What Key Skills Do You Need to Become a Social Worker?

Social work is hard, but it’s a key career in communities across the country that helps to restore faith in humanity.

Without social care, millions of people across the US may not be able to live healthy, fulfilling lives. It’s safe to say that becoming a social worker requires more than just an appropriate education and a fitting attitude.

Social workers are essential in our society, as they help those of us who cannot help ourselves and work on thousands and thousands of projects every year. It’s certainly a challenging job, and not everyone is suited to a career in it.

Social workers work on very difficult cases for long periods and need certain skills to help them and their clients get by. But what are these skills? Before starting an online master’s in social work, it’s good to evaluate your empathetic skills and learned behaviors.

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Organization is key for any social worker. Your job will entail having to deal with multiple projects at once, most of which will have extensive paperwork. Between timetables, meetings, calls and general admin, you will need to have your own efficient filing system.

Accessing the right documents at a moment’s notice and knowing where and when you are needed is essential to being a successful social worker. It can take some time to get your own system down, and even long-established professionals struggle at times.

However, if things start getting misplaced or forgotten, your system – or lack of one – can have huge effects on the people you are trying to help. So, if you’re planning to pursue social work as a career, always take the time to organize yourself and ensure you have everything you need, when and where you need it.


As a social worker, you will be met with multiple challenging situations involving people from all walks of life who are facing various challenges themselves. It is important to remember that your job is to help those people, even if they are not ready to help themselves.

This means that you will need a great deal of patience. There will be no point in getting frustrated at those you are trying to help or even those around you. These systems can take a long time to work, and you have to follow along properly, however long it may take.

Some situations can take years to work through, but persevering is essential – and the payoff can make a world of difference to marginalized people in serious need. Social advocacy takes time to breed long-term results, which means the best social workers never truly rest in pursuit of what’s best for their clients.


Empathy is a must in social care, and it’s not something you can easily fake – and certainly not something you should fake in this line of work. Your job is to help people, which is impossible when you do not care.

Most of the people you help will need you because they cannot manage alone. They need someone to guide them into better situations. In order to do this successfully, social workers must be able to empathize with the people they are helping and their situation – no matter their individual perceptions.

In some cases, that can make the job even more difficult. It can be hard to remain truly objective when we deeply feel for someone and/or their situation. However, in the long run, empathy will serve the social worker well, inspiring motivation and perseverance.


Between the people that you are helping, the team around you and those with whom you have to converse about any given situation, you will need to be skilled at communication if you stand any chance of helping people through social care. Sadly, many projects are adversely affected by a lack of communication and errors.

Again, these issues can severely impact the people you are being paid to help. If you are keen on training in social work, remember to keep those involved in a case informed at all times. Plan calls and meetings to stay on top of everything, and take the time to ensure that everyone involved understands their duties and roles.

Clear communication can require a lot of patience and a healthy dose of diplomacy, which is why the best social workers are unflappable when it comes to aggressive or tense situations. It takes a lot of firm resolve, as this is an extremely emotional career choice.

Professional objectivity 

One of the hardest yet most vital aspects of being a social worker is remembering to stay objective. As you help people, you are bound to become increasingly invested in their cases, and empathizing with them means offering a certain amount of yourself into the case.

However, when it comes down to important decisions, staying professional and objective is essential. When things do get difficult, social workers can of course refer to superiors for help. Still, in every case, it is important to remember to stay as objective as possible to ensure that you follow the guidelines in place to protect and help everyone involved.


Social workers are some of the most important professionals working in the US today. If you are interested in getting into social care yourself, the above are some key skills you should sharpen up before taking on a course or degree.

Of course, there are some skills that you’ll only learn when you take on a degree in social work. Nevertheless, all social workers will tell you that skills such as empathy, patience and professional objectivity are just as important. In fact, possessing all of the above will put you in a good position for this style of work.

Social work is hard, but it’s a key career in communities across the country that helps to restore faith in humanity. Without social workers, many people may struggle to get back on their feet and gain access to resources they sorely need.