au pair

How to become a social worker

by Felicia on Jan 16, 2020
Become a social worker
During your Au Pair stay, you might have wondered  about your future. Au Pairing is a wonderful experience but it’s temporary and figuring out what you really want to do next can be harder than you imagined. That’s why we gathered a list of possible careers that share something with the Au Pair program, such as skills and qualities, types of jobs and responsibilities. Since working with the Host Kids is one of the key aspects of the Au Pair program, the following career maybe interesting for those who have enjoyed their time with the kids.

What is a social worker and what does a social worker do?

Everybody is more or less familiar with this job. Movies and literature usually show characters who have to deal with difficult situations everyday. In “pop culture” the  social worker saves kids who come from a complicated family background, helping them to find a foster family. But that’s not the only thing social workers do.
Let’s focus on what a social worker is. The International Federation of Social Workers defines this career as “a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversity are central to social work”. The social worker works within, with and for the society, aiming to improve its general well-being. 
 
The broad definition of social work covers different kinds of tasks that this profession involves. Social workers generally help individuals, as counselors who take into consideration the whole social environment that may have an influence on one's life. Social workers can work with small groups of people or individuals, with different problems like poverty, abuse, addiction, unemployment, disability and so on. They not only counsel but serve as a connection between the people and the community, including all its services.
Another possibility is working with nonprofit or public organizations, schools and hospitals. Dealing with a bigger community, they are in charge of changing the whole social system, in order to facilitate the most vulnerable people.
According to their job, the social worker must engage with the client and help them through the healing process, giving the necessary support and encouragement.

Different types of social workers

As previously mentioned, a social worker can either deal with individuals or work in a bigger organization, for a whole community. There are obviously different kinds of social workers, according to the beneficiary of the service.
Child, Family and School Social Workers: these social workers help children, families and elderly people. When it comes to kids, they intervene when the family isn’t able to take care of them, finding a foster care and interviewing possible foster parents. They also work in schools whenever there is a case of abuse, even to promote awareness among the students against phenomena like bullism.
Financial Social Workers: they focus on people with low or middle income, mediating between them and the financial institutions, which are often unavailable because of social barriers. Their main focus is developing people’s financial awareness, in order to improve their quality of life and well-being. 
Public Health Social Workers: they help ill people and patients with chronic diseases, making sure that they get adequate care and easy access to the public resources. Public Health Social Workers provide families with counselling when it comes to coping with a serious illness, like Alzheimer's disease, or natural disasters.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: they help people with mental health and substance abuse issues. They take part in setting the right therapy and they promote prevention initiatives. Those social workers can work on the street, doing research and interviews, in order to develop the most adequate prevention plan for a certain area.
Community Social Workers: they focus on specific communities and their main goal is to build an efficient social structure, on which the community can rely on.

How much does a social worker earn?

The earning varies from country to country. In the US, a social worker would get approximately $ 42.000 a year, whereas in the UK the average income can be between £ 20.000 and £ 40.000, depending on the qualification. In Spain a social worker would get around € 18.000 a year; in France you would get around € 28.000, in Italy € 20.000 and in Germany between 30.000 and 40.000 € per year.

How to become a social worker

In order to become a social worker you need at least a bachelor's degree in social sciences. A master's is not always required, but it may be necessary if you want to specialize in a certain career. In most countries you must get a license to become a social worker: this may be possible through internships, official exams or extra certifications.

Au Pairs and social work: things in common

As an Au Pair, not only you have gained experience with your Host Kids, you have also seen how different families work. It can be extremely useful to have seen with your own eyes that not all families follow the same rules. A social worker has to be aware of this fact, when it comes to intervene in a family’s life. The relationship with children and families is something that the Au Pair program shares with the Social Worker.
Getting to know another culture has given you an open mindset, one of the fundamental requirements of a social worker. In fact, social workers often have to deal with minorities or people with different socioeconomic backgrounds: refugees, immigrants are often the main beneficiary of social services. 

Can I become a social worker?

Everybody can become a social worker, but not everybody can be a social worker. As for every job which has to deal with people, the social worker is constantly under great pressure. In order to fulfil the aim of general well-being, a social worker sees a wide variety of realities, often extreme ones. Abused children, ill people, addicts, minorities, inmates, you must be ready to face harsh situations. Self-control and self-respect are fundamental because you can’t change the world alone, but, on the other hand, it’s a highly satisfying job. You would provide people with a better life and you will take part in their healing process. Hardly any other job can be more fulfilling. 
Here is a list of skills that a social worker should have:
  • patience and tolerance
  • emotional intelligence: empathy
  • capable of setting boundaries
  • determination
  • organisation and interpersonal skills
  • communication skills
  • leadership and problem solving skills
If you liked this article, but you’re not sure whether this career suits you, have a look at our job series. You may find another career path!
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Some Thoughts...
Jocyl
Jan, 18, 2020 - 01:01 pm
can i apply as a social worker?because i love to do this kind of job..and i’m a graduate of bachelor in science major in Commerce..hope to hear your reply..
AuPair.com
Jan, 20, 2020 - 09:01 am
Hello Jocyl, Thank you for your message. We are happy to see that you have liked our blog post. Here on AuPair.com you can find a Host Family as an Au Pair, Nanny, Tutor, Senior Caregiver or Live-in Help. Those programs help you to prepare for the position of a social worker, especially if you want to live abroad. Have a look at your options here: https://www.aupair.com/en/p-au-pair-alternatives-and-differences.php Register as an Au Pair here: https://www.aupair.com/en/p-aupair-registration.php We hope this was helpful. Your AuPair.com team
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