Over the years, we've trained hundreds of social services workers. These people come from various backgrounds and walks of life—but they all have one important thing in common. They want to make a positive, lasting difference in their communities.
Community services workers (CSWs) are agents of social change. They recognize that some groups in society are exploited, marginalized, or simply abandoned to struggle on their own. CSWs believe everyone should have access to opportunity and support—and they dedicate themselves to delivering that assistance.
One of the best ways to get started in this career is by completing a Community Services Worker Diploma. This program will prepare you for front-line roles in a wide range of social service organizations, where you can provide help where it's needed most.
Wondering if this path is right for you? Take a look at 6 excellent reasons to choose a career in social services—and some helpful advice on taking your first step.
1. Make real change in your local community
People who work in social services are dedicated to social justice. They want to build communities where everyone has access to good health, safe housing, and opportunities for employment and financial security.
If you choose to become a community services worker, you'll be in a front-line role, helping people with personal and social problems. You'll be offering counselling, creating and delivering community programs, and connecting people in need with existing social services.
In a very direct way, you'll be making your community a more safe, fair, and healthy place to live. At its core, this role is about helping people who, far too often, fall through the cracks. Because when we neglect those in need, we fail as a society, and that failure comes at a high price for us all.
2. Help at-risk people get the support they deserve
So, exactly who will you be helping as a community services worker? Your mission will be to assist at-risk populations in your local community. Being "at-risk" means being exposed to harm or danger. Groups that fall into this category include:
- victims of domestic violence
- homeless people
- people with mental illness (who are not receiving proper help and support)
- people suffering from addiction
- people who are unemployed and living in poverty
- seniors who are isolated and need special support
CSWs play an important role in removing at-risk people from dangerous situations, and helping them map out a brighter future. They provide counselling, employment assistance, access to food and safe housing, and refer clients to vital health care services.
Community services workers are a lifeline to people in need. Without judgment or discrimination, they help others find hope, dignity, and empowerment. This work really does save lives.
3. Choose from a Wide range of social services career options
Since CSWs work with a range of at-risk populations, there are opportunities to specialize, and really hone in on a particular group you feel passionate about.
For example, you could focus your social services career on helping abused children and at-risk teens. Or, you could dedicate your career to helping women escape abusive relationships, and rebuild their lives.
Other areas of specialization include:
- working with socially isolated adults and seniors who have special needs
- working with ex-offenders who need help transitioning back into the community
- working to end homelessness
- employment counselling and job training programs
- addiction and mental health counselling
- working with refugees and new immigrants (helping newcomers settle into Canadian communities)
- working with at-risk aboriginal communities
- supporting struggling families and new mothers
There are so many ways to give back, and make a positive change in your neighborhood, as a CSW. Community Services Worker Training includes instruction in all of these areas, so by the time you graduate, you'll be ready to hit the ground running.
4. Steady demand for social services workers in Ontario
Ontario is constantly seeking ways to better serve and protect at-risk populations. The 2018/19 provincial budget has dedicated a total of $2.1 billion to health care—including more mental health and addiction services, and better programs for seniors.
The latest employment forecast is positive for CSWs in Ontario. The Government of Canada Job Bank predicts stable demand for this occupation across the province, awarding it 2/3 stars for growth over the coming few years.
5. Training is quick: Start your social services career in just 1 year
If you're looking for a rewarding career, but don't want to invest in a 4-year university degree, a college CSW diploma is an ideal alternative.
There are Community Services Worker programs that you can complete in just 12 months. Herzing's program, for example, is full-time and runs for 12 months—including an 8-week internship at a local community organization.
The program covers all the theory and practical skills students need to start their social service careers:
- your local social services system, available programs, gaps in the social safety net
- family dynamics
- mental health and addictions
- interviewing and counselling techniques (both individual and group counselling)
- social psychology, biology and behavior, motivation and learning
- human psychology and development, from infancy to adulthood
- becoming an effective mentor
- non-violent crisis intervention
- CPR and First Aid certificates
Herzing's program also includes help landing your first CSW job. Our career services team assists with resume/cover letter preparation, mock interviews, and connections with local employers. In 2018, 91% of available CSW grads from our Toronto campus were employed in a related field.
Can't make it to campus? We also offer an online version of this diploma program, through our very popular FlexEd learning system. Complete your coursework from anywhere, and get instructor support whenever you need it.
6. Option to earn your CSW diploma online
Don't have time to come to campus? Juggling child care, work, and other obligations? No problem. You can train for a social services career online.
Several colleges offer online programs, including Herzing. Our Flex-Ed option is extremely popular, and offers busy students the exact same courses, internship, and career services that on-campus students enjoy.
Earn your CSW diploma online, and get personalized attention from your instructor, and the chance to interact with classmates online, through an interactive learning platform.
If you're really passionate about starting this career, there are flexible ways to make it happen—even if you're pressed for time.
Want to learn more about becoming a Community Services Worker, or what's involved in earning your CSW diploma?
We strongly recommend talking with an admissions advisor. This is the best way to understand application requirements, course details, careers, and your online learning options.
Plus, an advisor can help you book a campus tour, and even sit-in on a CSW class at our Toronto campus—to make sure this path is right for you.
Ready to make a real difference in your community, and start a career you can be proud of? Chat live with an advisor now, or click below to explore the Community Services Worker program at Herzing College Toronto.