those with clinical specialities.
  • Estimated employment in 2010 throughout B.C. is at 5530 workers.
  • Projected new jobs to be created between 2010 and 2015 is at 330, while the majority of jobs will be created through retirements, estimated to create 1050 new jobs in the same period.

Northern British Columbia:
  • Employment prospects are considered to be good in this local area.
  • Potential employers include: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cariboo Friendship Society, Carrier Sekani Family Services, Fairview Management services, Knucwentwecw Society and West Moberly First Nations.

Thompson Okanagan Kootenay Area, British Columbia:
  • Prospects are good as employment levels are expected to increase over the next few years.
  • Vancouver Island and Victoria:
  • Employment prospects are good. Many vacancies will arise from the replacement needs associated with the ageing workforce.
  • Potential employers include: Central Care Corporation, Community Option or Children & Families, Hulitan Social Services Society, Port Alberni Friendship Centre, Victoria Native Friendship Centre, and Victoria Youth Empowerment Society.

Alberta
  • Prospects are good throughout the province.

Edmonton, Alberta:
  • Many vacancies will arise from the replacement needs associated with the ageing workforce.
  • Prevention, gerontology as well as psychosocial evaluation, psychotherapy and family mediation services are particularly in demand.
  • An increasing number of jobs are in private practice and the community sector.

Saskatchewan
  • Nearly 50% of all social workers in the province were at least 45 years of age in 2006. Job vacancies will arise in the next few years as many older social workers retire or take new positions.

Regina Area, Saskatchewan:
  • An aging workforce will create good employment opportunities in this field.
  • Within the region the majority of jobs are concentrated within the public sector with increasing numbers found in private practice and the community service sector.
  • Many opportunities exist for those seeking work counselling aboriginal people.

Saskatoon and Rural West, Saskatchewan:
  • Employment opportunities are considered good in these local areas.
  • Within the region the majority of jobs are concentrated within the public sector with increasing numbers found in private practice and the community service sector.
  • A significant amount of new jobs will need to be filled in the next few years as many older social workers retire.
  • Opportunities exist in counselling Aboriginal people in these regions.

Manitoba
  • Employment prospects for social workers are expected to be good in the period 2010 to 2014.
  • Employment in Manitoba in 2010 is estimated at 2,185.
  • A growing elderly population and the disabled will require increasingly more support from social service programs.
  • As more immigrants come to Manitoba, the need for settlement services will expand.
  • Job prospects are especially good with experience in child welfare, restorative justice, and substance abuse counselling.
  • A proportionally larger share of jobs for social workers are located in Winnipeg.
  • Employment is concentrated in Health Care and Social Assistance (72%), followed by Public Administration (16%), Educational Services (6%) and Other Services (except Public Administration) (4%).

Northern Manitoba:
  • Employment prospects are good for social workers in Northern Manitoba.
  • Employment opportunities exist due to an increase in jobs available as well as from vacancies resulting from employee turnover and retirement.
  • Many social workers are employed by government departments or government funded non-profit agencies. The majority of work is with child and family services, alcohol treatment centers, probation programs and women's shelters. Employment is also found in hospitals, schools, and personal care homes. These may include organizations administered by Aboriginal organizations.

Selkirk Area, Manitoba:
  • There is a high demand for social workers in rural areas, such as the Selkirk area, and a growing elderly population is increasing demand.
  • There has been a steady flow of job vacancies for social workers in the area.

Southern Manitoba:
  • Prospects for finding employment in this region are good.
  • The current trend is to provide community based and home-care health services rather than institutional care. Private practice in counseling services or partnership with a counseling psychologist will increase employment opportunities.

Winnipeg, Manitoba:
  • Employment prospects are good in this local area.
  • A growing elderly population and an aging baby boom generation will result in a demand for more health and social services which is increasing the need for gerontology social workers.
  • Good opportunities exist for counseling aboriginal people.

Nova Scotia
  • The future employment outlook for social workers in Nova Scotia is expected to be good over the next 5 years.
  • In Nova Scotia, social workers must be registered with the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers.

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia:
  • Social work services in health care are increasing, such as ensuring care and support services are available to those leaving hospitals.
  • The aging population is increasing demand for social workers in the area.
  • Potential employers include but are not limited to: Addiction Services, Braemore Home Corporation, Cape Breton District Health Translation House, Department of Community Services, Native Alcohol & Drug Abuse & Counselling Association, Leeside Transition House and Island Community Justice Society.

Ontario
  • Employment opportunities for social workers are expected to be good over the next five years.

Northwestern Ontario:
  • Employment prospects are considered to be good in Northwestern Ontario.
  • There are about 780 social workers employed in Northwestern Ontario, making this an occupational group of significant size. As with most large occupational groups, replacement needs due to retirement are expected to create a large number of job vacancies in the next few years.
  • The majority of social workers in Northwestern Ontario work in the health and social service system.
  • Applicants with a Masters degree or higher will have the best opportunities.

Toronto Region, Ontario:
  • Employment prospects for social workers are good for the Toronto region.
  • Increased funding to public health and social services as the population ages will contribute to increased employment opportunities.
  • In addition, placement of workers nearing retirement will contribute to the availability of opportunities in this field.
  • Employment prospects for social workers will be greatest for individuals with advanced degrees and experience in fields such as substance abuse, geriatrics, mental health, and child welfare.
  • Within the greater Toronto area, where many immigrants and refugees settle, as well as
  • within First Nations communities, language and cultural skills are an asset.

Prince Edward Island
  • The chances of qualified Social Workers finding employment on PEI are considered to be good.
  • The employment opportunities are good for social workers who are interested in working in child protection services.
  • Most social workers in P.E.I. work for the provincial government in various health settings and out-reach agencies providing health and social services.

Yukon Territory
  • Employment prospects are good throughout the province.
  • Employment levels are expected to increase over the next few years. Increased employment will arise from the replacement needs associated with the ageing workforce.
  • Prevention, gerontology as well as psychosocial evaluation, psychotherapy and family mediation services provide particularly good opportunities for social workers.
  • An increasing number of jobs are in private practice and the community sector.

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