Image: Volunteering and hands-on training are core components of a quality CSW course
Updated February 2024
Planning to become a community support worker (CSW)? You're on track to a rewarding career with many different job options.
Community services is a challenging, diverse, and quickly growing field. CSWs work in front-line roles, supporting vulnerable populations and helping people lead healthier more independent lives.
So how do you get started?
Your first step is find a quality community support worker course. There are quite a few colleges across Canada that offer this program. How do you know which one to choose?
While you should certainly take the time to do your own research, there are a few key factors that every good community support worker course should offer.
In this post, we outline all the features you should look for when researching CSW training options.
After reading, you will be much better prepared to find a great program to launch your career.
your CSW Course should include an internship
Any community support worker course you choose should definitely include an internship. A work placement is key because it gives you real experience out in the community.
It's also an opportunity to explore different areas of community work. Are you interested in working with women, youth, homeless populations, or people suffering from addiction?
A good college will try to place you with an organization that specializes in the area you're interested in.
This is an excellent way to explore the field and make some industry connections before you've even graduated.
In fact, some of our graduates end up getting hired straight out of their internship. No school can guarantee you'll be hired, but the internship will definitely open some doors.
Does the CSW course feature hands-on training?
In addition to an internship, your community support worker course should offer plenty of hands-on training.
- Case studies for analysis and assessment skills
- Community service projects and presentations
- Mock interviewing and counselling sessions
- Volunteering in the community
When you're comparing schools, ask admissions about hands-on projects and activities. Make sure the CSW course offers more than just classroom theory.
career services for CSW students
Many colleges claim to offer excellent career services. But what does that really mean?
When comparing CSW colleges, it's important to dig deeper and ask each school what level of job-search support they offer.
Examples of career services include:
- Assistance to write a professional resume and cover
- Mock job interviews to hone your self-presentation skills
- Referrals to industry partners who hire the school's CSW graduates
- Coaching on how to find CSW jobs online
- Lifetime career assistance
Flexible CSW training options
Is the option to study online important to you? Not all CSW colleges offer online versions of this program.
When you're comparing courses, take a look at how flexible the training is. At Herzing, we offer a completely online CSW course.
If you're working while studying and/or caring for a family, having an online study option can make all the difference. Just make sure the online CSW course doesn't sacrifice on curriculum, hands-on learning, or internship.
Helpful, knowledgeable admissions team
At some point, you'll need to contact each college you're considering and speak with an admissions representative. This interaction will tell you a lot about the school and whether it's the right fit for you.
Here are a few things to notice:
- Can the admissions person answer all your questions about the CSW course?
- Are they helpful and friendly?
- Do they ask about your career goals, interests, strengths, and weaknesses?
- Do they offer several ways to talk, such as by phone, videoconference, or in person (to suit your needs or preferences)?
- Do you feel pushed to enrol before you're ready?
- Do you get straightforward information about tuition fees, financial aid, and application requirements?
Admissions reps are the face of the school. If you have a bad experience at this stage, chances are you'll want to look elsewhere.
Your summary checklist
We've covered some of the core features of a good CSW course. But there are a few more things you can keep in mind while making your final decision.
Here's a summary checklist of all the important points to consider when you're researching programs and speaking with admissions.
- Hands-on training (ask for examples)
- Experienced instructors (do they have a strong background in social services?)
- In-depth career support services
- Flexible training options (if this matters to you)
- Knowledgeable, non-pushy admissions reps
- Positive reviews of the CSW course
- Positive reviews of the college
Still have questions?
If you still have questions about CSW training or careers, we welcome you to speak with a Herzing College admissions advisor. Even if you don't choose Herzing, we can provide helpful information and point you in the right direction.
Get started by exploring our CSW training. Click below to learn about the field and see a course list. Advisors are available for online chat if you need further information or assistance.