Social Workers assess the social needs of individuals, families and groups, assist and empower people to develop and use the skills and resources needed to resolve social and other problems, and further human wellbeing and human rights, social justice and social development.
acting as a facilitator between clients in need and community services
assessing resources for health, welfare, recreation, housing, employment and other community services
providing leadership and assistance for the implementation of pilot projects in community development and self-help, and planning and implementing research projects to address client needs, organisation goals and social policy
cooperating with community organisations, social agencies and voluntary groups to improve services and develop new services
conducting individual and family case interviews to identify the nature and extent of clients' problems
assisting clients to understand and resolve problems by providing information, acting as a mediator and referring them to community and self-help agencies
analysing, developing, promoting and implementing social policies through the use of practice experience, research, analytic frameworks, and negotiation skills to respond to social need through a fair, equitable and effective allocation of social resource
monitoring the progress of clients by maintaining contact
compiling case records and reports
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow very strongly
- is likely to reach 49,300 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 64% of people employed as Social Workers work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is similar to the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 41 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
More than a third of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $1,736 per week, this is higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,479
- 1 in 4 earn more than $1,993
Median hourly earnings are $45, this is more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Social Workers||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
Most Social Workers work in the Health care and social assistance industry. They are also employed in industries like:
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Social Workers||All Jobs Average|
Around 63% of Social Workers live in capital cities, similar to the all jobs average of 62%.
Victoria and South Australia have a large share of employment relative to their population size.
The regions with the largest share of workers are:
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Social Workers is 42 years. This is similar to the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 84% of the workforce. This is 36 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Social Workers||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.3||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
Either a bachelor degree in social work or a bachelor in a related field followed by a masters in social work is needed to work as a Social Worker.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Social Workers||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||24.0||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||1.0||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Social Workers who are responsible and independent, yet who can also work well in a team.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Reading work related information.
Looking for ways to help people.
Talking to others.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
59%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
57%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
52%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Teaching people how to do something.
46%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Understanding needs and product requirements to create a design.
Bringing people together and trying to sort out their differences.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
98%Therapy and counselling
Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and career counselling and guidance.
Human behaviour; differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; research methods; assessing and treating disorders.
87%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
72%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
68%Sociology and anthropology
Group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
53%Philosophy and theology
Philosophical systems and religions, including their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and impact on society.
46%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
43%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
43%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
43%Medicine and dentistry
Diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities, including preventive health-care measures.
38%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
36%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
34%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
30%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
Moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road.
Foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Communicate by speaking.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
Read and understand written information.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
48%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
See details that are far away.
45%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
43%Speed of recognition
Quickly make sense of and organize things you can see like letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Remember things like words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
Do two or more things at the same time.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
83%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
82%Helping and caring for others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, or emotional support.
77%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
76%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
73%Negotiating and resolving conflicts
Handling complaints and disagreements, and negotiating with people.
72%Working with the public
Greeting or serving customers, clients or guests, and public speaking or performing.
69%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
67%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
66%Giving expert advice
Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups.
66%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
66%Coaching and developing others
Working out the needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or helping them to improve.
66%Communicating with the public
Giving information to the public, business or government by telephone, in writing, or in person.
64%Training and teaching others
Understanding the needs of others, developing training programs, and teaching or instructing.
62%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
61%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
60%Providing office support
Doing day-to-day office work such as filing and processing paperwork.
57%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
55%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
48%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Interests and demands
Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Use electronic mail.
Talk on the telephone.
94%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
Work with people in a group or team.
90%Contact with the public
Work with customers or the public.
90%Disease or infection
Be exposed to disease or infections.
90%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
89%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
87%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
Work to strict deadlines.
82%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
81%Angry or unpleasant people
Deal with unpleasant, angry, or rude people.
Deal with conflict or disagreements.
81%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
81%Physically close to people
Work physically close to other people.
77%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
72%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
68%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 21-1022.00 - Healthcare Social Workers.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.