Updated December 2023
Are you looking for a career where you can get involved in your community, help people in need, and create a more fair and just social system?
Welcome to the world of social work. Social work is all about human rights, social justice, and making sure everyone has access to opportunities and support.
There are many ways to start a career in this field. If you don't want to spend years in university earning a degree, you can pursue social services training at the college level.
For example, you can become a community services worker (CSW). It takes no more than 12 months to complete a CSW diploma. Many programs include an internship, so you'll get real work experience at a community organization before you graduate.
But short training isn't the only thing to consider. It takes a special skillset to succeed in the social services field. Is it a good fit for you? How can you know for sure?
In this post, we'll guide you through some key questions to ask yourself.
Find out what to expect at work, what is involved in social services training, and whether this career makes sense for you.
Let's get started.
1. What does a Community Services Worker do?
Community services worker (CSW) is a very common entry-level career in the social services field. You only need a diploma to get started--no degree necessary.
CSWs assist people who are struggling with social and personal challenges, such as addiction, mental health issues, poverty, domestic abuse, and homelessness.
CSWs work in many different settings, including residential care facilities, hospitals, homeless shelters, women's shelters, detoxification centres, halfway houses, and other community organizations.
Typical responsibilities for community services workers include:
- Providing personal and vocational counselling
- Planning and leading support groups and activities
- Connecting clients with social welfare services and programs
- Helping clients find safe and affordable housing
- Connecting clients with healthcare services and specialists
- Assisting clients with daily needs and activities
- Helping clients set and achieve future goals
- Following clients through treatment programs
- Providing emotional support
- Providing crisis intervention
Becoming a CSW will give you the chance to directly assist people in need.
You can even specialize in a particular group, such as newcomers to Canada, addiction recovery, child/youth work, seniors, homeless populations, etc.
Ask yourself: Does the role of CSW appeal to you? Can you see yourself working closely with people who are going through very challenging situations?
2. Are you interested in human development & psychology?
If you decide to take social services training, you'll spend a lot of time studying human development, sociology, and psychology.
You'll be exploring topics like family dynamics, social groups, mental health disorders, addiction, discrimination, and social injustice. You will also be exploring your own cultural influences and how they shape your interactions with other people.
Ask yourself: Do these topics interest you? Are you curious about social groups, social norms, and human interaction? Are you open to analyzing your own life experiences?
If you answer yes, you're on the right track! This kind of critical thinking and self-reflection is a big part of social services training.
3. Are you passionate about helping others?
At its core, social service work is about helping to create a more fair society. It's about providing vulnerable people with access to education, a safe living environment, health care services, and employment opportunities.
Ask yourself: Are you passionate about helping people in need? Do you care about social justice and want to make real change in your community?
Social services training is an excellent first step to achieving these goals.
4. How would you rate your emotional intelligence (EQ)?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is our ability to understand and relate to other human beings. It includes traits like:
- Interpreting both verbal and non-verbal communication
- Being empathic and non-judgmental
- Communicating clearly and compassionately
- Working cooperatively with others
- Listening carefully
These are essential skills for social service workers like CSWs. Why? Because in order to truly help someone, you must first gain their trust.
You must build a connection based on respect, non-judgment, and empathy. This is why emotional intelligence is so important for this career.
Ask yourself: Can you relate easily to others? Do people come to you for advice because you're easy to talk to and don't pass judgment?
5. Are you organized and detail-oriented?
Social service workers do a lot of paperwork. There is definitely an administrative side to this job, which requires organization and attention to detail. Common examples include:
- Taking detailed notes during interview and counselling sessions
- Carefully documenting your clients' progress
- Researching your local community for appropriate social programs and services
- Managing case files and keeping documents up to date
A good community services worker program will help you develop these skills.
You'll learn how to write research reports, analyze case studies, and do the paperwork required in a real social services position.
Ask yourself: Do you follow through on projects? Can you be trusted to organize and safeguard important information?
6. How well do you handle stress & adversity?
Social services can be a really challenging field. Some people may resist your support, push you away, refuse to complete treatment programs, or slip back into harmful behaviours.
You may lose a client to addiction or feel frustrated by the limitations of our social welfare system. Without good stress management skills, it can become overwhelming.
In order to serve others, you must first nurture your own well-being. Start now by honestly evaluating your own stress-coping skills.
Ask yourself: How well do you handle setbacks? Can you stay calm under pressure? Are you flexible and adaptable?
summary of questions to ask yourself
So, we've covered the role of a typical social services worker. We have also covered the main skills and characteristics needed to succeed in this role.
Let's recap the questions you should ask yourself to know if social services training is right for you:
- Are you interested in the topics covered in social services training? (psychology, sociology, human behaviour, mental health and addictions, social justice, social welfare system, etc.)
- Can you see yourself working as a community services worker (CSW)?
- Are you genuinely passionate about helping others?
- Are you motivated to make your community a better place for all?
- Are you non-judgmental and easy to talk to?
- Are you detail-oriented and reliable?
- How well do you handle pressure, setbacks, and stressful situations?
Next steps: explore social services training
Herzing College offers CSW training online. This program includes an internship as well as certificates in first aid and CPR.
Reach out to an admissions advisor to learn more. An advisor can guide you through the program, answer all your questions, and confirm you're a good fit for the career.
Click below to get started. Browse a detailed description of courses and careers, and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!